Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in Westfield was founded in 1903 by Polish immigrants, who first settled in the town in the 1890s. Bishop Thomas Daniel Beaven of Springfield had asked the Missionaries of La Salette to come to the aid of his Polish-speaking parishioners. As there were no Polish speaking La Salette Fathers at that time, five missionaries were sent at the Bishop’s expense to Poland to learn the Polish language. In 1906, the first La Salette Father arrived in Westfield to take charge of the new parish. Holy Trinity Catholic Church, on Elm Street in Westfield, was built in 1909-1910. A parish rectory was also built next to the church, followed by Holy Trinity School in 1921.
Catholics from western Ukraine who had settled in the area of South Deerfield formed Descent of the Holy Ghost parish in 1920. Land was soon purchased on Sugarloaf Street from Charles Mosher. An 1850s carriage shed on the property was moved to a new foundation and adapted to become what is now called Descent of the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Church. Across the street is Holy Family Roman Catholic Church.
While Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Oldtown Folks depicts life in South Natick at a time in the late eighteenth century, when Congregationalists still dominated New England towns, other denominations would be established in the course of the nineteenth century. The first Catholic Church in Natick was Sacred Heart, constructed between 1873 and 1889 on Eliot Street. Services were held in the church before it was finally completed, with members meeting in the basement, sitting on plank and barrel benches, on Easter Sunday 1874. Sacred Heart Parish continued for 130 years, but was closed at Christmas 2004. The Archdiocese of Boston announced the closing of several parishes due to a shortage of priests and dwindling attendance and, perhaps, the financial impact of the priest sex abuse scandal. Most members of Sacred Heart soon joined other parishes, but others protested the decision. The appeals of Sacred Heart and nine other Boston-area parishes were denied by the Vatican earlier this year, although vigils continue at many closed parishes.
Built in 1860, Saint Michael’s Cathedral, on State Street in Springfield, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. The Cathedral was designed by the prominent church architect, Patrick Keely. The interior has many examples of Keely’s ornate plasterwork. The Cathedral was expanded in 1996 with the addition of a new wing called the Bishop Marshall Center.