and The Catholics of Sterling first worshipped in established churches in Lancaster, Clinton, Leominster, and West Boylston. Although fulfilled by their worship, they expressed a strong desire to build a Church of their own. This dream was realized in 1953 when Bishop John J. Wright, first Bishop of Worcester, authorized the establishment of a parish in Sterling. The parishioners’ quest for land began in earnest and the original site was purchased in 1954.
St. Richard of Chichester, named to honor the patron saint of Richard Cardinal Cushing, of Boston, was built on Bridge Street, where it stands today. Its physical and spiritual growth was due to the hard work and enthusiasm of many. Throughout the years, pastors and parishioners were united in a common effort to provide the town with a spiritual and social center where families could be nourished in the faith, while experiencing a true sense of Catholic Christian community.
The early founding of the Women’s Guild, to be joined later by a Men’s Club, spearheaded numerous parish activities. These organizations were aligned for the purpose of raising funds and bringing families together in an entertaining and friendly environment. Parties, suppers, and the Apple Fiesta were but a few of the events that fostered the growth of St. Richard’s. As the years progressed, a youth group, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and an adult and youth choir were formed to further enrich the life of the community. A commitment to the less fortunate in Latin America was institutionalized through the generous efforts of Sister Village.
In 1991, under the leadership of Rev. Andre Remillard, an ambitious renovation program and capital campaign were undertaken, resulting in the beautiful sanctuary and Church interior that we presently enjoy. The Church and the society at large have changed dramatically in the past 7 decades. What has remained, however, is the spirit of the parish founders. Their example is tangibly felt as we move forward with renewed commitment, investment, and faith in the future!
Father Thomas B. Garlick was the pastoral leader assigned in 1997 by Bishop Reilly. Under his leadership a number of initiatives were successful, including special Lenten programs, missions, adult education series, the restoration of the Sacred Heart grotto, the purchase of carillon bells, the purchase of an acre of land and the establishment of new parking lots, placement of a new roof, new carpeting in the Church and hall, and successful Forward in Faith and Partners in Charity Campaigns. On July 1st of 2009 he was transferred to St. Ann Parish in Southborough, MA.
Reverend James Steuterman came to us after 18-1/2 years as pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in N. Oxford MA. He was an amazing pastoral leader for Saint Richards from 2009 until his retirement in July 2022. Father Steuterman was a well loved pastor who won over the hearts and minds of his Parishioners with his well thought out homilies and special programs. Father Steuterman oversaw many improvements around the property including redoing the roof, parking lot, and carpeting inside. Father Steuterman saw the parish through the Covid-19 pandemic and kept out church vibrant even when everyone was forced to be socially distanced and the church doors closed (temporarily). He installed a camera system that allowed parishioners to view Mass from the safety of their living rooms. Father Steuterman also renovated the outdoor chapel so parishioners could enjoy Mass outside once people were allowed to gather in groups again. Saint Richards is so grateful to the wonderful leadership of Father Steuterman.
The Parish Today
As Sterling and surrounding towns grow, the parish is poised to grow as well. Significant housing developments have increased the number of registered families. We have seen that people choose St Richard’s as their parish, despite living beyond the designated geographic area. Currently, the parish serves 500 families with over 100 children enrolled in religious education classes grades
Our pastor is Reverend Sebastian Sanchez. He comes to us after 4 years as associate pastor of St. Johns in Clinton, MA. We look forward to many years together as a spiritual family!
Saint Richard’s Parish is a vibrant worshipping community blessed by God spiritually and financially. Now is an exciting time for us to do more! It is time for us to invite and welcome others to worship, to grow together as children, youth, adults, families, single women and men, religious and clergy and to fulfill God’s purpose for us now and in the future.