Tag Archives: church

Attn: Mt. Carmel boosters! … TONIGHT! – Thurs! – Historic Commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. – Worcester City Hall

The steeple of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, located on Mulberry Street in Worcester’s glorious Italian American East Side neighborhood! pic:R.T.

In the Levi-Lincoln Room (3rd floor)

See you there!

By Mauro DePasquale, president

Our Lady of Mount Carmel church Preservation Society

Please consider this:

1. The Diocese does not want a Historic District. It holds a permit to knock the church down.

2. The Mount Carmel Preservation Society (MPS) wants the Church to be re-opened with masses and to save the parish on Mulberry Street.

3. The Diocese is merging the two parishes but has not committed to seating the parish sacred gathering space on Mulberry street in our historic church. According to the Bishop, the merger is non-negotiable and was a part of the unilateral offering made by the Bishop on December 30. (BTW An offer with no guarantees but to explore possibilities.) While a permit for May demotion continues to be on cue.

4. MPS provided a comprise by offering six points for the Diocese to consider and respond to before we withdraw our petition.

5. The Diocese ignored our request as of this writing and many in our group have interpreted an implied negative message which is to be published in the Jan 22nd bulletin. This is after we held our part of the bargain of delaying our petition, held quiet with the press, upon request of the Bishop, until Jan 10. We had no real choice but to move forward with the petition as vetted by the Worcester City Council, due to time constraints for processing it.

6. Whereas the MPS mission is, in part, to preserve the church – and we have discussed the consequences a number of times with the Board and general membership – and whereas the Bishop has not indicated in anyway that he is willing to even discuss our 6 points, we can choose to either walk away or move forward with whatever hope the Historic District has to offer toward preservation of our sacred space and community anchors.

Our members spoke clearly at our latest meeting on how they wish to proceed. Therefore, we are moving forward with our petition, with hopes the Diocese will continue discussions to truly work toward preserving and re-opening our Church.

7. Our mission is to preserve our Church and, for the time being, the Historic District offers at least a chance to preserve it. With consensus from the membership and our Board, we have little choice but to move forward with open eyes and hearts – open to continue to appeal for the Bishop to have a change of heart in favor of saving and re-opening our historic church.

We believe the Diocese does not want the church to sit there on Mulberry Street as an eyesore. No one does. It deserves better – to be re-opened, with masses celebrated there weekly.

Hopefully, this process will encourage a move toward preservation and real, open, bilateral discussion …

Moving ahead…


Gordy parked in fashion … Worcester city councilors Gaffney and Lukes and a few dollars more

Worcester City Councilor Mike Gaffney and Turtle Boy blogger Aidan Kearney engage in the same kind of race baiting as the divisive Donald Trump. pic:R.T.

By Gordon Davis

When thinking about Worcester City Councilor/Reverend Sarai Rivera’s Austin Street church building controversy and the Worcester City Council, Malcolm X, Southern Black churches and the White Citizens Councils come to mind.

The Worcester City Council has given its support for the partial removal of federal block grant money from the fund to demolish six condemned properties in Worcester. One of the six condemned properties is a building owned by Rivera’s church. The controversy arises because Reverend Rivera is also a Worcester City Councilor.

Rivera is co-minister of the Christian Community Church which is open to all races and serves a mostly Hispanic congregation. Rivera has been an outspoken critic of the Worcester Police in the past. Rivera has also shown support for the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement. To be fair, she has also expressed support for the Worcester Police, especially in its efforts to remove trail bikes from the streets.

Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has defended his decision to include the property owned by Rivera’s church in the federal block grant for demolition of condemned properties. The property met the same criteria as the other properties on the manager’s list.

The appropriateness of the money going to the church was raised by Turtle Boy blogger Aidan Kearney, who is known for his racism. Michael (Mike) Gaffney, a white Worcester city councilor who has been characterized as a racist, brought the issue before the Worcester City Council.

It is not the first time Gaffney has attacked Reverend Rivera. He has attacked another woman of color when he sought to close the Mosaic Complex.

Malcom X said black coffee loses its essence if too much milk is added. For a long time some people in  government and elsewhere said they were “revolutionaries” – or at least progressives. These people, I suppose, were well meaning, but they misled the struggle for racial and economic justice.

The southern Black churches during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s supported their ministers independently of white folks, the white community. It was known that taking the “man’s” money brought ambiguity to whomever the ministers were ministering.

Closer to home, here in Worcester, in 2016: A predominantly Black church’s minister was on the board of directors of the Mosaic Complex. The minister abruptly quit Mosaic’s board when Gaffney and Turtle Boy plunged it into controversy. It is known that this minister also serves on at least one City of Worcester Committee – with some funding involved for his projects.  A reasonable person could conclude that instead of ministering to his flock, there is ambiguity in this minister’s responsibilities.

“Divide and Conquer” by racists like Kearney and Gaffney also existed in the old Civil Rights movement. It seems to be extant in the new Civil Rights Movement. We have learned from the old Civil Rights movement that the strongest organizations have been multi-racial organizations. Unfortunately, many progressives still have difficulty grasping this; even the right wingers have their “tokens.”

Wikepedia gives the following definition: “The Citizens’ Councils (also referred to as White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954. After 1956, it was known as the Citizens’ Councils of America.”

Although the Worcester City Council is not anything like the so called Citizen Councils, our city council comes to mind on this issue. The Worcester City Council, to some extent, is a representation of the old Worcester. The old Worcester was mostly White and seemingly comfortable for many White people. It was not so comfortable for many Black and Latino people back then.

This nostalgia by some Worcesterites for Worcester’s exclusionary (based on a person’s color or ethnicity) past has allowed Worcester city councillors like Michael Gaffney, Gary Rosen and Konnie Lukes to remain in office.  Councilor Lukes has recently sought a report of arrest records of recent immigrants to Worcester. This is a form of terrorism, as it has caused much anxiety and emotional distress for many law-abiding residents of our city. Lukes could have instead sought a list of hate crimes and harassment of the newcomers to the city in an effort to mitigate the racist Trump effect. She didn’t.

Councilor Riverai’s church’s board of directors should say it did not ask for, nor does it, at this time, want any federal block grant money for the demolition of its condemned property.

The church should remain separate from government – especially when in the struggle for justice.

I suppose each generation will have to learn anew the lessons from the old Civil Rights movement. People with one foot in each camp will eventually mislead us and the man’s few dollars will be the downfall of some and the heartbreak of others.

After the Thanksgiving feast, a few thoughts on Worcester’s turkeys

The future.     pic:R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

The family Thanksgiving Day dinner I attended with two friends was divine! Near the New Hampshire border in a farm house we gathered, seated ’round a long, dark wood table, the one my friend’s grandad had built for his farmhouse years ago. He set his big table under the sunniest window. … There were so many veggie dishes and desserts at this Thanksgiving feast! Many cooked from scratch. The wealth and comfort of my host, hostess and their kids, brothers and cousins made me think of – and talk to them about – my beloved Worcester ‘hood: its kids, our inability to get the public library book mobile to visit our neighborhood … so many struggles.

A few days later, a few pounds heavier, I am thinking about the people in my city who are destroying my city, my neighborhoods. Sure, the family in New Hampshire with whom I spent my holiday will do nothing for my people – there really are two Americas!! – but here in Worcester there are public officials who go beyond my dinner hosts’ indifference, detachment and cluelessness. These Woo leaders actively engage in destroying the city they were elected to serve, raise up …

For example:

The in-appropriateness of CDBG funds going to the church co-owned and run by D 4 Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera, who is also a pastor there, was trumpeted by At Large Worcester City Councilor Mike Gaffney in the most toxic terms on his most toxic YouTube show and on the city council floor where Gaffney sees himself as a modern day Douglas (ha!). His stupidity was aided and abetted by Aidan Kearney on his (formerly) pornographic, racist, classist and sexist Turtle Boy sports blog. These two Man-Boys are arguably the most racist public figures we have in Worcester today. They are leading this city down such a dangerous path!

Together, under the guise of “crusaders for justice” – an excuse for them to whip up racial hatred in Worcester in the same way Donald Trump has incited racial violence in Anerica – Gaffney and Kearney have destroyed several key progressive Black leaders/groups in Worcester. Groups and people who work to make Worcester’s inner city BETTER. Safer. Healthier. Smarter. Even happier. Gaffney and Kearney will have none of it! Since Day 1. Together. Working as Woo’s evil tag team. They have destroyed: Black (now former) Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone, the Black Lives Matter protesters at Kelley Square  and the Mosaic Complex, a tiny Black social welfare agency run by Brenda Jenkins. They have destroyed Brenda, too, a Black woman, a true community activist, known for her fearlessness when it came to speaking out against racial inequality in Worcester and her years of work with our inner-city Black men/youth around mental and physical health issues.

Poof! Gone!

Thanks to the fiery lies and hatred fanned by Gaffney and Turtle Boy Aidan. In the Worcester blogosphere and in Worcester City Hall every Tuesday night. Then oozing into our community life …

Instead of trying to foster thoughtful discussions, open dialogues about important issues – many racial because of the city’s evolving demographics – these two man-boys fan the flames of hatred. They confused Worcesterites,  lied to people. Played to folks’ prejudices. Racist Kearney posted unflattering photos of Brenda Jenkins on his Turtle Boy blog – the community roared!!! – then there was his photo of Boone’s head pasted on top of a grave stone – the community roared again!!!!

City Councilor Gaffney has called City Councilor Rivera a soldier in THE “MCGOVERN CRIME FAMILY.” Is this any way to lead a Gateway City in the 21st century? What kind of city councilor talks the way Gaffney does – especially about one of the country’s most progressive  congressmen, Jim McGovern? A man who has spent his entire political life fighting for the hungry, the poor, the disenfranchised?… Many in our city.. . Gaffney’s fact finding missions on behalf of the community are sick and twisted. He uses them as an excuse to publicly mock, denigrate and destroy leading people of color in Worcester. In this way racist Gaffney keeps people of color down – in city government, in city politics, in city life, in Worcesterites’ heads.

Lately, City Councilor Konnie Luke’s has joined Gaffney and blindly jumped into the racist fray – calling for lists, names and addresses of Worcester’s refugees and immigrants. She’s stupidly supported many of Turtle Boy and Gaffney’s hate-inspired crusades. I believe Lukes hasn’t thought things out – she is not a racist but she is getting there. She is paranoid and can be sucked into Gaffney’s – or any fear-monger’s – tsunami.

The Rivera church-CDBG issue WAS a valid issue – city officials shouldn’t look like they’re getting city sweet heart deals. But if we take the longview, sweetheart deals have been going on in Worcester city government for decades. DECADES!!!! From hiring, to firing, to job contracts, to neighborhood beautification – the only difference being that, up until recently, the “winners” (or should we say “sinners”?) were white, male and Irish Catholic.  So, naturally, everyone looked the other way.

It’s a new world, kids! – and many in Worcester are unwilling to accept the fact. Gaffney and Kearney keep the blinders on.

It’s called Burning the Future.

District 4, Endicott Street: St. Mary’s Church parking area garbage-clogged, as usual

By Rosalie Tirella

Should this little Polish church on Ward Street, Our Lady of Czetchowa, run by the pastor who refuses to let the city install video cameras on church property to catch illegal dumpers, DUMPERS WHO DUMP BEDROOM SETS AND OFFICE FURNITURE AND MOUNTAINS OF GARBAGE, be re-christened:




Yesterday, while running errands, I saw this:



The church parking lot walkway was littered with paper. To the right, the box spring mattress had been removed but the other crap remained.

As a kid growing up in Green Island, on Lafayette Street, my family belonged to this parish and my sisters attended St. Mary’s elementary school and jr/sr high school. I trudged to weekly catechism class at St. Mary’s, taking this path through a clean parking lot on whose edge sat a beautiful, open shrine to the Virgin Mary where you could light a candle and kneel and pray (it’s got bars now so people can’t steal the statues and candles) and to fastidious nuns who taught me my Catholic do’s and don’t. The neighborhood was poor and tough then (filled with blue collar bars and a few flop houses), but we kids and my mom, walking to St. Mary’s church or its parish school – and we walked everywhere cuz we didn’t have a car – found the walk to St. M’s … pleasant.

Especially on Sundays! We were going to church! To Jesus and to all his saints! To our church with the organ player from Poland whom I loved so much! He was short, not at all good looking, but did everything with such flair. He wore his long coat draped over his shoulders like a cape and walked past us parishioners dramatically, so his coat billowed in the breeze – just like a maestro! Once in church with my family, sitting in our church pew, I’d love to sneak a peek to the back of the church, the balcony where he played. You weren’t supposed to turn around in church – you were supposed to sit perfectly still in the pew, facing forward, looking straight ahead to the altar where the priest lead mass. But I loved to take furtive glances at the maestro who played the church organ with such flair! drama! passion! His little torso bent over the keyboard, reaching to the left, then to the right, his hands flying across the keyboard, his face sometimes looking up, to heaven, totally blissed out, into his music … his gig for God! While playing, he still wore his coat on his shoulders – like a cape! – like the little maestro he was! Our little church on Ward Street swelled with his music! I felt the whole world could hear his organ playing and the congregation accompanying him with our voices old and young, male and female. Singing on Sunday! A blast!

My mom and my two sisters and I always dressed up for Sunday mass, this special event. In springtime, my mom wore her pretty powder pink gloves – the ones that went to her wrist – to church. Sometimes my sisters and I wore our communion dresses, even after a few years had passed since we had made our First Holy Communion at St. Mary’s! (We also wore the dresses for class picture day! They were so pretty!) Here’s mine, hanging on the wall of one of my spare bedrooms today: a love song to my late mom and the Green Island of my childhood:


WE NEVER SAW GARBAGE HEAPED ON ENDICOTT STREET OR IN THE CHURCH WALKWAY on the way to mass. NEVER DID OUR WALKS TO THE CHURCH or St. M’s school feel like strolls through a landfill. Never were we made to feel bad or sad about our little journey, like it must feel now for anyone who walks up Endicott Street.

Maybe everyone here has grown used to the ugliness – and many add to it on hourly basis.


Have Jesus – will travel!



By Rosalie Tirella

This fairly large statue (now home in my kitchen) belonged to my Polish Bapy and was handed down to me when she died years ago. Its history is especially heart-warming on this snowy day: When my Bapy and my grandfather lived in Green Island, on Bigelow Street, in the 1930s, there used to be a travelling icon salesman. Worcester’s old ethnic neighborhoods, filled with religious immigrants who missed their “Old Country” and how their lives there revolved around God and their church, had these Jesus, Mary and Joseph peddlers who went door to door selling all kinds of icons. You’d order your statue from these guys, usually cast in plaster of Paris, then pay 5 cents down on it each week to the travelling icon salesman when he stopped by your house to collect your pennies and to try to sell more icons to you or your neighbors! After you paid up your 50 cents, $1, $2, etc, the statues of Saint Joseph, Saint Anthony, Saint Theresa were yours.

It was the heart of the Great Depression, and Polish immigrants like my grandparents didn’t have a lot of dough.  But my Bapy fell in love with this Jesus and Mary statue, complete with holy water bowl and wooden (now replaced) cross on top. And my grandfather, who was deeply in love with my pretty granny for the 50+ years (!) they were married and who worked in the textile mills in Dudley, wanted to get her this fairly big statue – almost like what you’d find in their church! – as a special gift. (They were married on Valentine’s Day! So they could be very romantic with each other!)

My Bapy never kept her holy water, blessed by the Bishop, in the holy water bowl of this icon, which now sits by my back door and says “goodbye” to me, “blesses” me through my grandmother’s love, EVERY DAY as I head out my kitchen to run InCity Times. My dumpling-shaped, feisty, little granny (she was only 4′ 10″ tall!) kept her holy water in a special plastic holy water bottle, also blessed by the Bishop, literally by her side, tucked under one of the pillows, of the dumpy, lumpy easy chair she used to sit on – at the head of the kitchen table. My grandfather planted it there for her so she could be in the middle of all the familial action, and when he died and she moved in with my mom and us kids, my mom planted that same dumpy chair at the head of OUR kitchen table so she could lord it all over us!

Bapy kept one of her many rosaries in the holy water bowl of the statue. I don’t know where that rosary is at the moment. But today I have my late mom’s religious medals in the bowl, along with a wooden cross. At the foot of the statue, to the right, you see the oval, metal Jesus plaque my mother used to have nailed into the kitchen door of our Lafayette Street apartment – a blessing for all who entered or left our flat. Jesus, keep us all safe as we go to work, school and church and make our way through our Green Island!, the plaque seemed to say to all.


To the left, at the bottom of the statue, is a little World War II photo of my late Uncle Stan on his battle ship. He was in the US Navy and can be seen here, with his ship’s mascot, a little lab/terrier dog, the kind of feisty boy you’d need in a fierce battle! I put the photo there a year ago to remember my uncle.


In my old apartment, I used to keep this huge icon in my bedroom, on a bureau, and light candles all around it at night. The Church of Rose, Perpetual Bleeding Heart. Very soothing … and romantic … .

But these days I like it in my kitchen where I can enjoy it while doing the most mundane stuff: drinking my coffee or tea, taking Jett out to pee or shit – just running my day in the simplest, best way I know how. It makes me feel good … about my beloved Bapy, my quiet, good natured Polish granddad who only spoke a handful of English words til the day he died, my late sweet sweet mom, my Green Island upbringing, Catholicism, being a second-generation American, and my writing life today.

(Below: ICT Editor Rosalie as a little kid with her beloved Bapy in their Green Island kitchen.)



Green Island’s St. John’s Church opens its brand new food pantry, soup kitchen and food distribution center!

By Jeffrey Li

St. John’s Church, one of the oldest churches in Worcester,  has just opened its new addition, the Saint Francis Xavier Center, a food pantry, soup kitchen and food distribution center. The renovated, free-standing building is named after the devoted missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus.

Located on 20 Temple St., right next door to the church proper, this center was originally a vegetable and fruit store of Clem’s Italian Sausage. The church bought it one and half years ago and has just finished its total renovation. The newly renovated Saint Francis Xavier Center looks beautiful and spacious. The large glass windows and doors were shining under the bright sun of May and so was Father John Madden’s bright smile. Father Madden is the pastor of St John’s and the catalyst behind the church’s mission to feed the hungry – support poor people and working people in a tough economy.

Father Madden said the opening of new Saint Francis Xavier Center will provide a larger and more comfortable place for the church’s current food pantry and free meal service, where people in need can get free meals in the morning five days a week and can also take the free food, mostly canned and packaged foods, to home with them to prepare for themselves.

According to Father Madden, the church has served free meals every weekday morning in its kitchen at the lower level of the church ever since July 12, 2004, with the help of its family members, food donation from businesses like Wegmans Food Markets, and volunteers from other churches. Recently, some volunteers also come from Assumption College. At the very beginning, few people came for the food. However, as the word spread  and the economy took a great downturn, more and more people walked in for the service, and it soon became obvious that the kitchen was just not big enough for the crowd.

When Clem’s Italian Sausage put the building on sale, the church immediately jumped on the opportunity to buy it. The church families went all out to raise funds to buy the property, and they finally succeeded in getting enough funds to cover the total cost – about $1.5 million, including the renovation. The grateful Father Madden thanked lots of people for their help and donation. He also mentioned the highest donor, Frank Carroll, president of the Small Business Service Bureau Inc. and a native of the Vernon Hill section of Worcester, for his donation and his tremendous help as a fund raiser.

The church wasted no time to start renovation after it bought the property. People just couldn’t wait to move to the new building. Now when the work is pretty much completed, Father Madden is still busy talking and arranging things with the contractors. People were so excited! After all, they have waited too long for a decent place like this for them to serve more and more people with due dignity and respect. The staff has tried their best to keep up with serving more than 100 people on daily, but they just couldn’t keep themselves from bumping into each other. They would set up two tables full of sweets and breads and try to arrange as many dining tables and chairs as possible, usually helped by Mr. O’Connor of the Wegmans, and Ryan and his men from Assumption College. Mr. O’Connor also brings in the donated food from the Wegmans four days a week. As there are no open windows in the kitchen, they have big ventilation fans set at the narrow doorways ready to help keep air flowing and keep the temperature down. To accommodate the limited kitchen utilities, the church’s chef Bob Kwiatkowski and his assistants have to get up very early and work long hours to prepare the soup and other foods for the service starting at 8:00 am. Christine, a volunteer from another church, comes every Wednesday morning to chop lots of celery, carrots, potatoes and meat for Bob. She loves her job. “It makes you feel good because you are helping people that need you,” said Christine.

People here believe whenever they feed the hungry or give the thirsty something to drink, they are in essence also giving food or drink to Jesus Christ and this is why when asked for the motivation, Father Madden’s answered without hesitation: “The Gospel says feed the hungry.”

With its history going back to 1834, St. John’s Church is said to be the oldest established Catholic religious institution in the city of Worcester. However, don’t be fooled by its age. The church currently has about 1,000 family members and is full of life and activities. The church has made great contributions to  society and is looking forward to continuing its  great work. For a long time to come!