Updated: October 20, 2019 07:32 AM
Created: October 20, 2019 07:20 AM
ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) — As people walk out of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta, they are doing so for one of the last times. The building will no longer be a place to worship after this weekend.
"It was certainly a little bittersweet," Zach Cedruly said.
He was baptized at the church, which is over 100 years old, and had been returning for worship services ever since.
"It was just good to look around and kind of reminisce a little bit about the good times," he said.
The church is operated by the St. Marianne Cope Parish, which was formed about nine years ago as a conglomerate with the Guardian Angels Church and the Saint Joseph’s Church of Rush.
Moving forward, worship services will be held at those two locations. Pastoral Administrator Sister Sheila Stevenson said most services will be held at Guardian Angels.
"It’s heartbreaking to lose a place that you've always worshipped, where you have always worshipped," Stevenson said.
But it's a move that had to be made and had been in the works for years, according to Stevenson. Earlier this year, she said the parish sold the former Good Shepard building to the Rush-Henrietta School District, and the parish had been essentially renting the place ever since.
She said the move is necessary because the parish can no longer carry three campuses. She chalked it up to a combination of different factors, with the most significant being a decline in worshippers.
Stevenson said it’s a part of an ongoing trend for area churches to come together to form one parish.
When asked why fewer people are showing up, she said some people have lost touch with their faith but did not connect it to anything specific.
She said the closing was planned before the recent enactment of the New York State Child Victims Act, which has seen several alleged survivors of sex abuse come out against their alleged abusers, some of whom were priests.
"We hope that there would be a resurgence and that people would begin to take seriously their faith," Stevenson said.
She said people within the parish had already been attending at least one of the other churches for worship and this should not hurt the parish community.
It’s a belief shared by Meg Palmer, a parishioner who said this move will not hurt her beliefs and will strengthen the community.
"[I] met a lot of new people, made a lot of new friendships, [and it] gives us a chance to worship together," Palmer said. "The church is the people, not the building."
As for Cedruly, he’s looking forward to the future.
"Little bit of an end of an era, but good things to come, for sure."
Stevenson said the long-term plan is to make Guardian Angels the parish's only place to worship. Though she said Saint Joseph’s is not currently for sale.
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