Moving in advance for use on Aug. 28-30, and thereafter
BOSTON -- In the months since the Boston Archdiocese announced the closing of 82 parishes, Catholics have found a variety of ways to fight to keep their churches open, relying on passion, imagination and determination.
At St. Anselm's in Sudbury, parishioners are trying to raise enough money to buy their church and start a new, independent parish.
Parishioners at St. Albert the Great in Weymouth have hired a law firm and may file a lawsuit against the archdiocese.
And at St. Jeremiah in Framingham, parishioners are trying to have the church designated as a historic site, even though it's only 46 years old.
Officials from the archdiocese have said repeatedly that the likelihood of reversing Archbishop Sean O'Malley's decision to close a particular church is remote. Despite the long odds, at least a dozen churches are fighting to change his mind.
Some have organized letter-writing campaigns, prayer vigils, petitions and rallies. More than 1,000 Catholics gathered earlier this month on Boston Common for a Mass of unity to protest the closings.
"There is extreme sadness and anger -- both those emotions are very rampant," said the Rev. Ron Coyne, pastor of St. Albert the Great. "The parishioners are just devastated by the fact that such a vibrant community can be dismantled."
The feeling is much the same at St. Susanna in Dedham, Sacred Heart in Lexington, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton, and at least eight other churches that are fighting the archdiocese's plan to close their parishes.
At St. Catherine of Siena, in the Charlestown section of Boston, parishioners are doing their own title search to see if there was a covenant in the history of the 115-year-old building that would limit its use to a Catholic church. Even though they know it's a long shot, they are still hopeful they can persuade O'Malley to keep their church open.
"People in this parish have a lot of faith," said Tom MacDonald, the church's pastoral administrator. "They're kind of hoping someone like the Holy Spirit will intercede here. There are daily rosaries and Masses for that purpose."
At St. Jeremiah, the battle is being waged on several fronts. Parishioners are writing impassioned letters to church leaders lauding the work of the community, separately demanding that the archdiocese return donations made during a special fund-raising campaign and seeking state historical status in an effort to keep the building open.
"KEEP US OPEN AND LET US CONTINUE THE WORK OF GOD!!!!" one parishioner wrote to O'Malley.
Though their church was built in 1958 -- a virtual infant in a region dotted with Colonial-era landmarks -- St. Jeremiah's parishioners believe they may be able to get a historic designation because its bells were donated in memory of Christa McAuliffe, a former parishioner who died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. Continued...