Burrillville churches to merge

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BURRILLVILLE – Two long-standing religious institutions in Burrillville, including one that holds the only recognized place of pilgrimage in Rhode Island, will merge into a single parish in July.

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus in Nasonville is joining with Our Lady of Good Help in Mapleville, effective July 1. The churches have shared a religious education program and website as Burrillville Catholic since 2015, under shared pastor Rev Michael McMahon.

McMahon clarified with NRI NOW this week that St. Theresa Church & Shrine will remain open for Sunday & weekday Mass, as will OLGH.

“Neither church building is closing, but the parish is being merged under the title Our Lady of Good Help Parish & St. Theresa Shrine,” said McMahon.

Our Lady of Good Help on Victory Highway first opened its doors 1907, as a home for the region’s French Canadian Catholics, who were previously served by the predominantly Irish St. Patrick’s church. At the time about 155 families were included in the new parish which comprised the villages of Mapleville, Oakland, Whipple and Gazzaville, according to parish history.

St. Theresa’s church, home of the Shrine of the Little Flower – the first of its kind in the United States dedicated to St. Theresa – will remain open.

The Nasonville shrine is the only place of pilgrimage in Rhode Island that has received official recognition by the Roman Catholic Church authorities. St. Theresa became parish in 1923 to serve villages of Nasonville, Mohegan, Mount Pleasant, and Tarklin.

According to a history compiled by Fr. Jay Finelli, in the early 1940s,  Fr. Lambert organized several pilgrimages to the shrine bringing as many as 7,000 people on a single occasion.

In recent years, many have visited the outdoor route of The Stations of the Cross, climbed the Holy Stairs, stopped in St. Theresa’s grotto and sat on the dozen park benches on the grounds.

Bishop Thomas Tobin approved the merger, announced Sunday to parishioners.

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