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Parishes reuniting

Congregants polled on possible new name

Sacred Heart celebrated a 100th anniversary Mass last November. File photo/Shawn Kelley. (click for larger version)
September 22, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Ever heard of Ave Maria Parish? Or Notre Dame et Sacre Coeur? Or St. Therese of Lisieux?

One of those names might become part of the lexicon of Southbridge in the near future.

On Sunday, parishioners of Notre Dame and Sacred Heart churches voted on them and about 33 other proposals for a new name as the latest move in a gradual merger of the two French-origin Catholic parishes.

"Everyone voted for their two favorites," said Notre Dame member Arnold Simpson. "They'll send the top three choices to the diocese."

Raymond Delisle, spokesman for the Worcester Diocese, said the two parishes evaluated themselves and "independently recommended a merger." That recommendation, with the names, goes to Bishop Robert McManus for a final decision, then the new parish needs to reconstitute its governing committees and look at what its needs are, Delisle said.

In practice, however, the two churches "have been twinned" for some time, since they share a church council and priest — Rev. Leo-Paul LeBlanc, who is technically pastor at Notre Dame and administrator at Sacred Heart. LeBlanc could not be reached for comment.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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