Final Mass as Church Closes its Doors

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It was a sad farewell for parishioners of a church in part of Luzerne County.

Holy Name/Saint Mary's church in Swoyersville has been around for more than 100 years, but Sunday afternoon, a final mass was held before the doors closed for good.

Hundreds of parishioners gathered to celebrate the last Sunday mass at Holy Name/Saint Mary's Catholic church.

"To celebrate the significance of this building, what it has meant to your spiritual lives and we pause now to give thanks for the many years we have worshiped here," said pastor Joseph Pisaneschi.

Saint Mary of Czestochowa church was built in 1911 and years ago, merged with Holy Name of Jesus parish. Now, worshippers will consolidate again.

As those gathered at the church said good-bye, there were tears on what many call a bittersweet day.

"I was married here, my children were married here, christened here. I was here all my life, so it`s kind of tough, the last day. It`s going to be hard to get used to going to another church," said Lucille Peeler of Swoyersville.

"My parents were married in this church, matter of fact it was 74 years this past Thursday, would have been, and we were baptized, first holy communion, confirmation, and all, so it will be sad," added Elaine Hritzak of West Wyoming.

Ed Byczek said he, and many others, grew up in the church.

"I used to go to dances here when I was a kid, actually one Halloween dance when I was young, and all the bazaars we used to have here. People used to come from out of state on buses to attend them. They were great," said Ed Byczek of Forty Fort.

After the final prayer, parishioners had a chance to kiss the altar and Helen Kopetchny, one of the oldest parishioners, ceremoniously locked the doors.

"It was the greatest honor, but deep down inside, it was a hard feeling," said Helen Kopetchny of Swoyersville.

Worshipers made their way to Holy Trinity church on Hughes Street in Swoyersville. The two parishes will combine to become Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

There is no word what will become of the Holy Name/St. Mary's church building, but the church members said they will keep their memories for years to come.