Joyce Gross, of Old Lycoming Township, was married in Ascension Church at 2100 Linn St., Newberry, on July 4, 1957. All of her children were baptized and confirmed there.
On Saturday, Gross was among hundreds of people who gathered for the church's final Mass and closing rites.
The church, along with that of Mater Dolorosa Church, 634 Hepburn St., is one of two Catholic churches to close this weekend as part of the Scranton Diocese's consolidation efforts.
JOHN NEVILL JR./Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Parishioners celebrate the final Mass at Ascension Catholic Church, 2100 Linn St., Saturday. Among those participating were the Revs. Shane L. Kirby and Glenn McCreary, top far right.
Mater Dolorosa's final Mass is scheduled for noon today. The two churches now are part of the St. Joseph the Worker Parish, which holds services at the Annunciation Church, 702 W. 4th St.
Gross said she was sad to bid farewell to her home church of 55 years, but added that she understands the need for the consolidation.
Her sentiments were echoed by Joseph Radley, of Old Lycoming Township.
"I'm sad and I'll miss it but I recognize the necessity of doing it," Radley said. "It is a great community here at Ascension but it will be a great community at Annunciation."
Claire Caputo, of South Williamsport, was baptized in the church in 1948. Although she later moved to the Philadelphia area, during her monthly visits to the area, Ascension was her home church. When she returned to the area in 2004, she attended services regularly there.
She understands the challenges facing the church, among them fewer priests and an aging congregation.
"I'm sad, but I'm also realistic," Caputo said. "It is what it is. They have to do it."
That spirit was extolled by the Rev. Charles J. Cummings, who delivered the sermon during the Mass. Cummings served as the last pastor of the church when it was an independent parish.
He told those in attendance that memories are good, but should not be the basis or substitute for faith.
"Faith is not a memory or a building," he said. "It is a gift freely given by God based on trust in God and His grace."
Cummings said he was "thrilled" to learn the new parish would be called St. Joseph the Worker. For one thing, Joseph is Cummings' middle name. More than that, St. Joseph personifies qualities that make a vibrant parish, he said.
Joseph's faith, obedience to God and work ethic are traits all Christians should aspire to have, Cummings said.
The Ascension parish was created in 1909. The church was completed 20 years later. The early parishioners of the church endured the Great Depression and other tumultuous times, but dealt with those times "with grit and determination," Cummings said, adding that current parishioners should meet today's challenges in the same fashion.
Cummings said he is confident faith and God's help will allow the new parish to be stronger than ever.
An honor guard comprised of Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus led the procession at the beginning and end of the service. They were members of the Father Rechsteiner Assembly, of Williamsport, and the St. Katherine Drexell Assembly, of Selinsgrove.