It is a move that dedicated vigil holders – who have manned the church day and night for seven years through an informal network – plan to resist.
In a surprising and unexpected move last Thursday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley announced that he had made a decision on the eight parishes that are in flux within the Archdiocese.
St. Therese Church in Everett and seven other churches protested the closing of their parishes in 2004 when numerous parishes were closed. Many of those parishes protested the closing, and filed appeals in Rome. Many of those appeals are still ongoing in Rome, including an appeal for Our Lady of Lourdes Church in neighboring Revere.
St. Therese never filed an appeal, but dedicated parishioners – mostly elderly – stayed on vigil in the church for years.
A sign outside counts down the days, which numbers in the thousands.
Dedicated parishioners occupied the property even when the Archdiocese cut off the heat in the dead of winter.
They conducted meetings, and they united as a “rogue” church community.
Now, the Parish church they protected and kept from being eliminated is going strictly for use by Brazilian Catholics worshipping in the Portuguese language.
That decision came within the release, which appeared suddenly at noon on Thursday.
“The Cardinal has designated St. Therese in Everett as an Oratory of St. Anthony Parish in Everett,” read the release. “An ‘Oratory’ is a sacred place that the bishop has designated for use by a particular group of the faithful for divine worship. Whereas in canon law a ‘Church’ is open to all members of the faithful, an Oratory is used by the members of the group for which it is established. An ethnically diverse parish, St. Anthony Parish includes English, Italian, Spanish and Brazilian communities. The intention is that St. Therese Oratory will be used for worship by the Brazilian Catholic community.”
Published reports from those in vigil at St. Therese indicated that they are offended by the decision and do not plan to give up the vigil any time soon.
One other church of the eight, in Framingham, was also allowed to remain open as a special worship center.
Meanwhile, six other churches that are currently in vigil or on appeal in Rome were desanctified on Monday by the Cardinal. The Archdiocese indicated that those churches would most likely be appraised and then sold to interested parties – with all monies from any sales being routed to support Parishes within the Archdiocese.
Those parishes on appeal said they didn’t give last Thursday’s announcement much credence and they will continue their fights in Rome, and they are encouraged by several recent decisions that have re-opened closed churches in America.
“This is just another bump in the road,” said John Verrengia of Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere. “We’re still moving forward with our appeal and according to Canon Law the property cannot be touched until everything is resolved.”