It's been six months since St. Mary Church in Jamesville closed. Locks changed on June 29 -- the day before its last Mass -- but that hasn't kept the parishioners out. St. Mary devotees are still keeping vigil until they hear back about an appeal they submitted to the Vatican this summer.
Bishop James Moynihan announced the parish closing last April as part of the reconfiguration process currently taking place throughout the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. More than 40 churches are aligned to close within the seven-county spread due to changing conditions, such as priest shortages and population shifts within the Catholic denomination.
A group of people against the bishop's unyielding position to close St. Mary formed an appeal to the Vatican. They were told the process could take about 90 days, said Margaret DiCosimo, Jamesville resident and St. Mary member. They are still waiting for a response.
Monsignor Robert Yeazel, pastor of Holy Cross Church in DeWitt, also said no response has been given, but he expects an answer soon. St. Mary became an outreach, or mission, of Holy Cross Church in October 2006. Becoming a mission means a parish is no longer recognized as independent. Instead, it becomes a community under the administration of another parish.
In the meantime
Placed up front inside the main entrance of St. Mary is a sign-up sheet for volunteers to donate their time, keeping a 24/7 vigil going strong. The shifts can be as short as one hour or as long as an overnight stay. About 100 people take turns, DiCosimo said.
"At the beginning, we thought, 'Well, certainly the bishop is going to rethink this, and it's going to be over in a month,'" she said, but that didn't happen. "Then we thought okay, we just need to pray."
DiCosimo's is one of the founding families of the vigil. Her daughter Ciarria (pronounced Carrie) was the first to stay overnight.