Waterbury hit hard by church changes

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — New church changes announced by the Hartford Archdiocese are hitting Waterbury parishioners hard. Six churches — including the one Rev. Diego Jimenez leads — Sacred Heart — are closing and merging into one new congregation at St. Anne’s.

“It’s sad,” Rev. Jimenez said. “But I’m also excited for the mergers….We need the merges. We need to protect the faith to continue to increase the community — to increase the number of people who follow Jesus Christ.”

The archdiocese says it made the decision, in part, because of declining attendance at mass services and other sacramental attendance (i.e. baptisms, marriages) at many of the churches. Rev. Jimenez is sad to see his church go, but there’s a big reason why he’s excited for what lies ahead — he was chosen to lead Waterbury churches through this merger and into the future.

He will oversee the new Waterbury parish, which will be called: “All Saints/Todos los Santos,” he said.

That’s a nod to the city’s growing and expanding Hispanic population.

The churches that are closing and merging are the Parishes of: Saint Anne, Our Lady of Lourdes, Sacred Heart, Saint Lucy, Saint Margaret and Saint Stanislaus Kostka. These are churches that have been around for a very long time and have become part of the fabric of the Waterbury community. For instance, Our Lady of Lourdes was erected in 1899. Sacred Heart was erected in 1885. Rev. Jimenez admits it’s hard to say goodbye, but he also has a message to Waterbury church-goers who may find it hard to change and to emotionally let go of the past.

“I love this community, I love the people in Waterbury. I know the decision is not easy,” he said. “The only message that I ask from you….is open the mind and heart to follow Jesus Christ. We are the body of Christ.”

“The faith is not a building. The faith is not the statues, the faith is Jesus Christ.”

He admits his new responsibility to lead is a daunting one. But — just like he’s asking of Waterbury church-goers — Rev. Jimenez says he will embrace change to keep the faith strong.

“My goal is — my expectation is — to take the faith, increase the faith and proclaim the Good News,” he said.

The changes are scheduled to take effect at the end of next month.

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