Bishop Nickless supports memorial on church site
After months of input and prayer, Bishop R. Walker Nickless has determined that Visitation Church in Maryhill will not be rebuilt. Instead of a new church, Bishop Nickless has endorsed the wish of many of the Maryhill parishioners to build some type of "spiritual memorial" on the site where the church once stood. The century-old church was totally destroyed when intense storms swept through the area on Aug. 1.
In a letter sent to all Maryhill parishioners nearly two weeks ago, Bishop Nickless called the decision "the most difficult experience I have had to confront since my ordination as your Bishop last January". In making his decision not to rebuild the church, Bishop Nickless cited the changing demographics of the area and the current and projected decline in the number of priests.
Acknowledging his decision will create some sadness, Bishop Nickless called on Visitation parishioners to find comfort in their faith. "I have trust that this faith will be a strong source of consolation as you remember the past, as well as an inviting opportunity as you look to the future," wrote the Bishop.
Insurance settlement funds will be held in trust until the formal steps are taken regarding the canonical status of Visitation Church. Each household will be given the opportunity to choose a new parish to worship. Once those decisions have been made, an appropriate share of the insurance settlement will follow that family to their new church for their continued pastoral care.
Discussions will soon commence on what type of memorial is constructed on the Maryhill site.
Bishop Nickless also expressed his appreciation to Fr. Eugene Sitzmann, the retired pastor at Maryhill, and Fr. Armand Bertrand, pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Cherokee, for the exemplary ministry both priests have provided to Visitation parishioners during this challenging time.