Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County -- "My heart is broke over here but there's nothing you can do." 77-year-old Bob Belles of Wilkes-Barre reflected Thursday on Holy Savior Church which has been his house of worship all of his life. "I was baptized here. My mother was baptized here." After this weekend, Mr. Belles and others who attend mass at the church on Hillard Street will have to worship elsewhere as it closes for good. "I'm really disappointed," said 85-year-old Edward Flaherty. The Wilkes-Barre man has been a parishioner at Holy Saviour since 1969. Holy Saviour consolidated in 2011 with two other churches to form St. Andre Bessette Parish. Mr. Flaherty claims not enough was done to preserve his neighborhood church that had a large Irish membership. "It needed repairs. Look at it, you know. They didn't have to close this down. They could fix this church up." Mr. Flaherty was a former president of Holy Saviour's Holy Name Society and joined others in trying to keep the church a vibrant, faith sharing experience. "I coached the boys and girls basketball teams for years."
For many, Holy Saviour Church is more than just sentimental. Behind me is a Pennsylvania Historical marker that's dedicated to the church's founding pastor who knew President Teddy Roosevelt and was instrumental in bringing to an end the early 20th century Anthracite Strike. Now, only two masses are left at the landmark site that helped bring Holy Saviour members closer to God and each other. "Good things aren't forever. We've got to remember that, you know. So whatever happens now it happens," said Mr. Belles.
Holy Saviour Church will hold its final masses this Saturday afternoon at 4:00 and Sunday morning at 10:30.