In preparation for saying goodbye to Rochester’s St. Andrew Church, parishioners are planning a celebration of the sacred life of the faith community at 2 p.m. Sept. 4.
The event, at St. Andrew Church, 923 Portland Ave., will include past parishioners and pastors.
The church building is in the process of being sold, and it is unclear when the final Mass will take place. But community members wanted to go ahead and have a celebration, said Deacon David Palma, pastoral administrator of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, which includes St. Andrew Church.
"The congregation would like to stay as long as they can until the closing," he said.
To prepare for the end of worship at St. Andrew, crews have been working through the summer to renovate Rochester’s Church of the Annunciation, 1754 Norton St., which will be one of the parish’s three worship sites. The others are Our Lady of the Americas at 864 E. Main St., and St. Michael at 869 N. Clinton Ave.
At Annunciation, they are working to remove a dropped ceiling and heat ducts to expose the church’s original high-peaked ceiling, add a wheelchair ramp, install new lighting fixtures and do some basic painting in the church.
In the future, the parish hopes to do work on Annunciation’s floor and complete a decorative paint job that would be fitting for a worship space, Deacon Palma said. Statues and sacred objects also will be installed in the space.
"It’s a work in progress," he said.
Although Deacon Palma said the parish is committed to maintaining its many ministries, they too are in transition as some of the parish buildings are for sale.
"We’re still present (in the city)," he said. "We’re still going to serve the people. We just haven’t figured out all the details as to how and where."
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish was formed in December 2010 from the territories once served by the parishes of Light of Christ (St. Andrew and Annunciation churches), Our Lady of the Americas (the former Corpus Christi, Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel churches) and Our Lady of the Angels (Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Michael churches). The Mt. Carmel and Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier worship sites closed in 2008, while worshippers celebrated the final weekend Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in January.
Holy Redeemer and St. Francis Xavier churches were sold some time ago, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Andrew also are up for sale. Money from the sale of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Andrew will go toward paying off parish debt, Deacon Palma said, adding that further details of the parish’s finances will be outlined in a financial statement to be completed in November.
Deacon Palma, who became pastoral administrator of St. Frances Cabrini in June, said he has been amazed by how many activities the parish has presented during that short time, ranging from large community celebrations to ministries to the poor. Last week, for instance, the parish had its Faith, Food and Fun fair for neighbors around St. Andrew Church, the Festival del Barrio at St. Michael and the ongoing operation of Matthew’s Closet, a clothing ministry at Our Lady of the Americas. The parish also enjoys the support of a range of volunteers from outside the city.
"This is a tremendously dynamic community," Deacon Palma said. "I’ve never been involved with a parish that has had so many major events during the summer months. The community is a quite amazing, vibrant place."
He noted that the parish also is working on growth and on planning new activities, including its first-ever parish picnic, which will be at 1 p.m. Sept. 18 at Ontario Beach Park.