Members of the defunct St. Mary Church in Jamesville are no longer allowed in their beloved parish. Today, Bishop James Moynihan of the Syracuse Catholic Diocese put an end to their seven-month vigil that started when the church formally closed last June.
Moynihan, Holy Cross pastor Monsigner Robert Yeazel, another priest whose name was not disclosed and members of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department showed up to lock up.
Jamesville resident Ed Carroll was keeping vigil when they arrived.
"The only one I had any type of words with was Monsignor Yeazel," Carroll said. "We shook hands and I says, 'Monsignor, what are you doing this for?' and he says, 'The bishop wants it closed."
Witnesses said Moynihan remained in the car.
According to Yeazel, the bishop's office sent a letter in July to the group's lawyer stating that they were to vacate the building, which they did not do. Additionally, Moynihan recently learned that the Holy Eucharist has been brought into the church and prayer services were being held. According to Church Liturgical guidelines, "Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest," communion services cannot be held if the members are cared for by another church. The people of St. Mary Mission are cared for by Holy Cross Church in DeWitt.
"It is unfortunate it has to come to this point," Moynihan said in a press release dated Jan. 30. "We realize the closure of any church building may be synonymous to losing a family member. However, over 300 families have joined Holy Cross and have been welcomed into the parish community. I understand that a few individuals occupying the church had hoped the Vatican may intercede on their behalf and change a local decision. Historically, the Vatican does not intercede in a local Ordinary's decision unless there was fault in the process. In my conversation with the Papal Nuncio and his staff, I have kept them fully informed. It is my prayer that those who love the now closed St. Mary Mission will find strength and comfort in their neighboring parish communities."
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.