Fr. Edward D. Niccolls, Pastor
Fr. Charles Omolo, Assoc. Pastor
Saint George is a legendary figure from the late third century. Many of the details of his life have been lost. He was probably the child of Christian nobles: his father from Asia Minor, and his mother from the town of Lydda (Lod) in Palestine. Saint George and his father were soldiers in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. He was favored by the Emperor and rose to the rank of military tribune.
Diocletian initiated a persecution of Christians in AD 303. Diocletian offered numerous gifts to George if he would renounce his Christianity but he refused. The emperor ordered that he be tortured and executed. Saint George gave his wealth to the poor before his impending death and was beheaded on April 23, 303. In our calendar, April 23 is the Feast of Saint George.
As with many ancient heroic figures, the accounts of his achievements are more fantastical than reality as seen in the story of his killing the dragon. One version tells of a king’s daughter who was to be sacrificed to appease the dragon who resided in a local swamp. George intervened and made the sign of the cross; this transfixed the dragon and George used his sword, allowing the princess to lead the tamed dragon into the city. Once in the city, George instructed the people to be baptized and slayed the dragon. The townspeople were converted. Many theologians have used this episode as an illustration of the triumph of good over evil.
There is ample evidence in that George was venerated by early Christians throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. He was recognized as a most important martyr and there were numerous churches, monasteries and shrines dedicated to him. Pope Gelasius (492-496) states that, like many early saints, George was among those "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God."
Saint George personified the image of knighthood and was an inspiration for Christian Crusaders in the Holy Land. He remains a prominent saint in the faith all around the world.
Includes information found at CatholicOnline.org
Rev. George V. O’Rourke 1951-1957
Rev. Arthur A. Faron 1957-1966
Rev. Msgr. Francis J. Manning 1966-1985
Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Carelli 1985-1993
Rev. Henry A. Donoghue 1993-2007
Rev. Ronald G. Falco 2007-2013
Rev. Richard Reidy (Admn.) 2013-2014
Rev. Edward D. Niccolls 2014-present
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The Parish of St. George was established in 1951 after John J. Wright was appointed Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Worcester. St. George was one of the first of 30 parishes created in the Diocese in what has been called the Golden Age of the Catholic Church in Worcester. Parish boundaries were redrawn so that the new church included parishioners from Immaculate Conception Parish, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, and St. Mary’s Parish in Jefferson.
To house the new parish, the Diocese of Worcester purchased the residence and two acres at 40 Brattle Street from Mildred Crompton Smith, widow of Harry Worcester Smith. Both the Compton and Smith families were prominent in local social and business circles. The purchase price was $22,000.
When Pastor Rev. George V. O’Rourke first entered the residence, he saw a bronze statue of St. George, which occupied a prominent place in the Smith home. The statue was later given to the church by the family, and in turn, gave a name to the new parish. It still resides in the rectory.
For six years, parishioners received the sacraments, attended meetings and religious education classes in the chapel – the first floor of the current rectory. The priests in residence lived in the floors above.
When he blessed the new chapel on November 25, 1951, Bishop Wright shared a prophetic vision, saying “The parish altar should be readily accessible to every member of a parish any day of the week. The parish church should be like one’s own home. The sacramental life of the parish should be intimately close to the personal and family lives of all the people.”
To serve the needs of a growing parish community, the current church was completed in 1957 under the direction of contractor Francis Harvey and Sons, architect Cornelius Buckley, assisted by parishioner Donald Boyce, and with stained glass windows designed by parishioner John Paul Reardon, professor of Fine Arts at the College of the Holy Cross.
Rev. Arthur A. Faron celebrated mass for the first time on Christmas Eve in 1957. The church was formally consecrated on April 23, 1958, the Feast of St. George. Bishop Wright blessed not only our new church, but also the many young parishioners who received the sacrament of Confirmation on that night as well. The new parish grew and flourished, and parishioners enthusiastically supported such organizations as the Women’s Guild, and the Men’s Club. Over the years, The Women’s Guild has sponsored many beneficial social and religious activities, most notably the Bayberry Fair, begun in 1957, and later, the Harvest Festival. The Men’s Club has supported many physical improvements in the church, and contributed scholarship assistance to our youth. The funds for their good work are derived primarily from the weekly Sunday Coffee Shop. This ministry provides not only for the needs of the parish, but also contributes substantially to the sense of community in our church.
Religious education classes, social and religious groups, an active Catholic Youth Council, and a Boy Scout Troop contributed to a need for more facilities. During Monsignor Francis Manning’s pastorate, the Conference room was designed and renovated, an elevator installed, and, most significantly, the Parish Center was built. This building, financed with a line of credit of $200,000 was dedicated by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan on January 15, 1984. The contractor was former parishioner Edward G. Granger, Jr., and the architect was parishioner Donald Boyce and his son, John.
Father (later Monsignor) Richard Carelli had a particular interest in, and talent for, music. He was instrumental in the installation of a steeple and carillon in 1990. In addition, toward the end of Monsignor Manning’s pastorate, it was found that the original organ had ceased to function, and it was no longer feasible to repair it. A campaign was mounted, and parishioners purchased a new organ. The St. George choir had wandered from the choir loft to the main church to the sanctuary behind the altar. In the early 1990s, they were in the choir loft – accompanied by a brand new organ, purchased for $58,818. During Father Carelli’s pastorate, the final payment was made on the parish center loan, taken out only five years earlier.
Rev. Henry A. Donoghue undertook extensive renovations of the church proper and rectory as well. Improvements included the Reconciliation Room and the doors at the front of the church. During his pastorate, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel was instituted (1996). Parishioners and non-parishioners alike have faithfully committed themselves to this sacred place. Our parish was enhanced with the formation of the Spiritual Life Committee, Life in the Spirit seminar, and the early development of the Parish Pastoral Council. This body, distinct from the old Parish Council, serves to advise the pastor on matters pertaining to St. George Church.
Rev. Ronald G. Falco was appointed pastor by Bishop Robert J. McManus in 2007. During his 6 year pastorate the Sanctuary was redesigned and restored, including the relocation of the Tabernacle and the addition of a new floor. Landscaping was enhanced and the St. George Gala was initiated. Fr. Ron called us to grow in our identity as “disciples of Jesus.” Through Bible Study, the formation of Baptism Preparation teams, enriching our Religious Education Ministry and the addition of Community Service and Theological Reflection for Confirmation Candidates, the stage was set for the formation of intentional disciples. We remember Fr. Ron for many pasta suppers, inviting the children of the parish to decorate the Rectory Christmas tree, and celebrating the Feast of St. George with his homemade chicken soup.
Rev. Richard Reidy was appointed Administrator of St. George Parish from December 2013 until July 2014. In his short tenure, he oversaw all parish operations. Fr. Reidy’s prayerful simplicity invited us to deeper holiness. He bridged the gap with great kindness and skill until our next permanent Pastor was assigned.
Rev. Edward D. Niccolls , Associate Pastor from 1980-1984, returned to the parish as our seventh pastor in 2014. As associate pastor, he helped to initiate the building of the Parish Center. Rev. Niccolls oversaw the installation of our new Baptismal Font which was originally designed by Fr. Donoghue. He has added five new members to our Parish Staff, the parking lot has been resurfaced and plans to purchase a new organ and to update its location have begun.
St. George Church, A Community of Ministries, continues to be a welcoming place for all: meaningful liturgies, ample opportunity for reception of the sacraments, many parishioners willing to commit to our many ministries, a strong religious education program, enthusiastic dedication to outreach in the Worcester area, and a true sense of community as seen in social events and the weekly coffee shop after mass. Bishop Wright’s prophetic words in 1951 continue to ring true at St. George Parish:
“The parish church should be like one’s own home. The sacramental life of the parish should be intimately close to the personal and family lives of all the people.”
Gathered in great part from the parish 50th Anniversary Celebration information.