Archbishop announces decision on Tacoma’s Holy Rosary

  • Written by Northwest Catholic
  • Published in Local
Sacramental and pastoral ministries at Holy Rosary Parish will be discontinued as of August 31, 2020. Photo: Courtesy Holy Rosary Parish Sacramental and pastoral ministries at Holy Rosary Parish will be discontinued as of August 31, 2020. Photo: Courtesy Holy Rosary Parish

TACOMA – All services and ministries at Tacoma’s Holy Rosary Parish will be discontinued as of August 31, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne announced in an August 13 letter to members of the parish community. He delivered the news to the parish’s pastoral and finance councils during a Zoom meeting earlier in the day.

The archbishop met late last year with the councils to discuss the “pressing issues and challenges your parish community faces,” he wrote, adding, “I asked your team to consider what it means to ‘be church,’ and more specifically, what this means for Holy Rosary Parish.”

“After months of review, speaking with the parish community leadership, consulting the deanery priests, and praying, I agree with the majority of your leadership’s assessment that Holy Rosary is unable to exist on its own,” the archbishop wrote.

The parish’s lack of viability was clear before the pandemic and is even clearer now, he said, noting that most Holy Rosary parishioners have already joined other parishes, as the rest will now have to do.

“This is a very sad reality. It is also one that is not unique to Holy Rosary,” the archbishop said. “Several other parishes across the archdiocese are in similar fragile states, and we can no longer ignore this painful reality.”

The archbishop is directing nearby parishes to “work together to assess the current reality at each individual parish and collectively, and then recommend a path forward,” he said, adding that this work will require “merging parish communities.”

“Our goal is to ensure Catholics in this region have a vibrant, thriving Catholic community,” he said.

The archbishop’s Holy Rosary decision follows a number of painful losses for the parish community in recent years.

The parish’s priest administrator, Father Michael Wagner, died in May 2018 after collapsing during Mass, having suffered an inoperable brain hemorrhage.

Holy Rosary’s iconic church building has been closed since October 2018, when sheetrock fell from the ceiling. After concluding that the required structural repairs would cost nearly $18 million, in August 2019 then-Archbishop J. Peter Sartain ordered the building demolished. (In his letter, Archbishop Etienne said Holy Rosary’s buildings will remain intact for the time being.)

The parish’s membership and finances have been dwindling.

And last December, a tabernacle holding the Blessed Sacrament was stolen from the parish campus.

“I recognize how difficult this decision is for everyone involved with Holy Rosary,” Archbishop Etienne said in his August 13 letter. “Thank you for your patience and continued prayers. I ask that we continue to journey together in prayerful communion.”

Read the full letter below.