SCOTLAND, Conn. (WTNH) — The first mass at St. Margaret’s Church was celebrated on April 22, 1945. A cornerstone shows the new church was later built in 1959. Ever since then they have held Sunday mass there. But that ends this coming Sunday.
“Real sad that they’re going to have to go elsewhere,” says Brad Blodgett who lives across the street.
St. Margaret Chapel is actually a mission of St. Joseph parish in Willimantic. In the 1970s 200 people attended weekly mass at the Scotland chapel but for the past six years it’s dropped to between 40 and 50.
Pastor Laurence LaPointe says “Sadly their diminishing numbers coupled with the diminishing number of clergy have left no alternative. We all pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and in the attendance of the faithful at weekly Mass.”
“My dad grew up going to that church. He was an altar boy,” says Kelsey Savino runs the Ezer Mart Scotland General Store next to the church which will soon sit empty.
“That really stinks,” says Savino. “Times are changing a lot of small towns aren’t like what they used to and it’s really sad cause I see a lot of this happening to a lot of churches.”
In New London St. Mary Star of the Sea closed its school a few years ago. The church stayed open but now Father Mark O’Donnell overseas that church, along with St. Joseph church also in New London, and Our Lady of Grace on Fishers Island.
“Not always the easiest thing to do,” Father Mark O’Donnell told News8 in August.
The Diocese of Norwich says the supply of priests has not kept up with the demand on the part of parishioners. But it is encouraged by an increase in enrollment at seminaries and right now it has 11 seminarians in various stages of study for the priesthood.
“They’re great people, great neighbors so I mean Scotland’s a nice town they’re a nice part of it,” says Blodgett who will miss seeing parishioners at the St. Margaret’s. “Things like this are always sad.”
The pastor says the plan is to continue to use this church for funerals and weddings as long as they can afford to keep in open.