Easter concert raises money for St. Mary's
Members of the closed Saint Mary's Church in Jamesville came together Saturday to celebrate Easter with music. But it also became a chance for the group to continue their fight to reopen their doors. Our Candace Hopkins has more.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- As another holiday arrives, the parishioners of Saint Mary's are coming together in song, prayer and celebration, all in an effort to see their church reopened.
“We're a passionate group, we believe what we're doing is the right thing to do".
The Syracuse diocese closed Saint Mary's back in 2007 and since then the parish has been fighting to reverse that decision.
But that battle has been costly, so Saturday Opera Singer John Davies, and his family, put on a concert at nearby Jamesville Community Church, with donations going towards the church's mounting legal bills.
"We enjoy singing together and this was an opportunity to help St. Mary's".
Laura Davies said her family jumped at the chance to use their passion for music to help fight what they say was an unjustified closure of their church.
Davies, St. Mary's Concert Organizer said, “We believe that this church should have never been closed, it was a vibrant, financially solvent parish, in a growing section of Syracuse".
And while Saint Mary's remains locked, parishioners say they are struggling to hang on to their church community.
Debbie McGann, a St. Mary's parishioner said, “The church my family is attending now, it's not the same, I don't know any of the people, I don't live near any of the people, maybe I know five people, and it takes away some of that joy of going to church, and being a community".
Mark Donnelly, Save St. Mary's President said, “That good feeling that you get from worshipping with your fellow community members, and that was taken away from us, and all we really want is to have back what we had to begin with".
Church officials said their advocates in Rome continue to work with the Vatican in hopes of reopening St. Mary's doors, and meanwhile here in Central New York they continue to pray each and every day that the Syracuse diocese will somehow have a change of heart about the fate of their congregation.
In 2011 the Vatican issued two different decrees, saying Saint Mary's should "remain a sacred space and should not be transitioned for secular uses". Parishioners said those rulings are in their favor, meaning the church should be immediately reopened.
The Syracuse diocese disagrees, and said the church will remain closed, but that it could be made available in the future for special services like weddings or funerals.