Parishioners Vow to Continue Fighting Despite Plans to Sell Church Property in Beachmont

July 20, 2011
By
In a curious and surprising move, the Archdiocese of Boston announced last Thursday that it was going to desanctify Our Lady of Lourdes Church (OLOL) in Beachmont – and six other churches that are still in flux – and perhaps sell it.

All of this came as OLOL is in the middle of an intense Canonical Appeal in Rome – an appeal that appears to be headed in the direction of possibly re-opening the church in some fashion.

John Verrengia has led the OLOL’s appeal process for the last seven years every since the Archdiocese suppressed the Parish in 2004, and he said that he was surprised at Thursday’s abrupt announcement.

“Other than being moderately annoyed and surprised, this hasn’t changed anything for us,” said Verrengia on Monday. “We still have an appeal ongoing in Rome and our advocate in Rome said that if the Archdiocese moves to sell the property – which they are not supposed to do – he will move to do whatever legally needs to be done to stop that process. We’re still plodding along here and we’re getting ready to have another OLOL Mass and update in the near future.”

The official release came at noon on Thursday without much notice at all.

It mentioned that after weeks of consultation, reflection and prayer, Cardinal Sean O’Malley had made a decision regarding eight church buildings in the Archdiocese – all of them those that are on appeal in Rome.

The decree actually became official on Monday, July 18th.

“The consultation process was very important and of great assistance to me in making decisions on each of these properties,” said the Cardinal in a statement. “I am particularly grateful to those who participated in the online surveys and in the parish consultations, to the pastors and Catholic faithful of the welcoming parishes, and to the Presbyteral Council for providing great perspective on each Church property. I know how difficult the parish closings were, especially for those parishioners directly impacted. I want you to know I have heard you. I appreciate your strong commitment to your parish. What I have heard from these consultations is that we have reached a point as a community of believers where we must relegate these Church buildings as part of the continuing healing and rebuilding of the Archdiocese. I continue to put my trust and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ to help us come together as one Catholic family, inspired by the Holy Spirit and guided in our principles and commitment to do God’s work.”

One of the churches, of course, was OLOL in Beachmont, and it was officially desanctified as a church building and relegated to “profane but not sordid use.”

Along with OLOL were five other churches throughout the Archdiocese, including Mt. Carmel in Eastie – which has been in vigil for seven years. Others were in Wellesley, Lowell, Quincy, and Scituate.

Oddly enough, the longest ongoing vigil – at St. Therese in Everett – was granted a reprieve from the decree. St. Therese in Everett was allowed to remain open as an Oratory of the larger St. Anthony (Everett) Parish. The intention, as stated in the release, is that St. Therese will be used only by the Brazilian Catholic community in Everett for worship services.

Of the six that he will not open, the future of those properties are still under review, but most believe that the intention is to sell them.

“For each Church, a specific means will be chosen for preserving their memory and the important place they have had in the lives, hearts and minds of our Catholic faithful,” read the release. “Whether through the relocating of stained glass windows, or religious statues or other sacred objects, the legacy of the closed Church will live on in other parishes of the Archdiocese. The final formal steps regarding these Churches will be decided over the coming weeks by the Cardinal. Prior to a possible sale and depending on the value of the property, the Archdiocesan Finance Council would also be consulted.”

Oddly enough, the release also indicated that the Cardinal only made the decision after allowing “every means of civil and canonical appeal regarding closed parishes to be pursued over the last six years.”

That is something that the OLOL crowd, and Verrengia, strongly disagrees with – as they have a very strong appeal that is currently in front of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatori.

“It’s very confusing why the Cardinal would do this right now,” said Verrengia. “Under Canon Law the property can’t be touched. It’s very odd that this whole thing about moving on and a time for healing just comes out of the blue during this time in the Canonical process, to desanctify a church now when decrees are coming out of Rome in favor of Parishioners. That’s going to promote healing? After seven years? I’m totally confused.”

Verrengia said this is only another “bump in the road,” and he urged others in the OLOL community to remain confident in awaiting official word from Rome on the issue.

  • Anonymous

    I’m starting to become bothered by this trend of parishioners continuing to stubbornly focus on and hold onto their protests and trying to fight the closing of parishes that the Church has long announced they had decided was eventually going to happen.  Not that I do not understand the way the parishioners feel–my childhood church eventually closed some years ago, and the connectedness to it did hurt…  But what concerns me is that at a certain point, it appears that the parishioners are making their feelings and themselves, and their own physical parishes, more important than their Catholic religion and the Catholic Church, ironically, in general in the bigger picture.  If one believes in one’s faith adamantly, one can keep it with oneself at all times, and celebrate it anywhere.  Parishioners’ stubbornness, and their own beloved but long-announced closing parishes, are “physical” passing things that shouldn’t become larger than their Catholic faith in the end.  The object to focus on should be their continuing to believe in and practice and be a good example of their faith everywhere, to everyone, moving on and regardless of where they express it.  It’s sad their parishes are slated by the Church to close, but a parish is a physical thing–their faith’s efforts, beliefs and practice should transcend that.

  • cybah

    Excellent post. I am too starting to be disturbed by how these folks are waiting to the bitter end. There’s little they can to do to stop it. Their faith has to do with God and the church, not some building. They should throw in the towel and be done with it. They lost, the Archdiocese has spoken, and its time to move on. They should now be focusing their energies into other things than saving a building that clearly cannot be saved as this point.

  • BeachmontRocker

    I want to buy the church! I’ll turn it into a small concert hall, call it “The Church”, serve liquor, play music, and keep the current trashy people from hanging around. This could be a great spot for live shows, close to beach, subway, parking and it would be a new beacon for Revere to shine in. Although this SOUNDS like a great idea, I know the powers that be would NEVER allow that!

    It’s time to do something with the building!

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