BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Parishioners left the Saint Louis King of France Church in Baton Rouge Sunday morning with mixed emotions.
The service ended with an announcement from Father Michael Alello that the place of worship would be closing in late November.
"In the 1960s and 70s when this parish was established, this part of town was booming," Alello said. "The catholic population simply isn't here anymore, and so we're having to adjust as any new organization would to better serve its people, sometimes that means we have to consolidate."
Alello cited the changing demographics and a shortage of priests as the reason for the closure. His staff and many of the parishioners will be moving to Saint Thomas More on Goodwood Boulevard, a roughly five-minute drive from St. Louis King of France Church. Alello hopes for a smooth transition since he has already been doing double duty... serving as both the pastor for Saint Louis and Saint Thomas More. But he said there are people with doubts.
"I've spent a lot of time listening with them, and there's always fear in change," Alello said. "And what I've invited them to do continuously is to simply have their hearts open to what God is inviting us to do now."
That includes Michael Charier. He says St. Louis is a big part of the community surrounding North Sherwood Forest Drive.
"It's sad, I've been a member since the opening of our church, a founding member," Charier said. "It's a sad thing but it's something that the church feels has got to happen and it's God's house."
Myrtly Joyner and Judy Johnson say they won't let the change in venue impact their worship. "The building is not what matters it's what's inside and what's in your heart and knowing that God will strengthen us through whatever move is necessary," Joyner said.
"It is the people that make the church and not the church itself so we'll be together with everybody and make new friends," Johnson said.
The last service at Saint Louis will be on Sunday, November 26th. The church will officially close the following Tuesday.
The accompanying catholic school, also called St. Louis King of France, is also closing. Alello says no decision has been made on what to do with the property.