Hallowell Church To Merge, But Remain Open 

HALLOWELL, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Roman Catholic bishop has decided to keep a Hallowell church open, even though the church’s administrator recommended closing it.

Bishop Richard Malone, after a teleconference with local church officials and advisers, decided Wednesday to keep Sacred Heart open and merge it with St. Michael Parish in Augusta, effective January.

The Rev. Francis Morin, administrator of the parish, tells the Kennebec Journal, that Malone’s decision to keep the 318-member church open was based on a sentiment that the parish, though small, is strong, active and relatively young.

Morin made a recommendation in September to close the church after the August death of the Rev. George Hickey, an Augusta native who had been Sacred Heart’s pastor since 1999.

Malone’s decision delighted parishioners, including Linda Masciadri, who called it “wonderful.”