- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) - Parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Muscatine gathered in the building a final time for mass and to recall the time they spent in the church before it is demolished.

Concerns about the strength of the 138-year-old church’s floor led to the decision to close the brick building and consolidate the parish with St. Mathias Catholic Church.

At the final mass at St. Mary’s on Saturday, parishioners listened to organ music and gazed around a church that had been largely stripped of its relics in preparation for the demolition.

“It’s like losing a member of your family,” longtime parishioner Tom Noll told the Muscatine Journal (http://bit.ly/T33Pot ).

His wife, Marlene Noll, added, “It’s just a day that if we could change it, we would.”

Marlene Noll noted that four of the couple’s five children were baptized at St. Mary’s and all had their first communion and confirmation there. Their eldest child also was married at St. Mary’s.

The Rev. Jason Crossen said it was hard to say goodbye to the church.

“No priest ever wants to close a church, so there’s that sadness,” Crossen said. “But at the same time I also think that saying goodbye in a good way is healthy.”

After services at the church, about 100 people walked about a mile through the afternoon heat, praying the rosary, until they reached St. Mathias.

Although it was a somber procession, Jean Harper, 77, said she felt wonderful. Harper was married at St. Mary’s and her six children were baptized there.

“You don’t honor the church,” she said. “You honor God.”

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Information from: Muscatine Journal, http://www.muscatinejournal.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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