After months of planning and praying, members of three Holyoke parishes formed the Catholic Collaborative of Holyoke the weekend of Oct. 3-4, 2020. The new collaborative brought together Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Jerome parishes. The announcement was made by Fathers Mark Stelzer (administrator of St. Jerome Parish) and Yerick Mendez (pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Immaculate Conception parishes) at weekend Masses in early September, 2020. “We have a great blessing here today, to build a community of faith, not only for ourselves but for your children and their children who by God’s grace will sit in these pews,” Father Stelzer told the congregation during his homily. “We have been given a unique gift of building a new and strong Catholic community in the city of Holyoke.”

This enabled the three parishes to share worship spaces and resources while still maintaining their independence as they awaited a descision by Bishop Byrne concerning the canonical status of the parishes.

In March 2017, after falling plaster resulted in the closing of Sacred Heart Church, the worship space for Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Masses there were moved into the chapel and parish gym. As a result of the collaborative, these Masses were then moved into the other worship sites. The former Sacred Heart Church building had been the worship space of Our Lady of Guadalupe since 1999 after Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church burned down.

“We realized with another winter season, we would like the people of Our Lady of Guadalupe to find a home and no longer celebrate Mass in a cold gym. It’s sort of a movement that came from the people themselves with the blessing of (then) Bishop Rozanski,” Father Stelzer said.

St. Jerome Parish is the oldest Catholic parish in Holyoke, opening in 1854. Sacred Heart Parish on Maple Street was originally founded as a mission church of St. Jerome’s in 1876.

“As more and more immigrants came to Holyoke in the 1800s, the parish became so large that the determination was made that part of the group would become a new church, a mission church of St. Jerome’s. That was the beginning of Sacred Heart Parish in Holyoke,” said Mary Ellen O’Connor, chair of the parish council at St. Jerome Parish.

At the beginning of all Sunday morning Masses, the congregation welcomed a statue from Sacred Heart Church and a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“There’s been so many changes this year. It’s been difficult for so many people, but at Our Lady of Guadalupe and Immaculate Conception, we’ve been looking forward to being together at St. Jerome’s and I think it’s actually a positive for our community,” said Deacon Jose Correa of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. “We’re all united in Christ. We’re all one family.”

On August 14th, 2021, Bishop William D. Byrne celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the merger of Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe parishes into St. Jerome Parish, located on Hampden Street in Holyoke.

The merger came at the direct request of the parishes involved and was the result of many years of discussion between the three faith communities. The celebration began with two processions in which parishioners from Our Lady of Guadalupe and Immaculate Conception walked to Veterans’ Memorial Park, where they were greeted by parishioners of St. Jerome.

Effective September, 2021, Father Francis Reilly became the pastor of the new parish.

The merger will allow for Masses to be celebrated at St. Jerome Church and Immaculate Conception Chapel on North Summer Street.