WILKES-BARRE — An historic church in the East End will close its doors at the end of June.
The congregation of St. Andre Bessette Parish recently learned that Holy Saviour Church on Hillard Street, one of the parish’s two worship sites, will have a closing Mass at 10:30 a.m. on June 29.
The church holds an important place in local Anthracite mining history. Holy Saviour’s first pastor, Father John Curran, helped local miners organize unions.
Curran soon became good friends with President Theodore Roosevelt, and the two worked to help miners negotiate with the mine owners to gain better working conditions and a litle better pay. A famous photograph of Curran, Roosevelt and Bishop Michael Hoban outside the church is a common inclusion in historical books about coal mining in the Northeast.
St. Andre Bessett Parish was formed in 2011 with the consolidation of the former parishes of Sacred Heart of Jesus (which included St. John the Evangelist), St. Stanislaus Kostka and Holy Saviour.
Sacred Heart’s doors closed in June 2011 after a Sacred Heart parish group’s appeals of the closing to the Vatican proved unsuccessful.
The St. Stanislaus and Holy Saviour churches both had remained worship sites for the new parish after the consolidation.
William Genello, executive director of communications for the Diocese of Scranton, said that when the parishes were consolidated, it was determined that Holy Saviour would serve as an additional worship site for a period of two years, when it would then be re-evaluated.
Genello said parish leadership, including the Parish Finance Council and Parish Pastoral Council, completed the additional worship site evaluation and determined that Holy Saviour be closed. He said parish leadership will evaluate the property and make a recommendation to the diocese regarding its disposition.
Genello said a closing Mass is in the planning stages, and no other details are available at this time.