Deerfield churches to hold open houses on Dec. 10 

The First Church of Deerfield

The First Church of Deerfield STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The Holy Family Roman Catholic Church on Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield.

The Holy Family Roman Catholic Church on Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 12-07-2023 5:24 PM

DEERFIELD — Through the morning and afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 10, Deerfield’s churches are welcoming the public for a day of open houses and socializing with neighbors, as the community enters the final stretch of its 350th anniversary celebrations.

The event, organized by the nonprofit Friends of Deerfield, is an extension of the recently revived Eastern European Heritage Festival due to the prominent role of religion in the earlier days of Deerfield. The Friends of Deerfield, the town’s 350th Anniversary Committee and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) helped bring back the festival in October.

“Clearly part of the Eastern European heritage are the churches … everything was centered around churches in the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s,” said Friends of Deerfield board member and Treasurer Chris Harris, noting that conversations during the planning of the festival “spawned this idea of ‘Let’s do a standalone day for people of the local communities to go inside these churches.’”

Each of the four churches will open their doors to local residents, share historical handouts and show off the “unique” characteristics of the buildings. Some churches, like the First Church of Deerfield, also known as the Brick Church, will have displays up. In the Brick Church’s case, the public will get a chance to see a display focusing on nativity scenes from around the world.

Additionally, Harris said the day also provides an opportunity for people to visit churches they may not have visited before and for people to spend time with their neighbors and friends.

“It gives them the ability to showcase their churches,” Harris said. “(It’s also) to get people socializing and and get the community out before the holidays.”

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A reception will be held at the Pope John Paul II Center at the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with food and drinks from Kathleen Tomaus Catering. PVMA also is sponsoring a crafting demonstration from Pioneer Valley craftsperson Susan Urban from 1 to 3 p.m.

Deerfield resident and historian Peter Thomas has compiled a document detailing the history of many of the town’s churches and those interested in a digital copy can email Harris at Harris.chris.j@att.net.

The schedule of open houses and religious services is as follows:

■First Church of Deerfield, 71 Old Main St. – Worship service from 10 to 11 a.m. Open house from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

■Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, 29 Sugarloaf St. – Mass from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.. Open house from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

■Descent of the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Church, 44 Sugarloaf St. – Open house from 10 to 10:30 a.m. and 12 to 1 p.m. Mass from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

■Holy Name of Jesus Polish National Catholic Church, 15 Thayer St. – Open house from 1 to 2 p.m. Mass in Polish followed by Benediction 2 to 3 p.m.

Heading into the final month of Deerfield’s 350th anniversary celebrations, only one other scheduled event will be left after the church open houses. On Dec. 30 at the Town Hall at 1:30 p.m., residents are invited to an ice cream social as the town unveils a new ceramic tile mural by local artist Judith Inglese.

“We did more activities and events than we ever set out to do,” Harris said, reflecting on the year of celebrations. “It ended up being a good year.”

More information can be found at Deerfield350.org.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.