South Portland church faces uncertain future
SOUTH PORTLAND — A parish committee is recommending St. John the Evangelist Church be closed by July.
Monsignor Michael Henchal, pastor of the cluster of four Roman Catholic parishes in South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, said a decision has not been made. But the recommendation and future of the church at 611 Main St. will be discussed at a parish meeting on Sunday, Jan. 27.
The parish finance commission, according to a church newsletter, determined St. John's "financial outlook for the short term is doable (though at a deficit) but not stable for the long term."
It has recommended the church celebrate one weekend Mass for now, but anticipates June 30 will be the last day the church is open.
The recommendation is also based on no unforeseen circumstances – for example, failure of the boiler or sound system – forcing it to close at an earlier date, according to the bulletin.
Henchal estimated the church averages weekly attendance of 150 people, but was uncertain of the total number of parishioners. He said the meeting with parishioners on Sunday could lead to more ideas and a determination to keep the church open.
"There could be a half-dozen more steps," he said. "This is a very preliminary thing."
South Portland historian Kathryn DiPhilippo's research shows the church was built in 1940 to meet a population increase on the western side of the city. The parish dates to 1866 and services were initially held in the chapel at Calvary Cemetery.
The parish cluster also includes Holy Cross Church on Cottage Road, Holy Cross School on Broadway, St. Maximilian Kolbe Church off Black Point Road in Scarborough, and St. Bartholomew's Church on Two Lights Road in Cape Elizabeth.