Blessed Sacrament parishioners bid farewell to church

| January 15, 2015 | 0 Comments
Father Donald DeGrood, pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, passes a chalice to Amanda Showalter during the final Mass Jan. 11 at the Blessed Sacrament LaCrosse Avenue site. Showalter and other parishioners received sacred items from the church and took them to the Stillwater Avenue site, where they were placed in front of the altar. The Mass ended with Father DeGrood closing the doors and offering a final prayer.  Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Father Donald DeGrood, pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, passes a chalice to Amanda Showalter during the final Mass Jan. 11 at the Blessed Sacrament LaCrosse Avenue site. Showalter and other parishioners received sacred items from the church and took them to the Stillwater Avenue site, where they were placed in front of the altar. The Mass ended with Father DeGrood closing the doors and offering a final prayer. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

For five generations, the Fitzgerald family has called the Blessed Sacrament on LaCrosse Avenue in St. Paul its spiritual home. Many returned one last time to say goodbye to the parish building, which closed after a final Mass Jan. 11.

“It’s such a Fitzgerald place,” said Monica Fitzgerald, who taught first grade at the school from 1986 to 1989. “Many of our lives started here and revolved around the church and the sacraments. It’s pretty powerful to look around and know that we won’t be coming here anymore.”

The church building, school and rectory are in the process of being sold to a charter school. The parish will continue to worship nearby at the former church of St. Thomas the Apostle, which merged with Blessed Sacrament in 2011 under the latter parish’s name.

After the Mass, the parish’s pastor, Father Donald DeGrood, walked around the interior of the church building and chose several items, including a chalice, to take to the parish’s sole location.

The Mass drew more than 200 current and former parishioners, including one from Salt Lake City, Utah.

As the bells struck on the hour, Father DeGrood said, “I declare this building of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament closed.” It was more than an hour before the last person left the building, as if they were trying to grab one last moment in their beloved worship space.

Cita Regan, a parishioner for five years, called the last Mass “sad but hopeful. We are looking to the future and continuing our faith journey. The closing of the parish is our Good Friday. With our new parish, we will have our Easter.”

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