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Closed churches given a 1-day reprieve

Associated Press

SUDBURY, Mass. – Almost a year after the Boston Archdiocese closed or consolidated 80 parishes, priests were sent out to celebrate Easter Mass in one-day-only services for three of the shuttered congregations.

“The fact that we have a priest here today is a sign of hope for the community that decisions will be changed,” said Joe Ramrath, a deacon and 25-year member of St. Anselm in this Boston suburb.

Parishioners have been conducting a round-the-clock vigil inside St. Anselm while they appeal Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s decision to close the parish, part of the belt-tightening move brought on by the archdiocese’s financial troubles following clergy sex abuse lawsuit settlements.

Some members of St. Anselm were puzzled by O’Malley’s decision to offer Easter Mass in the church.

A spokeswoman for O’Malley, Kelly Lynch, would not comment.

The priest sent to St. Anselm was the Rev. John Sassani, the archdiocese’s director of spiritual development.

More than 400 people filled the church’s pews, roughly twice the usual crowd before St. Anselm was closed.

The archbishop also allowed Easter Masses at St. Albert in Weymouth and at a school for parishioners of Mary Star of the Sea church in Quincy.

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