New Bedford’s Ungodly Mess May Finally Be Addressed
In July, we posted an article highlighting the disgusting mess that exists where, for years, St. Therese's Catholic School provided an education for parish children. St. Therese's Church, in the same building, was where parish families attended mass on Sunday, held weddings and funerals, and celebrated Easter and Christmas.
Former parishioners lie at rest in the Pine Grove Cemetery, which abuts the church property.
St. Therese's was the pride of the neighborhood near where Ashley Boulevard and Acushnet Avenue slowly curve inward until they meet several blocks north, where Pa Raffa's has served pizza and spaghetti for years.
Declining enrollment and rising costs led the Fall River Catholic Archdiocese to close St. Therese's Catholic School and Church decades ago as parishes merged.
In 2009, during the administration of Mayor Scott Lang, the New Bedford Cemetery Board purchased the property from the Archdiocese for $2.2 million. Holly Huntoon, Mayor Jon Mitchell's Interim Public Information Officer, said the buildings and the property "were bought using Cemetery Board revenues (which are generated by burial fees."
Huntoon said the purchase included "the St. Therese's building, as well as the rectory, and a tract of land stretching all the way to Ashley Boulevard and south to the border with Pine Grove Cemetery that existed at the time."
"The intention was to use it as an extension of the City cemetery which abuts the property," Huntoon said.
In July, Huntoon said, "The building is not structurally sound and is likely to be demolished."
So here is an update.
"The (Cemetery) Board met in August and had a discussion," Huntoon said. "Based on that discussion, DPI (Department of Public Infrastructure) is looking into pricing to tear it down due to its disrepair and to make more space for the cemetery."
Huntoon offered no time frame for this to happen.
In the meantime, the former St. Therese's Church continues to be more dangerous as broken glass and fallen chunks of concrete litter the ground around the building. Since I visited last in July, more windows are missing and the building is accessible to animals and intruders.
See additional photos of how St. Therese's has further deteriorated since we last visited in July: