Hundreds of worshipers filled a Quincy church yesterday for an overflow Mass, its first since the Archdiocese of Boston decided to close the church nine months ago.
Erin Driscoll, 24, said the Mass at the Star of the Sea was like a ''big family reunion."
''It was amazing to see so many people come back," Driscoll said after the Mass. ''You don't realize what you're missing until it's taken away from you."
The archdiocese closed the church, located in the city's Squantum section, and locked its doors in October, a day after its final Mass. Earlier this month, however, the archdiocese announced that the church would be allowed to reopen as a chapel affiliated with Sacred Heart in Quincy.
The decision has been billed as one of the final changes in Archbishop Sean O'Malley's church reconfiguration plan.
Sean Glennon, cochairman of the Friends of the Star of the Sea, said O'Malley did not agree to meet with the parishioners until after they announced plans to hire a married priest to celebrate an Easter Mass for them at a Protestant church.
''It took us to go to that extreme to get his attention," Glennon said. ''Luckily, it paid off."
Another church slated to close, Infant Jesus-St. Lawrence in Brookline, also has reopened as a chapel. The church, which is affiliated with St. Mary in Brookline, is allowed to hold a weekly Mass and celebrate weddings, baptisms, and funerals.
Glennon said Star of the Sea so far has permission only to hold a weekly Mass.
''We're missing other vital components of our proposal" to reopen, he added.
The archdiocese has closed 62 of its 357 parishes since the cost-cutting reconfiguration process started last year.
Unlike other churches targeted, Star of the Sea's parishioners did not hold a 24-hour vigil to protest its closing.
As far back as 1999, Star of the Sea's parishioners embraced a plan to switch from a full-fledged parish to a chapel affiliated with Sacred Heart.
''It seems like a lot of wasted time and unnecessary pain over the last nine months," Glennon said.