By Jessica Able and Marnie McAllister, Record Staff Writers
St. Barnabas and St. Pius X churches celebrated their pasts and looked toward the future at closing liturgies last weekend.
Next Sunday, Nov. 29, the two communities will gather again, as one, to celebrate their first liturgies as the new St. John Paul II Church. The Archdiocese of Louisville’s newest parish will host a special Mass Dec. 20 to celebrate its opening. The new parish’s pastor is Father William P. Burks, who currently leads St. Pius and St. Barnabas.
Last weekend’s liturgies were poignant, prayerful and looked at times like family reunions, as parishioners hugged and reminisced.
St. Pius X Church
1956 to 2015
St. Pius X Church, 3521 Goldsmith Lane, formed in 1956 to serve the burgeoning Catholic population in the Hikes Point/Buechel area.
During its closing liturgy Nov. 21, Father William P. Burks reminded parishioners of St. Pius’ legacy — a parish that’s always ready “to give, give, give” — and gave thanks for the scores of people who built the parish, served on committees, educated the children and guided the parish.
“Over these last 59 years, good old St. Pius X is looking down on us and is proud of everything we have done in his name,” said Father Burks. “We have served the Lord well and we will serve him well in our new community. The spirit will guide us onward.”
Acknowledging the sadness parishioners are feeling at the closing of their church, Father Burks told them, “Our Lord said, even when you have to say goodbye, when something has to break open and die like the grain of wheat, it turns into something stronger than it ever was up to that point.
That is what we celebrate tonight. We are people of hope.”
St. Pius is like a home for Patsy Meyer, who has belonged to the parish since it was established when she was a young child. The closing is sad and disappointing for parishioners, she said. But she also reminds herself, “It’s the people, not the building” that make the parish.
Carol McGoff, whose husband Deacon Jim McGoff serves at St. Pius, said she believes, “It’s going to be fine.”
“We’re here for the same reason — to participate in the Eucharist together,” she said. “Therefore, it’s going to be perfect.”
St. Barnabas Church
1953 to 2015
St. Barnabas Church, 3042 Hikes, was established in 1953 to serve Catholics migrating east from downtown.
As the church’s liturgical year came to a close on the feast of Christ the King Nov. 22, parishioners — past and present — gathered to celebrate the parish’s final liturgy.
Father Burks recounted the origins of the parish and the role it has played in the Hikes Point neighborhood.
“What it has shown over and over again is that we want to be engaged in society. We want to be a part of the world. We want to help transform those things around us to be more and more in the image and likeness of Christ,” he said.
Father Burks described the parishioners of St. Barnabas as “stubbornly resilient” and reminded them that Christ is physically with us.
“We are to be a people that create this new parish built upon the foundation of love and service that we have been here at St. Barnabas since 1953,” he said.
Father Burks expressed gratitude to previous pastors and thanked all those who “worked so diligently within our school” and on councils, committees and the countless volunteers who made St. Barnabas a “faith-filled community of God’s grace.”
Long-time parishioners Joe Kleine-Kracht and Jane Geiger said the closing Mass was bittersweet.
“I’m torn. We’re sad that St. Barnabas is closing and we’re also looking forward to the new merger,” Kleine-Kracht said.
Geiger added, “I feel that it’s an ending but it should be a beginning. I hope John Paul II is a vibrant parish.”
St. John Paul II Church
With the closing of two parishes and the creation of a new one, the Archdiocese of Louisville will have 110 parishes in central Kentucky. According to the decree issued by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in May, “St. Barnabas Church will serve as the parish church with St. Pius X Church remaining open for the use of the faithful at the discretion of the pastor.”
Discussions for the merger began in 2005. The two parishes have been working together in various ways for a number of years, most visibly as sponsors of John Paul II Academy, which is in its 10th year. The regional school, located in the former St. Pius X School, is also sponsored by St. Bartholomew Church.
The school has an enrollment of 211 students in pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade. It will remain at its present location on the Goldsmith Lane campus.
Karen Sullivan, who retired from the school earlier this year after 40 years of service — first at St. Pius X School and then at John Paul II — said,
“I’m looking ahead and thinking, ‘What’s our next step?’ ”
Sullivan noted that she attended St. Barnabas as a child and now is a member of St. Pius. She and the art and environment committees at both parishes are already coordinating their plans for Advent as St. John Paul II, she added.
Masses for St. John Paul II will be:
Saturdays — 4:30 p.m. at the Goldsmith Lane campus.
Sundays — 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Hikes Lane campus.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (no fifth Saturday) — 8 a.m. at Hikes Lane campus.
Wednesdays — 8:15 a.m. school Mass at Goldsmith Lane campus.
The parish office will be located at 3042 Hikes Lane, Louisville, Ky., 40220-2017. The phone number is 459-4251.