People of every age bundled up in warm winter fashion Feb. 11 for a special prayer vigil held on the sidewalk outside St. Mary Catholic Church in Jamesville. Lanterns placed in the snow brightened up the otherwise darkened church. The faithful held candles of their own.
Standing outside the main entrance of the now three years shuttered church, Colleen LaTray addressed the crowd. The Vatican Supreme Court would meet in Rome the next day to review St. Mary's appeal to reopen the church.
"We are not aware of any other parish that has had the opportunity to have their case heard by a panel of archbishops and cardinals at this level," LaTray said. "We are grateful for the opportunity and cautiously optimistic."
The purpose of the prayer service was to pray for all parties affiliated with the appeal, including St. Mary's parishioners, Vatican officials, local diocesan leaders and friends and family in support of its case. LaTray said she believed it would be several weeks before the former members of the congregation would learn the outcome of the meeting.
Former Bishop James Moynihan announced the closing of St. Mary Church in April 2007 as part of the reconfiguration process still taking place throughout the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Forty churches in seven counties were slated to be closed due to changing conditions in the Catholic climate, such as priest shortages and population shifts.
"I often wonder if Jesus were here and alive in the human flesh today, what he might think, say and do in response to St. Mary's circumstances," LaTray said. "[Jesus] was taken into great consideration when filing our appeal on May 1, 2007."
The appeal, she said, was filed for three reasons: To keep St. Mary open, to help others who might face similar situations, and to initiate appropriate and necessary change, all for the good of the Catholic Church.