Parishioners Given Seven Days to Leave Closed Scituate Church

By Patrick Ronan
Patriot Ledger
May 29, 2015

A judge has again ruled in favor of the Archdiocese of Boston and against Friends of Frances X. Cabrini.

A judge has ordered the parishioners who have been holding vigil at the closed St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Scituate for the past 10 years to vacate the church by next Friday.

Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Edward Leibensperger on Friday denied the emergency motion filed by the Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini to suspend the injunction barring the parishioners from entering the church by May 29 pending an appeal.

In his denial of the Friends’ motion, Leibensperger pushed back the order to vacate the Hood Street church by a week to 5 p.m. June 5.

“I can’t even comment on that,” Maryellen Rogers, one of the leaders of the Friends of St. Frances, said Friday when asked if the group will leave the church by the deadline.

Rogers said the Friends’ attorney will ask the Appeals Court early next week for an emergency suspension of the injunction.

Leibensperger on Friday also denied the Friends’ requests for injunctions against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to try to stop the archdiocese from “conveying, dismantling, developing or otherwise encumbering the (church) property” and from interfering with the parishioner group’s “use and enjoyment” of the church premises.

Leibensperger, in his ruling, wrote that the Friends’ motions “demonstrate a misapprehension of legal process and a stubborn refusal to accept the reality of final decisions of the courts.”

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

St. Frances was among dozens of Boston-area churches pegged for closure in 2004 as part of a reconfiguration plan intended to shrink the archdiocese’s growing debt.

But the St. Frances parishioners refused to leave their church, and in October they celebrated 10 years of holding a continuous round-the-clock vigil.

The Boston archdiocese filed a civil suit against the Friends of St. Frances in Norfolk County Superior Court after the parishioners failed to meet a March 9 deadline for leaving the church. The Friends filed a counterclaim for damages, including expenses they incurred for improvements to the church building.

Leibensperger heard arguments from both sides in a one-day bench trial May 5. The archdiocese has said the parishioners are trespassing and has suggested they join the congregation at St. Mary’s Church in Scituate.

Mary Elizabeth Carmody, a lawyer representing the parishioners, argued that the vigil holders have the right to be in the church based on their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

On May 14, Leibensperger ruled in favor of the archdiocese, ordering the Friends of St. Frances to end the vigil.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.