NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (WTNH) – The Archdiocese of Hartford has announced the leadership team that will take over St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and the newly consolidated municipal parish.
It will look pretty much the same on the outside, but starting in January 2022, St. Mary’s will have new faces on the inside.
The Dominican friars and their white robes will leave after 135 years. The Archdiocese of Hartford is restructuring, combining all of New Haven’s Catholic churches into what is called a municipal model.
“St. Mary’s, because of its central location, will be the mother church, if you will, of this municipal parish church,” said Father Ryan Lerner, the new pastor of St. Mary’s.
Lerner is also the Catholic chaplain of Yale. Father Anthony Federico is the new Parish Vicar. Both are from Connecticut.
“I was born less than a mile from here and I know New Haven is so rich in diversity,” said Federico. “Some of the richest and most powerful people in the world alongside some of the poorest people in our community and all walks of life in between.”
However, many of these people are unhappy with the changes. The ad received over 140 negative comments on Facebook with words like “heartbreaking” and “parody.” The new manager says, give him time.
“Look, we’re all in the same boat,” Lerner said. “It’s new to me, it’s new to all of us. Whenever a major change occurs in the church, it reminds us that we are one as the body of Christ.
Of course, St. Mary’s is not just any church. In 1882 Father Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in the basement of the church.
McGivney has since been beatified by the Catholic Church and is well on his way to becoming a saint. Any priest who takes over this parish certainly has a lot of history behind him.
“To come back to St. Mary’s, where I spent so many hours with Father McGivney at his grave when I had just learned the priesthood,” said Federico. “It’s been a big part of my own journey as a priest, and now to come home I couldn’t be more excited.”
“On the one hand, I’m super excited,” Lerner said. “At the same time, of course, it’s something that’s intimidating.”
The pilgrims will hopefully come to honor McGivney, but the new priests know they must serve the local faithful as well.