PROVIDENCE — St. Mary’s Church will be marking its 150th anniversary on July 11.
The church, which is administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), a religious society which offers the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, will be holding a solemn Mass at 6:30 p.m., followed by refreshments and live Irish music.
St. Mary’s was dedicated July 11, 1869.
In 2018, the FSSP assumed leadership of the parish, at the invitation of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.
“From the beginning the current community has felt a great connection with the past history of St. Mary’s,” said Father John Berg, the pastor. “The church itself speaks constantly to us of its history and the sacrifices made. One can look at the magnificent windows to see the years they were given in and the families or parish groups which sacrificed to give them. The same is true of later renovations to preserve St. Mary’s such as the last one done in 1930 and more recently by at the end of the last century. It was clear to us from the start that we inherited something which others had sacrificed a great deal for and now it was up to us to care for and give life to this historical edifice.”
Father Berg said the new community had also heard from older parishioners about the role that St. Mary’s played in the neighborhood. The church once had a school where teaching sisters formed local Catholics in the faith. After the third shift at the factories in Olneyville, the men of the parish would come by the church to hand dig out the area that is now the basement.
“All of this reminded us of how we needed to also roll up our sleeves and maintain this venerable church. From the start we have said that we want to live up to the faith and perseverance which was shown by those who came before us,” Father Berg said.
He said the parish has “tried to refound” older traditional organizations, like the Marian Sodality for girls and the Holy Name Society for men.
He said the FSSP’s commitment to the Traditional Latin Mass serves as another vital link to the church’s past.
“It is fitting that we will be celebrating the same form of the Mass. The exact same Gregorian chants will be sung as were sung by the St. Mary’s choir in 1869. This certainly connects us with our past,” Father Berg said.