Final Mass celebrated at steelworkers' church

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

DUNDALK, Md. (AP) The local Roman Catholic church that served steelworkers for 47 years has celebrated its final Mass.

Christ the King Church offered its last service on Sunday over Labor Day weekend, when the country honors its working men and women.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore closed the parish because of a dwindling number of priests and worshippers. Bethlehem Steel has been sold, and most of the company's former workers have moved away or retired. Three other Catholic churches are within two miles of the once-prosperous community of steelworkers.

The Josephite Priests and Brothers opened the church in 1956, attracting about 320 families in southeast Baltimore County. It now has about 100 families, and usually no more than 40 people at any one service.

Sally Testani, 60, took a picture with friends, then spoke about her parents, John and Catherine Stavisky, who were founding members of the parish.

Bishop William Newman noted the significance of the timing when he spoke to the crowd of weeping parishioners. He said the church has ''lost its purpose.''

''This is a tough thing to do,'' Newman said after the service.

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