An interior of view of the St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell, which is marking its 60th anniversary this month. Pilot file photo/Bob Morin
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LOWELL -- St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell celebrated its 60th anniversary on May 10, although its history can be traced back much further.
Back in the mid-1800s, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were invited to minister to the large number of French Canadian immigrants who had settled in the Lowell area in search of work in the cotton mills.
The immigrants were able to raise the funds for a down payment on an abandoned Unitarian worship site on Lee St. in the heart of downtown Lowell, and the Oblates opened the parish of St. Joseph on that site in 1868 under the direction of Father Andre-Marie Garin, OMI.
However, by 1956, the church of St. Joseph was underused, as French Canadians had constructed a larger church nearby. In response to the dwindling number of parishioners, Oblate Father Eugene Noury petitioned the Archdiocese of Boston to transform the church into a shrine dedicated to St. Joseph the Worker.
The archdiocese agreed, and the church was dedicated by Cardinal Richard Cushing on May 10, 1956.
Major renovations were made over the subsequent decades, and by the time the shrine celebrated its 25th and 40th anniversaries, it merited to be called "the hidden jewel in the heart of downtown Lowell."
As a way to mark the shrine's 60th anniversary, the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of the Cape from the Oblate Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape in the Canadian Province of Quebec will be present from June 18 to June 20, departing after a closing bi-lingual Mass at 7:00 p.m. on June 20.
The shrine's doors are open 14 hours each day for private prayer and Mass is celebrated daily at convenient times for working folks: 8:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Sacramental reconciliation is also available for three hours each day.
The Shrine Gift Shop and Bookstore is open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. providing a rich supply of religious goods, devotional materials and a large selection of religious reading materials.