SALEM — The parishioners who run Wednesday-night bingo at St. James Church have resigned and the long-standing game is about to shut down.
The end of a charity gambling game that began decades ago and produces substantial revenue for the parish appears to be the result of a clash between the parishioners who have run the game for years and the new Salem collaborative.
Rich Julien, a volunteer who heads the bingo committee, made the announcement to the estimated 240 bingo players who packed the church basement Wednesday night.
“There were a lot of tears ... a lot of hugs,” he said. “I was overwhelmed by the reaction that these people had.”
The Rev. Daniel Riley, pastor of the collaborative, will announce the news in this weekend’s church bulletin, which is distributed at the collaborative’s four Catholic churches: Immaculate Conception, St. Anne, St. John the Baptist and St. James.
“I was respectfully informed that the bingo leadership team was resigning and ... would be ending the Wednesday-night bingo at St. James on Wednesday, April 9 ... .” Riley wrote in the bulletin article.
“I expressed to the head of the bingo leadership team my regret at seeing the bingo close, and at the same time, my respect for the right of the bingo leadership team to choose to resign, and my thanks for all that the bingo leadership team and all the bingo workers have done,” the pastor wrote.
Riley said he contacted the Archdiocese of Boston and “was given immediate and complete assurance they would financially see us through whatever challenges this change brings.”
He declined to comment beyond what was printed in the bulletin.
In addition to being a popular social event, bingo is big business for the Catholic church and many other nonprofit organizations — not to mention the state.