WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) -- It's the end of an era at St. Charles Borromeo, Northern Rhode Island's oldest Roman Catholic Church.

It was founded in 1846 by ancestors of Eleanor Keegan Pierannunzi.

"This was, in effect, the place where Catholicism began in Northern Rhode Island," she said.

But the Diocese of Providence has decided to close the church based on costly upkeep and declining attendance.

Some traveled from far and wide to attend Sunday's final mass, saying goodbye to an important part of their families' lives.

"I wanted to be here for this," Joan Pritchard, who came from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. "This is meaningful."

"It's part of history," said Claire Dant, who came from Laurel, Maryland. "And to see it be over is hard. We don't know what will happen to the building, the building is historic. But the meaning of the building is extremely important to those of us of faith. It's part of our life."

And even though this is the last scheduled mass here, some parishioners still have faith that the church can be saved.

The Committee to Save St. Charles Church is petitioning Bishop Tobin to reverse the decision.

"There are many, many churches in this city and in this area who are going to need to be closed," Keegan Pierannunzi said. "And so our argument has been, why wouldn't those congregants come to this church, with so much to offer?"

If the bishop rejects them, they say they're willing to bring the issue to the Vatican.

"I have to remain hopeful," said Lisette St. Germain of Newport. "That is one of the three Christian values. Hope is the biggest one really. Hope, faith, and love. And right now I'm going on all of them."



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