BATAVIA – A final Mass – celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Malone before more than 700 parishioners and friends – marked the closing Sunday of a Catholic church founded more than a century ago by Italian immigrants.

St. Anthony of Padua, named for a saint from an ancient Roman community in northern Italy, was founded in 1908 with 50 families who arrived in Western New York to work on farms and in factories.

St. Anthony’s is the first of the city’s four parishes to close.

The closing ceremony took place in an Italian Carrara marble sanctuary built in 1914 and capped with a bell tower. Malone offered the final homily to an audience that included several Sisters of Mercy, the order that founded and staffed the church’s school for decades. The school and community center/gymnasium closed several years ago.

St. Anthony’s merged with Sacred Heart of Jesus, where services will continue, a few blocks away.

The two parishes, known as Ascension Catholic Church, have about 1,200 families.