Editorial | Parishes may close but their faith lives on

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From a purely human standpoint, the closing of Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Mary brings a sense of sadness and perhaps grief, similar to the passing of a trusted, long-time friend.

Dating to its founding in 1874, the parish had been home as residents of St. Mary celebrated the rhythms of life — baptisms to funerals, with every significant sacramental life event in between. They received the sacraments, attended the parish school, got married, went to picnics and socials, played bingo, quilted and just plain enjoyed life.

Mainly, the faithful gathered for worship as a community of faith, with Masses too numerous to tally, since 1889 in the church on the bluff overlooking Kaskaskia Island and Illinois. Every Sunday and weekday, they celebrated Jesus' Resurrection, the centerpiece of their Catholic faith. Ours, too, and therein lies their paths in the future.

Whereas the parish itself has been relegated to history, its spiritual life continues. Former parishioners will move on to worship at neighboring parishes, celebrating Masses and sacraments just as they did in St. Mary and just as Catholics around the world have done for 2,000 years.

The Catholic Church is the Universal Church, one Body of Christ throughout the world. Simple as that.

And it's proven to be resilient, surviving persecution, reformation, wars and all manner of disasters, both man-made and natural. Through it all and over time, despite numerous efforts to quash it, the Church persists.

Since the Archdiocese of St. Louis was founded in 1826, 110 parishes have closed, half founded in the 19th century and half in the 20th century. Parishes have closed or merged, boundaries have been redrawn, and new parishes have formed. Again and again.

So, it is that the faith lives on. Perhaps worship happens in new or different places in the temporal sense, but from a spiritual standpoint, the faith continues, eternally.

That's the beauty of being Catholic. One God, forever and ever. 

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