For Artifacts From Closed Churches, an Afterlife on Staten Island

There will soon be a rooftop swimming pool where the copper-domed bell towers of Mary Help of Christians once rose.

Formerly a hub of the East Village’s Italian-American community, the site of the Roman Catholic church is now slated for a 158-unit rental building, complete with basement gym and rooftop gardens ”” a familiar trajectory for a growing number of houses of worship as church attendance falls and real estate values soar.

In the rubble-strewn lot on Avenue A between 11th and 12th Streets where Mary Help of Christians and its school and rectory long stood, a rusty basketball hoop and strip of blacktop are all that is left. But perhaps unknown to those mourning the church’s passing, much of what was precious inside it ”” and other now-closed Catholic churches ”” sits in a Staten Island warehouse, awaiting a second chance.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Art, Economy, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

One comment on “For Artifacts From Closed Churches, an Afterlife on Staten Island

  1. Terry Tee says:

    I suppose that population shifts make church closures inevitable, but even so my heart sinks every time I hear of one. The practice in NY seems to be to demolish the church and sell the site. Here in London in the C of E churches have been sold and converted into blocks of flats; likewise the RC Benedictine Abbeys of Teignmouth (flats) and the original Stanbrook (wedding venue and conference centre). Which is worse, I wonder? The demolition of beautiful sacred art and architecture? Or seeing sacred space and art put to profane use? On balance I prefer demolition. Via the hyperlink in the article, though, look at the other article on St Vincent de Paul and view the slides of that beautiful church in NYC. Heart-breaking to think of it gone. The love that has gone into it over the decades! And such a lovely place. I am always a little surprised that ecclesiastical authorities cannot find a self-funding alternative for such places, something creative.