I was among the many who gathered at Immaculate Conception on Oak Street on the Eastside of Youngstown this morning.  Today was the last Mass in that church building.

Bishop Murry presided at Mass today.  He reminded us all that, though the building would close, the church would continue on at a new location and with a new name:  Immaculate Conception-Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Sacred Heart building.

There were lots of tears on the faces of many at Mass, but lots of smiles as well.   Everyone was remembering their time at that church – special occasions like First Communion, weddings, and funerals – and the regular worship each week.

Many Youngstowners trace their roots to the eastside.  My grandmother – Mary Reardon McCormick – was baptized and went to school at Immaculate.

When I first entered the Ursulines I went to Immaculate to Mass regularly.  Fr. John Summers was pastor and Fathers Phil Conley and Dan Venglarik lived at the rectory.

But what I really learned there was how to teach.  Sister Mary Lee Nalley was on the faculty and while I was still a student at Youngstown State University, I went to Immaculate Conception school once or twice a week and learned skills of classroom management, planning lessons and working with school age students.  Some of those same students I met when I began to teach at Ursuline High School.

Sister Mary Lee, herself a daughter of the parish, has been ministering at for nearly 40 years.  She will continue to serve the people of the new parish.  As she said to Fr. Kevin Peters, the new pastor:  “I serve the people of God, not a building.”

The Ursuline Nuns have always been intimately involved with the people of the greater Youngstown area.  Our ministry is in collaboration with the needs of the local church and the needs of the people.

All of the Ursulines pledge their support to the reconfiguration of the parishes throughout the diocese.  We know that the church at Immaculate Conception-Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish will remain strong.

The Ursulines who were at today’s Mass were Sister Mary Lee and Sister Kathleen McCarragher who work at the parish, Sister Nancy Dawson and Sister Charlotte Italiano, both daughters of the parish, and Sister Darla Vogelsang who taught at Immaculate Conception School, served as its principal and worked as a pastoral associate.  Several Ursuline Associates were also in attendance:  Sheila Triplett, Monique Smith and Carol Mentges.

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