CORNING - After more than a century of worship and services, members of the St. Vincent De Paul’s Catholic Church congregation gathered on its front lawn on Dodge Avenue during a warm afternoon Saturday to say goodbye to their church with a final Mass.

More than 50 devoted members assembled under a white tent in front of the main doors for the ceremony, and those main doors were ceremoniously shut for the last time at the end of services. People gathered around for refreshments afterward and spent time appreciating several nostalgic mementos displayed to tell the history and story of St. Vincent's.

It was a somber experience for parishioners to say goodbye to St. Vincent's. But they understood it was time to let it go and to appreciate all the church has given its members and the community since it opened in 1913 on the corner of Flint Avenue and Ellicott Street, to today with its Dodge Avenue location and affiliation with All Saints Parish.

Many people in the congregation have been coming to the church for much of their lives.

“It’s a sad time. But we also know that it’s a time to move forward,” said longtime parishioner Richard Capo. “It has a lot of good memories and that’s what we want to dwell on, the good memories.”

Richard Capo and his wife Norma Capo said they’ve attended St. Vincent's for nearly 50 years.

Over the course of that time, the two were married at St. Vincent's, and their children were baptised at the church before eventually growing up and getting married there themselves. The Capo’s grandchildren are the latest, and last generation of their family to be baptised at St. Vincent's.

“Most of our family events have been here at this church,” said Richard Capo.

The Capo’s relationship with St. Vincent's is similar to that experienced by many of their fellow parishioners who’ve attended Mass alongside them throughout the years. The Capo’s said they will attend St. Mary’s Church going forward, which is also part of All Saints Parish.

“We’re going to miss it, there’s no doubt about it,” said Norma Capo. “It’s like what my husband said: it’s a new beginning at St. Mary’s for us. All of our family are going there.”

St. Vincent's closed abruptly following Mass on June 30 after a wooden beam fell from the ceiling and almost hit several people in the congregation. Officials inspected the church afterward and determined it wasn’t safe for occupation due to worsening structural integrity.

St. Vincent's had already been scheduled for closure prior to the incident. Providence Housing Development Corporation and Rochester’s Cornerstone Group have planned to construct apartment buildings and commercial space on the St. Vincent's property, with the church site to be repurposed for commercial or multi-use space.

The project is under preliminary development in coordination with the City of Corning.