Parishioners protest closure of Newburgh church


Parishioners rally in front of recently purchased bishops’ home
in Balmville

BALMVILLE – Some 50 parishioners from St. Mary’s Church in
the City of Newburgh protested outside an Archdiocese of New York-owned
bishops’ residence in Balmville on Saturday.

Parishioners chose the home, which was recently purchased and renovated
by the New York Archdiocese for an estimated $1.05 million, to demonstrate
that the Archdiocese apparently has money to spare, yet, St. Mary’s,
along with a number of other Catholic churches around the state, will
be closed on August 1.

St. Mary’s has appealed to the Congregation for the Clergy, the
first level of the Vatican’s court system, to keep the church open.

Marietta Allen, director for St. Mary’s outreach, parishioner and
organizer for the protest, said members of the church feel the Archdiocese
could make better decisions with how they spend their money, the bishops’
residence, being one example since there are only two bishops living in
such a large place.

“We think they can allocate and use their money better; there’s
lots of ways that you can use the assets of the church better,”
said Allen. “So, we’re here; we’re pointing out good
churches are being closed, money is being spent that we question the amount
and why it should be so much and then we also ask them to respect the
appeal process and to leave us open until we know what the Vatican thinks
because we think it’s an unjust closing; that’s the point
of the whole thing. So, we do have recourse and we have rights as Catholics
to appeal to the Vatican.”

The situation of not knowing whether the church will be closed in August,
or possibly after the appeal process, is weighing heavily on many of the
parish members. Kiki Hayden, a 90-year-old parishioner who has been a
part of the church since she was baptized there, said that closing St.
Mary’s would be a travesty and she is finding the reality of it
being shut down very hard to deal with.

“I do feel devastated right now; it’s actually mentally and
physically very bad,” said Hayden. “I do work every day, thank
goodness, and that helps me but, this is taking its toll on me.”

St. Mary’s parishioners are currently in a three-month cycle of
the appeal process and are expecting to know the Vatican’s decision
by August or September. Members of the church are asking anyone who is
interested, or who use any of the 36 charitable programs through St. Mary’s,
to contact the church to get information on how to help keep it from closing.


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