LaFargeville’s St. John holds second to their final mass

Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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LAFARGEVILLE, New York (WWNY) - “In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit. Amen.”

The pews were filled at St. John the Evangelist in LaFargeville on Sunday, for the church’s second to final mass. For some, this is where they’ve spent their Sundays for more than 70 years.

Barbara Robinson has attended the church since 1947 and Marcia O’Neill, has attended the church since late 1940′s as well.

“About the age of seven, which would’ve been about ’48, ’49,” said O’Neill.

And throughout the years, miles of memories have been made.

“I was married here 62 years ago today,” said O’Neill.

“We brought our nine children here to mass every Sunday. All nine of them made their first communion here, seven of them were married here,” said Robinson.

Which is why the closing is painful for so many. Terry LaValley, the bishop of the Ogdensburg Diocese, says the church is closing because of diminishing population and fewer priests.

“Economically and realistically, it was impossible to sustain a parish community such as this,” said LaValley.

And next Sunday will mark the end of an era in more ways than one. Arthur LaBaff is retiring as pastor. He was ordained 55 years ago, and has been the pastor at St. John for the past 12 years.

“Yes it is bittersweet. But I’m continuing as a sacramental priest,” said Pastor Arthur LaBaff.

Pastor LaBaff says he’ll still be celebrating masses and funerals, but he will not have any administrative duties.

The church dates back to the 1840′s. It’s been a staple of the community ever since. And the parishioners will miss one thing above all.

“Just going to miss all of these people,” said Robinson.

Both Robinson and O’Neill say they haven’t decided where they will go to church after St. John closes. But this group still has one more Sunday to worship together.

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