Monday, May 25, 2015

For Memorial Day, T.M. Luhrmann on the spiritual power of place: Read it and think


Today's New York Times gives us an op ed piece by T.M. Luhrman titled "How Places Let Us Feel the Past"

As someone who has felt the mystical power of Our Lady of Vilnius, I continue to ponder its attraction:  its source, its nature, its reality.  T.M. Luhrman, through scholarship and contemplation has been able to illuminate and articulate these ponderings for me.  Salient quotes below:

"WHAT gives certain places their extraordinary power to move people so deeply?"

"Locations have always been central to human thought and feeling. Anthropologists have found that in traditional societies, memory becomes attached to places."

"They give an external presence to something that can only be imagined. They make that which has been imagined real, different and, at times, overwhelming. This is also true for places made holy in the imagination."

"It is easy in our individualistic culture to think of memories as private and selves as interior. That is an illusion. Our memories and dreams dwell incarnate in the world. Sometimes, they are too much to bear."

Attention materialists at 1011 First Avenue, especially those of you who have been ordained:  Please read this article, think and pray.   How can you sacrifice the sites that are the collected souls of your people made manifest?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Holy Spirit in Action: Memorial Day Celebrated in Hastings-on-Hudson on Pentecost


After the 12 everyone sped off to don uniforms, add finishing touches to floats and get into formation for the annual Memorial Day Parade.  Our pastor, also the VFW chaplain,  offered the invocation and the benediction.  Our friends and neighbors dressed in other clothes passed in review transformed as members of the Volunteer Fire Department, the Southside Club, the VFW, the American Legion and the Mother's Club.  Neighborhood kids became Poppy Girls, Boy and Girl Scouts, Little Leaguers and majorettes.  Policemen became pipers and part-time musicians of all trades put on their coats of many colors to provide the beat and melody for this march of local humanity in all of its goofy beauty.

It was encouraging to see the indomitable power of the Holy Spirit on the streets of Hastings-on-Hudson on Pentecost.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Another parishioner disagrees with closing, another challenge to The Euphemism

In her letter to the editor of RecordOnline captioned "Shame on Cardinal Dolan for closing St. Mary's," Mary Sklarz of Newburgh clearly states her disagreement with the archdiocese over the closing of her parish.

She, too, lays into The Euphemism stating,

"Shame on Cardinal Dolan and his slogan "Making All Things New," a marketing term the Archdiocese is employing for this round of church closings. What he is really doing is destroying things he does not want to understand or fairly evaluate. The targeting of St. Mary's was done unfairly and without consideration of the impact on the poor neighborhoods it serves."
I part with Mary where she states, "Unlike NYC, every church is vital to the city."  Mary, in NYC and surrounding suburbs, in 2007 and now, much of the targeting of churches for closure was done unfairly and without consideration of the people they served, the same people who serve the archdiocese and comprise the Mystical Body of Christ.

St. Mary's was in the crosshairs of Cardinal Egan's realignment, mounted an excellent campaign to preserve itself and was spared.  I have always been with this parish in spirit and agree with Mary that it is a terrible and senseless loss for the people of Newburgh.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

White Plains Man Airs view of "Making All Things New"

The White Plains Daily Voice published Giovanni Mastracchio's opinion and analysis of how "MATN" played out in his neighborhood as a letter to the editor titled "Cardinal Dolan Makes No Sense Whatsoever' On Merging Churches."

While he is at it he, too, assails The Euphemism: "This is not "making all things new," this is trying to resuscitate a dying parish by sucking all the blood out of a healthy one, while allowing an ailing one to continue to suffer without any first aid."

His alternative, while descriptive, is still a mouthful and does not make a clever acronym.  Please suggest another name!  Church mergers have been announced and closures will follow, so I need to refer to this "process" by something short and sweet.

CLICK HERE to make your suggestion.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I need a better, shorter name for "Making All Things New." Please help.

The final decisions have been announced for the Archdiocese of New York's pastoral planning initiative, "Making All Things New."   Even as the suspense is over and the matter is receding from the limelight, I am not done.  I never bought into this "thematic" and do not want to honor it by using it's store-bought name.

Please help me find something more concise, shorter, snappier or at least something with a better acronym.

CLICK HERE to submit your suggestion.

Thanks for your help.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

32 Dominick Street: What does its future hold? Is the neglect benign?

This is a picture of 32 Dominick taken from the Landmark Preservation Commission designation report of 3/27/2012:

Here is a photo taken of the door on Sunday, May 10, 2015:


While I have rarely seen this building without a scaffold in front of it, I have never seen it in such bad condition. The well under the front window was filled with debris, the facade is defaced with cartoons on plastic film.  The doorknobs have been removed, the portal is secured with a chain threaded through 2 drilled holes and a piece of wood.

On Sunday the building looked sadly more derelict than at any other time in its 3 and 1/2 years vacant. I sure hope that the neglect is benign.

Yimby Post Author Confirms No Demo Permit Filed for Rectory (32 Dominick)

Rebecca Baird-Remba, who posted the item about the development of 111 Varick etc. on Yimby acknowledged in a comment that demolition permits have not been filed for 32 Dominick, citing the statement as a mistake and now the post displays a strikeout through that address.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Our Lady of Vilnius Rectory for Demolition: Error or Premature Revelation?


According to Yimby, OLV's neighbor, the parking garage at 111 Varick, is to be replaced by a 15 story condo building.

The item, posted on Yimby with the title "Permits Filed: 15-Story Apartment Building At 111 Varick Street, Hudson Square" goes on to say
"While the site hasn’t changed hands since 1979, development rights for this lot and three neighboring ones on Broome and Dominick Streets sold for $3,500,000 in March. Demolition permits have been filed for those other three buildings—568 and 572 Broome and 32 Dominick Street—indicating that the development will occupy all four properties."
Despite this assertion, I have not seen any filings on the DOB "Filings" page for 32 Dominick. Though when I paid a visit to the rectory yesterday, it did not look like the future home of a lover of Federal architecture.


What do they have to do to demolish this landmarked building that has been extolled for its authenticity?

Mother's Day 2015 at Our Lady of Vilnius Church


This is what we saw when we turned the corner from Varick onto Broome.

And this is what we saw from the far side of Broome Street looking head on.


Here's a better look at the particulars of demolition.

We took a peek through each of the little diamond shaped plexiglass windows and this is what we saw:


The door that we used to go downstairs to the church hall..


And what is left of the steps on which we used to gather.

So we set up our little shrine of remembrance and hope:

Having done this we each voiced the intentions of our prayers:

  • The souls of all, living and dead, whose lives had been touched by this church, especially the souls of those who passed during our struggle: Frankie Pretzels, Dalia Bulgaris, Danute Strout, Jurgis Aleliunas, Julia Martinho and Joe Zaccaria.  We prayed for former Trustees Joy McAleer.  We prayed for those who had suffered from ill health.  We prayed for our most recent pastor, Father Eugene,  and all the priests that came before him. 
  • We voiced our hope that the Holy Spirit would again concoct a parish in which the Mystery was so clearly present and where we all felt at home.  And we promised to help.
We prayed the Rosary in front of our little shrine, blubbering through most of the first Hail Marys of the first decade.  We began to cheer up around the second Glorious Mystery, the Ascension and practically high fived at the third, The Descent of the Holy Spirit.

You've given us enough to live on anywhere we go.