WATERVILLE, Maine — The 137-year-old Catholic church at 52 Elm St. will be given a proper sendoff before being torn down to make way for senior housing.
St. Francis de Sales Church, established in 1874, will host several events beginning on Feb. 1, to mark its closure.
The church was put up for sale four years ago, but no offers were made to purchase it, said Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland Communications Director Sue Bernard. The Diocese of Portland is working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to build housing for seniors in the area.
The church will be torn down to build St. Francis Apartments, a three-story building with 40 one-bedroom units.
Nearby Seton Village in Waterville, a diocesan senior housing complex, has as many as 90 people on its waiting list, according to Bernard.
Public lectures will be held at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, at the church. Rev. Monsignor Charles M. Murphy, a priest of the Diocese of Portland, will give a lecture titled “The Way of Holiness according to Saint Francis de Sales.” Murphy is also a former rector of the North American College at the Vatican and author of several books, including “Belonging to God.”
Mass will be held at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 2, to honor women and men from religious orders, hermits, hermitesses and consecrated virgins. Rev. Joseph E. Daniels will lead the Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life.
A final Mass will be offered by Bishop Richard J. Malone at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. A reception will follow at Notre Dame Church Hall in Waterville.
Bernard said the closing of St. Francis de Sales Church, though sad, was necessary.
“The main thing is that there are a number of churches in that area and they’re able to take care of the population in the other churches,” said Bernard.
“We’ve had a number of consolidations and we want to make sure we spend the resources we have wisely,” added Bernard. “The collections that come in from the people, we want to do right by the people with that.”
Bernard said she hopes to have a large crowd at the events.