Tuesday, April 06, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila Parish: The Cradle of Our Lady of Vilnius

According to a history of Our Lady of Vilnius prepared on the occasion of its 90th anniversary, the parish was founded by Father Šestokas in 1905. The congregation gathered at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Chinatown until our church building was completed in 1910. Andrew the Sinner, of the Catholic Churches of Manhattan blog visited the church of St. Teresa on Good Friday and documented his impressions. An interesting sidelight:
"Further up towards the ceiling I noticed the beautiful wood beams and pillars that hold this church up - renovated back in 1995 because the ceiling collapsed, dropping 60,000 pounds of plaster down, through the floor of the church, crashing into the parish hall below."
It is interesting that, as recently as 1995, a failed roof was not the harbinger of imminent closure. God bless the church of St. Teresa of Avila, birthplace of our parish!

1 comment:

Ellen Halloran said...

The ceiling of St. Teresa's collapsed in 1995 and dropped 60,000 pounds of plaster:the impact of the falling plaster caused the floor of the church to collapse as it broke through to the basement. For months afterwards the congregation worshipped at a local synagogue. Parishioners were eventually able to raise enough money to repair the floor of the church so that they could then gather for liturgy in the basement. (See where this is going? I wonder if they had a disco ball.) At the time many argued that the parish should be closed as there was no money to repair the main sanctuary. It was eventually reopened in 2002 after the sale of some church property and the prayers, faith and determined efforts of its parishioners.
The damage to the roof of Our Lady of Vilnius Church was of a far less serious nature and the insurance money to make repairs had been paid.
The only realistic explanation for the closing of our church is the income that could be reaped by the archdiocese in the sale of this property.