Posts Tagged ‘religion’
Debora Fougere writes for Al Jazeera America in describing the conflict in New York City in the Roman Catholic Church, as parishoners–often of immigrant background and belonging to tight-knit communities–are trying to keep their parishes intact.
On a warm and sultry summer night, a couple dozen worshippers gathered recently at the Church of the Nativity in New York City’s East Village for a mass celebrating the life of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement dedicated to helping the poor.
The church, housed in a simple, cinder block and brick building, has none of the usual gleaming gold and majesty one would often expect from a Catholic house of worship.
But the celebration was bittersweet. On Aug. 1, Nativity will be “merged” with another parish, Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, effectively shutting it down for good, leaving the immigrants, working families, young professionals, poor and homeless who pray there without their spiritual home.
Mildred Guy has lived in the neighborhood for 45 years, and worshipped at Nativity for 35. Her son was an altar server there, and graduated from the now closed Nativity Mission School. She lost her home in March when a deadly gas explosion levelled four East Village buildings, and now she’s losing her church. “It’s not the prettiest church. But it’s very comforting, it’s very homely”, she said. “When you come here you feel like you’re in a second home, at least for me. So to lose this church, it’s a big hurt.”
The church has built a reputation for embracing everyone. Claudia Marte, one of the parishioners fighting to keep the parish open, said the neighborhood needs Nativity. “We have a very diverse community,” she said. “We have a lot of homeless in the community, and we get together after mass sometimes and we invite them to join us. Some of them actually sleep in front of the church and we have become friends with some of them and we ask them to join us. They’re part of our community.”
Nor is Nativity alone. A reorganization plan dubbed “Making All Things New” is being rolled out that will merge 112 parishes in the Archdiocese of New York, the second largest in the country, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island in New York City, as well as seven upstate counties. Around 55 of those churches will effectively close.