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Archives Massena parishes to be known as St. Peter’s

Jan. 10, 2018

MASSENA — Sometime this year, what had been two separate parishes — Church of the Sacred Heart/St. St. Peter's Parish MassenaLawrence and St. Mary’s/St. Joseph’s — will take on a new parish name.

Two separate parishes - Church of the Sacred Heart/St. Lawrence and St. Mary’s/St. Joseph’s - will
become one, to be
called St. Peter’s

After consultation with the diocesan Council of Priests, Bishop Terry R. LaValley signed a decree in December to formalize the establishment of St. Peter’s Parish.

St. Peter’s is the name of the first Catholic church in the Massena area, dating back to the 1830s.

The “extinctive union” — when the two parishes will become extinct and consolidate under one new parish — won’t happen overnight, according to the Rev. Mark R. Reilly, pastor of the Greater Massena Catholic Community, which encompasses the Massena and Louisville churches. The process includes changing the title on legal documents, establishing a single bank account and consolidating the Pastoral and Finance councils for the two parishes.

Father Reilly said they sought recommendations for a new parish name last summer when they announced that the two parishes would be consolidated. He said one of the requirements when they submitted their request to the bishop was to suggest a name for the new entity.

Ballots were put in church pews and voting also took place through a web form on the parish website.
“We had quite a few responses. We had a lot of good name suggestions,” he said.

They also looked at the history of parishes in Massena and came across information about St. Peter’s Cemetery on Center Street, near the former Violi’s restaurant, as well as what was the nearby St. Peter’s Church. St. Peter’s pre-dates all of the area’s existing churches, Father Reilly said.

When the joint Parish Council met to discuss a new name and went through the list, he said St. Peter’s offered some pluses — it was concise, did not favor or exclude any of the existing church names and represented a return to the local church roots.

“It’s to the point and there’s a history there that neither favors or excludes anybody. That’s what we recommended to the bishop,” he said.

Now, with the bishop’s approval, Father Reilly said they can move forward with all of the requirements to officially change the parish name.

“In the course of 2018, it will officially become St. Peter’s,” he said.

But, while the parish name may be changing, the names of the churches themselves will remain, he said.

“The names of the physical church structures don’t change,” but fall under the umbrella of St. Peter’s Parish, Father Reilly said.
(Reprinted with permission from the Daily Courier Observer)

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