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Go In Peace

Last month, the Archdiocese of New York announced that 112 parishes will be merged and at least 31 churches will be closed. But the parishioners of one church in Manhattan are trying to make the Cardinal change his mind. Kymelya Sari reports. (0:14)


Every Tuesday, at 7pm, a group of parishioners gather at Our Lady of Peace church.

AMBI: Door opening and murmurs of prayer

Parishioners hold a weekly vigil to pray that their church will not be closed.

AMBI: Prayer

Father Bartholomew Daly (bar-THAW-lo-myoo day-lee) quotes a line from Chinua Achebe’s (Chinua A-ceh-bay’s) book, Things Fall Apart, to describe how the news of the closing has affected the parish.

DALY: They have put a knife in the things that held us together and we have fallen apart. (0:05)

The parishioners have sent a petition to the Cardinal, but their appeal has been unsuccessful.

Aldo Bruschi (Bruce-ski) was an altar boy at the church. His grandparents and parents were buried from Our Lady of Peace. He wants to do more.

BRUSCHI: I want to lead a group of people to the Cardinal’s residence and protest. But Fr. Daly said no, don’t do that. (0:07)

Monsignor Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for the newspaper, National Catholic Reporter. He says closing churches is something cardinals do not take lightly.

REESE: It’s an admission of defeat, of failure, in a certain sense. (0:05)

Our Lady of Peace is financially solvent. But Reese says whether or not to close a church doesn’t simply boil down to the finances.

REESE: Today, we want our parishes to do more than simply have mass on Sunday. (0:05)

For example, having religious education programs, which Our Lady of Peace doesn’t.

Reese says the Cardinal is unlikely to change his mind.

REESE: In most cases, these petitions end up really not going anywhere. (0:05)

Our Lady of Peace was built by Italian immigrants in 1919. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. So, its façade cannot be changed. But it sits on valuable real estate. So, parishioners like Gary Warren are worried about what’s going to happen.

WARREN: I have the everlasting candle for my mother and for my brother. Where is that candle going to be? (0:06)

The parishioners say they’ll continue to appeal for support on Facebook and through an online petition. They hope that will move the Cardinal to make an exception before the church is scheduled to close next August.

Kymelya Sari, Columbia Radio News


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