There were hugs and teary eyes at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Maplewood on Saturday. The parishioners met for their final Mass. The church is one of many closed last year by the Archdiocese of St. Louis in the largest restructuring in its history.
Mass was first celebrated in Maplewood in March 1904, and the convent on the corner of Marshall and Anna was built in 1937 according to the church’s website.
Cliff Hassler, a church pastor in the early 1980s, said after the Mass, “There’s a sadness for losing the church and the community. When I look at these people, quite a few of them I know. And you wonder when am I going to see them again?”
David Barks said he has been in the parish since 1961. “All our kids were baptized here, we were married here, and I went to school here,” he said. “The school closed in ’70 or ’71.”
He looked up at the windows and said that at one time the eight center panes of glass at the bottom all opened. “There used to be a big wheel, if you look there you can see where the shaft was for it, and you just turn the wheel and it opened all those windows.”
Karen Clerc said she was baptized at Immaculate Conception before her parents moved away, but she came back.
“My grandfather owned a grocery store in Maplewood, Silar’s Market, it was at Yale and Bruno, and he built a two-family flat next door, and my father and his brother were raised in the store on the second floor,” Clerc said. When she and her husband, Ken Leclerc, came back from Japan where he was serving in the Air Force, her grandfather sold them the house.
Ken Leclerc passed away last year. “My husband passed away in December, and I feel like this is another death in the family, and I’m just really sad. It’s so hard,” she said.
“I joined St. Mary Magdalen because I went to school there for a year and a half, and I thought I’d try it out again,” Clerc said.