Our Parish History
Our Lady of the Assumption
Father Florence J. Halloran, pastor of Saint Joseph’s Church, in Wakefield, began attending to Catholics in Lynnfield with services held in a fire station in 1920. This mission was the second to extend from Saint Joseph’s. Although the Lynnfield mission was small, totaling only 50 adults, within a short period of time they collected funds necessary to permit Father Halloran to erect a church. Our Lady of the Assumption was dedicated on August 20, 1922. Lynnfield remained a mission of Wakefield until October 1937, when Father James J. Mooney was appointed the church’s first resident pastor.
As the population of Lynnfield grew, so too did the congregation of OLA. By 1954, five Sunday Masses were being celebrated in the overcrowded sanctuary. It was decided that a new and larger facility was needed to adequately serve the dynamic community. Land broke on its construction on January 8th, 1956, and the new church was completed in November of that year. The growth in size of OLA's congregation was reflected in lay participation in parish social organizations. The Holy Name Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Miraculous Medal Sodality, and the Massachusetts Catholic Women’s Guild were among those organizations active in the parish at this time.
In 1961, Monsignor John J. Linnehan met another need of the growing Catholic population in Lynnfield with the opening of Our Lady of the Assumption School. The institution was staffed by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia who transferred to Lynnfield from the recently closed Holy Trinity School in the South End of Boston. Originally serving only Grades 1-4, in 1968 it expanded to include up to Grade 8. OLA School now also offers full-day preschool programs for children as young as three years old.
By 1975, major renovations were needed to the “new” church that had served OLA's community for the past twenty years. Projects included a total remodel of the sanctuary and the addition of a children’s room and confessional. In the years immediately following the renovations, the church was also outfitted with a new digital organ. In 1979, OLA was selected to participate in a pilot program of Spiritual Development. One of the first parishes in the Archdiocese chosen to host this program, OLA was intended to serve as a model for the implementation of this program in a suburban parish.
Through the generosity of two OLA families, beautiful new doors allowing more natural light into the sanctuary were installed and Bishop Mark O'Connell blessed them on December 15, 2018.
Saint Maria Goretti
Saint Maria Goretti parish was created in February, 1960, to serve Catholics residing in Lynnfield Center and adjacent parts of Wakefield. Prior to this time, Our Lady of the Assumption, founded in 1922, was the only Catholic parish in Lynnfield. Construction of Saint Maria Goretti’s was completed in late 1960, and the first Mass was celebrated by Rev. James A. Garrity on Christmas Eve. The church was dedicated on April 29th, 1961.
Under the leadership of Fr. Garrity, parish social organizations, such as the Ladies Sodality, gained popularity among the congregation. Following the service of Fr. Garrity, Saint Maria Goretti welcomed Fr. William Shinnick who shepherded the parish through changes brought on by Vatican II. Among these changes was the establishment of the first parish council. Saint Maria Goretti’s celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1986 with a congregation 700 families strong.
The Lynnfield Catholic Collaborative
In 2013, under the Archdiocese of Boston's Disciples in Mission pastoral plan promulgated by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, St. Maria Goretti parish, Our Lady of the Assumption parish, and OLA School became components of the Lynnfield Catholic Collaborative. As a Phase I Collaborative, the Lynnfield Catholic community was one of the first 12 to pioneer this new organizational and evangelization model in the Archdiocese. Father Paul Ritt was appointed the first pastor of the LCC, with Father Anthony Luongo as the Parochial Vicar.
The Merged Parish: Ave Maria
As of July 1, 2020, as decreed by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Saint Maria Goretti Parish and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish were merged to form one new parish with two worship sites. "The just and serious reasons that motivate this action include the need to have a single faith community, capable of more effectively sustaining itself, evangelizing and sharing the resources of the Lynnfield Catholic Community." Both churches retain their respective names, and Masses and sacraments continue to be celebrated at both houses of worship. After receiving more than 60 suggestions from parishioners, the pastor and a subcommittee of the Parish Pastoral Council offered three potential names for the merged parish to Cardinal O'Malley. In August 2020, the new parish was given the name Ave Maria Parish. Hail Mary and Maria!