Taylor parishes merging to form Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church

Time to say ‘good-bye’

Two Taylor churches prepare to close, merge as one: Our Lady of the Angels

By Donna Abramczyk
The News-Herald

November 18, 2007

This weekend will mark the end of an era for two Catholic churches that have served parishioners in Taylor for more than 50 years each.

After the faithful process from St. Paschal Baylon at its final Mass at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (November 24), the doors will be closed forever.

The same fate awaits St. Cyril of Jerusalem after its final Mass, set for 10 Sunday morning (November 25).

The doors to both churches will be sealed and tied with purple ribbons – purple being the color of mourning, said the Rev. Bernard Fraser, who has been pastor at both parishes since their clustering in July.

There will be no Masses held in either church next week.

“At the end of the Masses, all the remaining Eucharist will be consumed by the priest and Eucharistic ministers,” Fraser said.

“The altars will be stripped of their cloths and candles and then be incensed (smoked with incense).”

Parishioners will then go up to the alter to venerate it, usually by kissing it, the pastor said, then process out, carrying such items as holy water and oils, sacramental books, baptismal records.

With the closing, however, comes a new beginning.

On December 1, just in time for the start of the season of Advent and a new liturgical year, a new church community, Our Lady of the Angels, will be born at the former St. Cyril’s.

The 4 p.m. Mass, a festive occasion to be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Francis Reiss, will begin with the mingling of the holy water and oils of the two former communities, symbolizing the joining of the two.

During the two-hour ritual, the bishop will consecrate the building, a symbol of dedicating the church to God – something that had not been done before, Fraser said.

“It’s a very beautiful ceremony, and most churches in the area have not had this done,” Fraser said.

Reiss also will read a decree declaring the new parish and install Fraser as its pastor.

“There are people who are heartbroken,” he said, “and others who are excited about the new parish.”

Coincidentally, a number of renovations have been taking place over the past few months at St. Cyril and are expected to be completed in time for the opening Mass.

They include the installation of a new stone altar and ambo, new carpeting, floor tile and pews, along with an expansion and updating of offices and the parish center kitchen.

St. Paschal parishioners will have a chance to express their grief for the closing of their church at a Remembrance Vigil service that will take place Thursday (November 22) at the church, 22210 Champaign, beginning at 8:45 a.m.

Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will follow from 9:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. A Vigil of Grieving then will begin and include prayers of the faithful, liturgy of the Word, prayers of intercession, benediction and a final blessing.

A reception will follow in the church hall.

Founded in 1956, St. Paschal’s first Mass was held at Harmonia Park Hall and later at Blair Moody School. The Rev. Francis Kozlowski was the founding pastor.

The first solemn Mass in the new church was celebrated on October 27, 1957. Today, the parish numbers about 400 families.

A school was opened in 1964 and closed in 1972, but it reopened 10 years later. In 2000, Taylor Catholic Schools was formed from the parishes at St. Alfred, St. Cyril, St. Constance and St. Paschal.

St. Alfred pulled out a year later and, finally, the school closed last year.

St. Cyril marked its 50th jubilee year in 2003, the year Fraser became pastor. The parish was founded at the time of great growth and expansion in the area served by St. Frances Cabrini and St. Alfred churches.

Parishioners met first in the former Sudman School in Allen park and, as their numbers grew, in the Allen Park High School auditorium while the new church was being built at 6442 Pelham.

The church, which was built to be an auditorium, was dedicated September 26, 1954, with 1,600 in attendance. Today, membership is about 1,200 families. St. Cyril’s school was opened in 1956.

Fraser said he hopes all will attend the opening Mass for Our Lady of the Angels, calling those who do “founding parishioners” of the new parish, named for the Blessed Mother.

A reception and time of celebration will follow the Mass.

For more information, call the St. Cyril parish office, (313) 381-3000.