By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
“This is a percolating little place,” Rev. Tom Morrette says of Glens Falls, his new home after being appointed as priest at St. Mary’s Parish on Warren Street.
“It’s my hope that I will be here until I retire at age 75. I’m pretty sure I will be, God willing. I’m looking forward to having eight good years here.”
Father Morrette, 67, is a native of Schenectady and a Siena College graduate. He was serving All Saints on the Hudson church in Mechanicville/Stillwater when Bishop Edward Sharfenberger selected him to replace the retiring Rev. Joseph Manerowski in Glens Falls.
Now an assistant pastor, too
For the first time in many years, the church also has an assistant pastor — Rev. Desmond Rossi, who said he served St. John the Baptist Church in Chestertown, St. James in North Creek and Blessed Sacrament in Hague about 10 years ago.
Father Morrette says, “I’m astounded by what a wonderful city Glens Falls is. I have a cousin here, Helen Fowler. She and her husband Vaughn are parishioners. I went to visit them my first weekend here in early September.”
He speaks of “just how friendly the people are, and how content they are to be in Glens Falls. They know they have a gem here. This is like paradise. People are connected here.…I’m so happy it’s kind of surprising. I left my last parish with great sadness, but this is such a nice, supportive community. I’m very glad to be here.”
Bishop puts emphasis on the school
Father Morrette said that Bishop Sharfenberger recognizes how important St. Mary’s/St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School is to the Albany Diocese, “and I have an education and school background.”
“He wants me to support the school,” he said. “One of his goals is to make the school grow and thrive. This parish was once a powerhouse, and his goal is to make the Parish and the school grow and flourish.”
Father Morrette graduated from Siena College and was a school principal and faith formation director in Westchester County. He was ordained as a deacon by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1988 and served as a permanent deacon before being ordained as a priest in 2005.
Mulling expansion to serve needy
Father Morrette said, “What astounds me is the activity and vitality of this place,” he said. “It’s a City parish, and there are a lot more services here, and a lot more drop-ins…People stop in the church all day long. There’s always someone in there.”
He said Pope Francis is encouraging churches “to reach out to the marginal, so I hope to develop programs to reach out to the needy. How, I don’t know yet. I will depend on the people to let me know.
“We have a food pantry and a lot of separate things, but maybe we can bring services together. The church is not just worship. I hope it can be a very powerful influence to help the needy. That’s one of my goals besides strengthening the school.
“We may have to look at expansion, to have a center where we can welcome these people. And recovery from addiction will be a very high priority. We are an addictive society, and people need to know that there is a way out through recovery programs.”
Father Morrette said he hopes to investigate using the St. Mary’s/St. Alphonsus school building “for after-school education and recreation for latch-key kids. It’s trendy now, and it’s a real service for working people, and it’s a good way to supply religious education for kids who don’t go to Catholic schools, without being too painful.”
900 for Masses each weekend
He said Masses at St. Mary’s “are very well attended. We get about 900 people each weekend. And we get 50 to 100 people at our weekday Mass.”
He said Sunday Mass is currently at 7:30, 9 and 11:15 a.m., but “we may tweak those times to allow for more time between services.”
Asked how the parish is doing, Father Morrette said, “We are in fairly good condition. The people are generous.”
He said he loves living in the Rectory, which he said needed “a lot of renovations. It needed to be painted and new lighting, but in six weeks we got it done. It’s a lovely historic home. I feel like I’m Winston Churchill. The rooms are so big and the ceilings so high.”
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