Last Mass For St. Francis Chapel

        Today marks the beginning of what could be the end of an era for Franciscan Friars in Providence.  After 55 years of service, a final Catholic Mass was held at the St. Francis Chapel in downtown Providence this afternoon. A lack of money and a decrease in Friars are the two biggest reasons for the Franciscans closing their doors in Providence.

        People filled the St. Francis Chapel today to bow their heads one last time, at least at this location.  Reverend Steven Patti says there are only five Friars left in Providence, and on top of the shrinking numbers, they can't afford the rent.

        Patti says, “people talking about even 20 years ago we had 23 friars here we just don't have the same number anymore.”

         A changing church is why there are fewer friars. Phyllis Cicchetti started working for the Franciscan Friars eleven years ago as a cook. She's been the receptionist for three years. For her, the Chapel's closing is twice as painful.

          Cicchetti says, “the way of the world is very different today than in other years I think that's it and I'm losing my faith community, I'm losing my job.”

           The Franciscans have been in Providence since 1956, opening their hearts to people in need through prayer and community service. A legacy that many worshippers strive to continue when they're gone.

           Victoria Almeida has been attending the Chapel for 35 years. She says the message has helped her in her career as a lawyer as well as in her personal life.

            Almeida says, “to realize this is not the end of their ministry, but the beginning of our ministry.”

            Four of the five Friars serving the Chapel now will continue at St. Mary's Church in Providence until June when the Diocese will take over. The other Friar is expected to stay in Providence.