The Trinity-St Mary's Covenant
In April, 1972, the Trinity Episcopal Church and the
St Mary's of the Assumption
Roman Catholic Church signed the Milford Covenant. This was only the second covenant signed
worldwide between a Roman Catholic parish and an Anglican parish. Since the first
covenant (in Southbridge, Massachusetts) has lapsed, the Trinity-St Mary's Covenant is now the oldest active Covenant in the world.
In the literal sense, the Covenant is an agreement for each parish to pray for the other
at their principal weekly services, but it has been much more than that. Over the
years, the Covenant has grown into a social and spiritual relationship as well as an
experience in working, growing and learning together. The focus has been on areas
where the two parishes can cooperate, with the understanding that opportunities for a
greater togetherness will come in God's time.
Many of the specific activities growing out of the Covenant have focused on community
service. These include the annual delivery of Thanksgiving Day dinners to people who
are alone, participation in a range of activities connected with the Milford Shelter
for the Homeless, and joint efforts to raise money for the hungry.
The Covenant has manifest itself in many ways. During Advent and Lent, priests from
the two parishes have exchanged pulpits and the two congregations have regularly joined
together for services such as Evensong. Each parish sponsors a table at the annual fair
of the other. They have also joined together for a range of social activities, including
a trip to Washington, D.C. and a series of trips to the Boston Pops.
One of the most notable achievements of the Covenant occurred in 1994, when the
Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts asked Trinity to participate in the resettlement
of a Bosnian family in the Milford area. Trinity Parish contacted St Mary's, and
together they sponsored an extended family: two brothers, their wives, and four
children. This effort required a great deal of coordination and cooperation between
the parishes. Committee members were recruited from both parishes to deal with
the families' needs: housing, jobs, schooling and language. Today, through the hard
work of everyone involved, especially the family members themselves,
the families are self sufficient. The families own homes
in Milford, and have welcomed other members of their family from Bosnia.
In 2002, we celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the covenant. An
article about the celebration was published in
the Catholic Free Press.