The Rev. Peter Libasci, Bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, issued the following statement this week regarding the decision to tear down St. Joseph Church in Laconia prior to the sale of the property that includes the church building, the adjacent Busiel Mansion and the Holy Trinity School building:

"Many people have strong spiritual and emotional ties to Saint Joseph Church. Significant life events – weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations and first communions – have been celebrated within its walls, as well as countless moments of private prayer. The loss of an edifice that holds so many memories is, inevitably, quite difficult, and I empathize with those who feel pain at that loss.

"Fr. (Marc) Drouin has capably led the parish in discerning the way forward, given the changing nature of the community and present financial realities. With parish activities now being consolidated onto the Sacred Heart campus and Saint Joseph soon to be vacated, any future use of the building must be in keeping with its sacred character. Over the course of almost two years, and despite interest from several parties, it has become apparent that no buyer is able to guarantee an acceptable future use for the church building.

"There are many examples of former church buildings that, after having been sold by a parish, fall into disrepair or are used for unacceptable purposes. I wish to avoid Saint Joseph Church suffering the same fate, so the proper path is to raze the structure to allow a wider range of possibilities for the reuse of the property. This step, while painful, is absolutely necessary for the future of Saint Andre Bessette Parish."

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