Monday, September 29, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name: Yannic Rack's article about us in Downtown Express

Yannic Rack's article about Our Lady of Vilnius appears in The Villagers sister paper, Downtown Express, as "Parish Hopes for Salvation at Vilnius Church".  Thanks to Milda DeVoe for stepping up and offering her pithy, on-target commentary.  Please don't hesitate to join her.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Things Made New: Our Lady of Vilnius gets mention in NY Times piece on church-to-condo trend

James Barron's piece "A Difficult Passage from Church to Condo" focuses on the transformation of the former First Church of Christ, Scientist on Central Park into condominium.  In the process, he recaps other church-to-condo transactions, stating  "Last month, a developer filed plans to build an 18-story condominium building on the site of the former Our Lady of Vilnius Roman Catholic Church, on Broome Street near the Holland Tunnel. "   The article thereby groups us with "...congregations (that) struggle to afford the maintenance of buildings that were designed to hold far more congregants than now attend services, " but we were never one of those.  At the time of its closing, Our Lady of Vilnius was solvent with a positive bank balance.  The roof could have been repaired had the archdiocese given permission for the repair, as insurance monies were available and a donor had stepped forward to fund the shortfall.  

We are going to hear a lot about dwindling congregations and responsible stewardship as all things are made new.  Will they all be accurate?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, 9/24/2014, 4:56 PM: Another Fire at Our Lady of Vilnius, 570 Broome

According to Wikipedia, "Incorruptibility is a Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief that Divine intervention allows some human bodies (specifically saints and beati) to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death as a sign of their holiness."

Maybe the brick and mortar of Our Lady of Vilnius church is indestructible due to the collective holiness of its community of saints and sinners throughout the years.  I ran it by a friendly priest who laughed and said, "Well... that one would really make them grind their teeth."

It sounds near-psychotic, but miracles are irrational.  Continue to pray for divine intervention in the case of Our Lady of Vilnius.  Ask for the intercession of Blessed George (Jurgis) Matulaitis who said Mass there in 1926.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"State of the Parish" and "Increased Giving" in the Archdiocese of New York

Do Pastors Feel Sheepish?  Maybe they should.

Last week some devout Catholics of my acquaintance received a mailing; a roughly 6"x 8" cardstock inviting them to specific Masses at their parish of contribution in order to hear a "State of the Parish" address.  With "Making All Things New" hanging over the archdiocese like the sword of Damocles, this advance mailing created suspense, even among the not endangered.

I attended Mass last evening to kill this suspense.  The big reveal was the presentation of the Archdiocese of New York "Increased Giving" campaign.  Apparently the "tax" levied on parishes by the archdiocese is increasing, as are other expenses, so pastors have been directed to urge the dwindling faithful to contribute more in a systematic way, which leads me to a hail of bullet points:
  • Closed churches and schools have been sold for millions since 2007 including the soon-to-be demolished Our Lady of Vilnius.
  • Making All Things New will close 60-100 parishes, no doubt creating more real estate revenue.
  • Many church closures will be attributed to "dwindling attendance" and "structural instability" - things that could have been addressed the archdiocese before they became rationales for closures.
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral is undergoing a $200 million dollar renovation.
  • They are paying at least one consulting firm  for strategies and euphemisms.  Couldn't they conserve funds by assembling a brain trust of Roman Catholic volunteers in the "Capital of the World?"
They are scattering communities and breaking hearts.  Now they are asking for more from the least.   For the sake of the Church, get real with us, the laity. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Latest edition of "The Villager" chronicles the latest episode of the Our Lady of Vilnius saga

Just as The Villager began to chronicle our struggle in 2006 with "Lady of Vilnius and 'Pretzels ''Provolone' may lose home", so Yannic Rack has shared the story of our proposed demolition and transformation into condos in Thursday's piece, "No Last Minute Miracle for O.L. Vilnius Church? Tower plan is filed."

Thank you for paying attention to Our Lady of Vilnius, the Willy Loman of parishes.  And thank you very much for the question mark.

We continue to pray for that miracle.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Lady of Vilnius Demolition in Sight - Filing on DOB Jobs Overview page noted

Some elucidation from a friendly neighbor:

"The job type abbreviation stands for "APPLICATION PROCESSED - NO PLAN EXAM” which means there is an application but nothing has been processed yet. So before anything can be demolished, the applicant still needs to hand in all documentation. And technically, that doesn’t mean that a permit will be approved/issued at all.

So it seems like this is just additional paperwork that they’ve filed - nothing else than the previous application, except that it’s specifically the demolition."

We people of weakness
Are seeking your grace
O Mary, refuse not our prayer
From terror and tempest
From famine and battle
O rescue us, give us your strength.
-from hymn "Marija, Marija"

Hudson Square Connections Business Improvement District is creating open spaces. Oooh!

Most recent e-blast from Hudson Square Connection invites all  to celebrate the Grand Opening of Freeman Plaza East on 9/17 between 12 PM and 2 PM.  Entrance is on Broome and Varick.  This sounds like a good vantage point from which to snap a photo of Our Lady of Vilnius, if it is still standing.

Soon 570 Broome will be an open space, at least briefly, and not one to burble about.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade: Is Gay the final frontier of, ahem, tolerance?

How about parishioners left behind by suppressed parishes and churches sold and/or demolished?

Cardinal Dolan is taking some heat from conservative Catholics as he will be Grand Marshall of the first New York St. Patrick's Day Parade to include a gay group marching under its own banner.

Next year representatives of parishes suppressed or churches demolished since 2007 should apply to the committee to march under the banner of their extinguished communities.  We are still here in the Archdiocese of New York, we are still Roman Catholic and we are still orphaned by the loss of our parish families.  Yes, we have step-parishes, but we will be orphans for life.

Next year let's march under a banner reading "The Forgotten Remnant of Our Lady of Vilnius."