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St. James vigilers plan Easter services despite deal to sell Wellesley church

Posted by Evan Allen  April 6, 2012 11:05 AM

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Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff file
Parishoners in vigil at St. James the Great held a Mass in December 2008. Easter services are still planned this year.

Parishioners at St. James the Great Church will carry on with Easter services despite the announcement this week of a deal for the sale of the church for $3.8 million by the Archdiocese of Boston to the town of Wellesley.

St. James has been closed since 2004, but a small group of parishioners has refused to leave, holding vigil at the church they say is their spiritual home, and celebrating lay-led mass on Sundays and holidays.

This Easter weekend will be no different, according to parishioner spokeswoman Suzanne Hurley, who has said that the vigil group has no plans to leave the church.

On Good Friday, the vigilers plan to observe the Stations of the Cross at 3 p.m. and they’ll hold a service for the Adoration of the Cross at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, they’ll hold an Easter vigil, with a Communion Service at 7:30 p.m.

The town’s action, said Hurley, won’t change their course.

St. James was deconsecrated by the archdiocese last July, and parishioners filed an appeal with the Vatican to reverse the deconsecration. That appeal was recently denied. They have the option of appealing to the highest court of the Vatican, which Hurley said they may well do.

The sale of the church is contingent upon the completion of the appeals process, according to the archdiocese, and another appeal by the parishioners could slow down the process.

Town officials have said they hope to turn the 8-acre site on Route 9 into a playing field, swimming pool and ice rink, which would require tearing down the church.

The sale of the church is also contingent upon Town Meeting approval. The town has announced that it will hold a Special Town Meeting on June 13 so that meeting members can vote on it.

On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen outlined plans for St. James at a public meeting.

In one sprawling building, they envision an eight-lane pool and a full-sized ice rink; a fitness center with machines and weights; a tot-splash area and a warm-water therapy pool. Next to the pool and rink: a full-sized playing field, lit up at night.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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