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Here is a letter from the Diocese in response to my letter concerning the future of Our Lady of Loreto.
August 28, 2008
Dear Mr. Mondelli:
On behalf of Biship DiMarzio, I wish to thank you for your recent letter in which you state your objection to the closing and possible demolition of Our Lady of Loreto Church. As the chair of the Committee that oversees the ongoing merger process of the parishes in our Diocese, the Bishop asked that I respond to your concerns directly.
The changing demographics of our city, the diminishing number of priests and the growing financial constraints faced by the Diocese are propelling the need to merger the parishes of our Diocese. Our Lady of Loreto is one of over 46 parishes that are included in this merger process.
The need to reconfigure the Parish of Our Lady of Loreto is indisputable. The regular Sunday congregation at the parish numbers less than 50 people, the annual collection is less than $25,000 while the annual diocesan subsidy to maintain the parish is over $100,000. Further, the number of priests available to serve our Catholic population continues to diminish, necessitating the need to station them where they can serve the larges pastoral need. Given the fact that Our Lady of Presentation, located only a short distance away, has a pastor who is willing to serve the current parishioners of Our Lady of Loreto, the closure of the Church at Our Lady of Loreto does not abandon its remaining parishioners. Rather, they will become part of the new parish family of Our Lady of the Presentation-Our Lady of Loreto.
Regarding the future of the Church building, I stated clearly to the reconfiguration committee assisting in the parish merger, that the Diocese has the obligation to explore every option for the redevelopment of the property at Our Lady of Loreto. At that time, I stated that the future use of the land would be dedicated to assist in the pastoral mission of the Church and that each option needed to be explored fully so that the Bishop can make an informed choice. Among the options could be the demolition of the church building, if the proposed project demanded it. Whatever financial benefit that would come from such development would flow directly to the new merged parish.
In the past two months, the Progress of People Development Corporation, affiliated with Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, has filed an application to create 88 units of housing for low income and poor persons located in eleven four-story buildings. In order to ensure the financial viability of this project, all the land that is currently occupied by the school (already demolished last year), the convent and the Church must be included. As a result, if this project moves forward, the church building will have to be removed so that those who still live in the area can be given a chance to live in decent housing.
I fully understand the various emotions that you and other former parishioners who once lived in the parish and now live elsewhere may feel. However, I hope that you can appreciate the difficult decisions that the Bishop must make to ensure that the overall mission of the Diocese, in these challenging times, can continue.
Please be assured of my continued prayers for you and your family.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Revered Frank J. Caggiano
I find it interesting that of all the persons who have written to the diocese, only your letter was taken seriously and got a detailed response. My answer from the diocese was "pro forma", in other words, a form letter.
What arrogance! What the guy said in his letter is no more than we learned last October at the meeting with the other Bishop (their finance guy). There's never been a home to us Italians at Presentation...now they expect us to "forgive and forget". Well, forget them!
What really burns me is that our families donated the land, raised the funds and physically built that Church. Our shame is in giving our legacy away to the Diocese, assuming they would help us take care of it. Instead they have humiliated us at every turn.
I say we proceed as we must with or without their holinesses...
The reason I got an answer to my letter is because I gave them Hard Facts and not feelings.
Most people who wrote to Bishop DiMarzio told him about how their families attended the church for many years and also attended the school.
It was obvious that the Bishop couldn't care less about who attended the school or the church.
So it was time to challenge him head on with some hard facts.
After making numerous phone calls to many different agencies of The City of New York, I discovered that the The City of New York is currently undertaking a huge upgrade for the surrounding area.
Here are just a few examples.
Atlantic Ave. from Eastern Parkway to Sharlock Place has a new housing development.
That odd shaped building that stood at the intersection where East New York Ave. & Bergen St. and Stone Ave. merge is now the site of new co-op apartments.
The old factories on Junius St. between Liberty Ave. & Glenmore Ave. is now a new apartment complex.
The factories across the street from the church on Pacific St. was purchased by a Baptist church. They demolished the old factories for a new large Baptist Church with a large parking lot to accommodate their parishioners.
There are also plans for a new apartment building at the corner of Atlantic Ave and Eastern Parkway.
The old factories on Junius St. and East New York Ave. is now a home for unwed mothers.
There are also plans to build a new apartment complex at East New York Ave. and Junius St. where Lutheran Hospital once stood.
I also sent him a copy of the proposal made by the Progress of People Development Corporation which has plans to demolish the church and erect an 88 unit housing complex for low income people.
With all the new upgrades for the surrounding area, people will need a church where they can attend mass.
When hit with these Hard Facts, Bishop DiMarzio had no alternative but to respond to my demands for an honest answer as to the future of Our Lady of Loreto.
Thanks for your response.
Wow! Good work and great research...no wonder you got the more direct response...
How sad and typical that it always comes down to money. Donny, thank you and God bless you for everything you do for Our Lady of Loreto. It breaks my heart to think they could even consider destroying our church.