A final Sunday Mass is offered at St. Ann’s

By Dc. Tom Cuskey

The pews at St. Ann’s Church in the Westhill area of Syracuse were almost full with a half-hour still to go before the noon Mass on Sunday, Jan. 29. Walking through the front doors, one could hear the sounds of many animated conversations filling the space. 

This was the final Mass at St. Ann’s, but it was still a celebration.

“Yes, this is definitely a celebration,” Father Kevin Maloney offered. “This parish has been just a rock for this community here in the Onondaga Hill area, in Westhill, on the west side, for so long. And we just can’t help but be thankful.”

St. Ann Church opened on Onondaga Boulevard in 1955, one of several Catholic churches in the immediate area. As numerous communities and neighborhoods have evolved, parishes have had to link and merge in the face of smaller congregations and a decreasing number of available priests to serve. St. Ann merged with St. Charles parish in Westvale in 2012. Fr. Maloney has served as administrator for the two parishes since 2017 in addition to being pastor of the merged community of St. Patrick-St. Brigid in Syracuse’s storied Tipperary Hill neighborhood. 

“We’ve been having daily Mass here,” Father said of St. Ann, “but we have not had weekend Mass since before COVID.” Father added that while the pandemic changed everything, the impact on St. Ann was profound. “We just didn’t have any help on the weekends and we couldn’t open up another Mass here. So unfortunately, we are in the difficult position of having to close the doors. But, you know, we’ve closed doors on the building, but not on our parish.”

The history and memories of St Ann’s will no doubt be kept alive by the people who attended Mass or went to elementary school there. Conversations before and after Mass took place among parish families, former students and teachers. 

Patricia Hunt was a reader at the final Mass and has personal history that marked the lifetime of the parish itself. 

“I was five years old,” she told the Catholic Sun. “My parents were one of the original first families that helped found the parish. In fact, we were going to Mass when it was still over at the House of Providence before the church was ever built.” Hunt was part of St. Ann School’s first graduating class and, like many parishioners, is saddened by the closing but also knows that the community will persevere. “The Mass was very satisfying, very good, I loved what the Bishop said,” she added. “We’re still a family.”

In his homily, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia offered thanks for the gift of the parish and reminded those who were feeling sadness to look ahead on a journey that still continues.

“As we pray today, we are reminded that it is the Lord who goes with us, that we never walk this way alone.” Bishop continued, “Our God is a God who is on this journey with us.” He invited those in attendance to remain in the “procession of faith, a procession that moves beyond this building, a procession of faith that calls us to see the Lord.”

Father Maloney assured all that the parish community leadership and staff will remain as part of the procession. “We’ll continue to be here for everybody.” 

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