St. John's Catholic Church shuts doors after 127 years - KMSP-TV

St. John's Catholic Church shuts doors after 127 years

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The archdiocese says there just aren't enough priests to serve at area churches, so parishoners at St. John's in St. Paul are saying farewell to the community they love.

Parishoners filled the pews for one final Sunday service, reflecting on past memories.

"She came running in and said JFK had been assassinated and we all prayed," one churchgoer said.

After 127 years, St. John's Catholic Church is closing its doors.

Father George Welzbacher, 85, led St. John's for the past seven years and says they're merging with St. Pascal Baylon right down the street. While some catholic churches closed recently because of declining attendance and fallout from the priest sex abuse scandal, there aren't enough priests in the pipeline to meet demand. Otherwise, Father Welzbacher, who is set to retire, says the 500-member parish probably would have stayed open.

"They will still maintain the level of piety that they have shown here as a group as members of new parishes," he said.

Over the years, St. John's ran a catholic school right next door and was known in the community as a welcoming place for single moms. However, the church may be most remembered, for its initiative to keep the symbols and statues of tradition.

"A lot of churches decided we have to do away with just about everything you have in here like the alters communion rails the stations of the cross, but we had some very strong pastors who fought that," Welzbacher said.

Parishoners have always appreciated those efforts. As they say their final Sunday prayers, some are snapping photos of the stained glass and walking over spots that still creak.

"So you dip your hand in here and you do the sign of the cross," Julianna Dillon said as she showed her little sister one last time how to use the holy water.

Greg Cosimini insists he'll even miss the confessional

"It's not easy, but it's still an important part of catholic life, and you feel great when you come out.

The grand old organ played one final time, bringing 127 years of memories and worship to a close.

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