Hopkinton and Westborough parishes journey forward with new shared priest-in-charge

Hopkinton and Westborough wardens pictured with new priest Mary Rosendale and MA and WMA canons Lori Robak The Rev. Mary Rosendale at the letter-of-agreement signing in July, with wardens Laurie LaBrecque of St. Paul's Church, Hopkinton and Sharyn Philcox of St. Stephen's, Westborough, and (at back) the Rev. Canon Martha Hubbard of the Diocese of Massachusetts and the Rev. Canon Rich Simpson of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

St. Paul’s Church in Hopkinton and St. Stephen’s Church in Westborough welcomed the Rev. Mary Rosendale as their shared priest-in-charge as of Sept. 1—an unusual arrangement because it brings together churches from two dioceses.  St. Stephen’s, Westborough, where Rosendale had been serving as an interim priest, is about five miles from St. Paul’s and part of the neighboring Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

“It’s been a joy to assist in bringing these two congregations and Mary Rosendale together.  They are remarkably open to a ministry God is calling them into together, and have shown great generosity and flexibility in working out the details,” the Rev. Canon Martha Hubbard, the regional canon for the Northern and Western Region of the Diocese of Massachusetts, said in a news release from the parishes.  “This is an experiment that will not only benefit these parishes but also be a model for others who might also be called to collaborate.”

The two congregations signed their letter of agreement with Rosendale in July.  She will celebrate 9 a.m. services every Sunday in Westborough, and two 11 a.m. Sunday services a month in Hopkinton, devoting 30 hours and 10 hours a week, respectively, to each parish.

“It is our prayer that the combination of gifts and resources that each parish offers will provide a new way of doing church and a new way forward.  We believe that by calling Mary as priest-in-charge for both St. Paul’s and St. Stephen’s, both churches can look with renewed hope to the future,” Westborough senior warden Sharyn Philcox said in the news release.

“We are thrilled that we are able to bring a shared priest to St. Paul’s and join the congregations in a supportive arrangement,” Hopkinton senior warden Laurie LaBrecque added.  “We look forward to starting this journey together with St. Stephen’s.”