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As Visitation Church Shutters Doors, Parishioners Mourn End of Community

The 66-year-old church will hold its last mass on Sunday.

Kristine Kubes Callaghan first came to services at the on Lyndale Avenue in 1973 when she was just nine years old.

On Sunday the 200-family church is holding its final mass before being absorbed by the nearby as part of a reorganization plan of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and Callaghan, now a parish trustee, is looking back at her church’s role in structuring her life.

“I was raised at the parish,” she said. “I’ve moved, I’ve traveled around the world and I’ve always gone back to my home parish—buried my parents from there, buried my brother there, found and married my husband there—it’s been a real center of my life.”

Founded in 1946 by Archbishop John Gregory Murray, Visitation has had a strong educational mission and operated a school until 2008, when debts forced it to close. (The Stonebridge Charter School, which shares the church’s space, will continue to operate.)

While the Annunciation Church will continue to hold Thursday services to keep the building’s non-profit status, Callaghan said the church’s closure means the community will fragment. Visitation's pastor, Rev. Thomas O'Brien, has been reassigned to the Church of St. Cecilia in St. Paul.

“There will be a core group of people who do merge, but the world is a complicated place these days and people are used to choosing their place of worship and not being directed where to worship,” Callaghan said. “I know there will be a loss of our community experience because we are all not going to be going to the same place.”

O’Brien told Southwest Minneapolis Patch that his parishioners would make do.

“Certainly they were disappointed and concerned about Visitation and its future; many grew up here, were baptized here, have been coming here their whole lives,” O’Brien said. “But they've gone forward with great faith and confidence that if they continue to pray and they're open to all the possibilities that present themselves, that whatever happens will be for the very best.”

While Callaghan’s family is still deciding whether to join the Annunciation Church or move elsewhere, she agreed that Visitation parishioners are serene about the church’s closing.

“When the announcement first came out, it was shocking, sad, hurtful, all those kinds of negative feelings,” she said, “and then we had a community effort to grieve it out and try to come to acceptance, and by now we are through all that people are thankful that we had the experience we had.”

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