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An Era Ends: Final Sunday Mass Celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church

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St. Joseph's Church, 5 Monroe St. May 2015.
St. Joseph’s Church, 5 Monroe St. May 2015.

After nearly a century on the Lower East Side, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Monroe Street is set to close next week. it’s part of a massive restructuring ordered by the New York archdiocese. The Daily News reported from the final Sunday Mass held yesterday:

For decades, a large painting of Jesus Christ with His right arm up in the air seemed to greet parishioners at the Lower East Side’s St. Joseph’s Church. On Sunday, it appeared to wave a final goodbye to those like Jimmy Lizzio, 99, who had been coming to the church on Monroe St. since he was 10… “I’m the oldest parishioner alive,” said Lizzio, who uses a cane. “How do I feel? Sad. Very sad. I’ve been coming here all my life, every Sunday. I don’t know where I’ll be going now… I can’t walk far,” he added. “This may be the last time I go to church.”

Pastor Lino Gonsalves encouraged parishioners to switch to the Church of the Transfiguration on Mott Street or St. Teresa’s on Henry Street.

In a decree issued last November, Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced that the St. Joseph/St. James Parish, located in buildings at 5 Monroe St. and 32 James St. was to cease holding masses and offering other services by Aug. 1. While the buildings remain open for special events, all regular services would take place at Transfiguration.

Parishioners unsuccessfully appealed the decision to merge the parishes earlier this year. A leader of that effort, Victor Papa, tells us it was rejected on technical grounds. A new effort is underway, however, to keep the buildings open indefinitely. We’ll have more about that in the next day or too.

Meanwhile, another neighborhood parish is also closing, the Church of the Nativity on 2nd Avenue. Channel 11 reported:

From the outside it may not seem like much but The Church of the Nativity on 2nd Ave dates back to to 1842. Generations of families have attended Catholic services here. But now, parishioners are being forced to say good-bye. The church is scheduled to close August 1st and merge with another. Even after several appeals by church goers, which have been denied by the archdiocese. Despite financial stability, and a growing number of members, parishioners fear the building is being sold to developers.

More background from EV Grieve, who notes that the final mass at nativity will take place this coming Friday.

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