Parishioners protest closure of Newburgh church

Mid-Hudson News
July 27, 2015

Protestors contend the Archdiocese apparently has money to spare and can keep St. Mary's open

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 several 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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