FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pope Francis inaugurates the Jubilee Year of Mercy today in Rome on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation for all Catholics. Certain churches throughout dioceses will be designated as "Doors of Mercy" as part of the jubilee. Our Lady of Peace, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, will not be one of them.
The church was shuttered on July 31, and except for a previously scheduled wedding on September 25, parishioners have only been able to congregate at the church steps. Every evening at 6:00 p.m., they have gathered for almost 5 months, praying a continuous rosary novena and keeping a candlelight vigil.
"Outside these locked doors, we support a community of faith," said Jessica Bede, former Eucharistic Minister, now rosary captain, and one of five women who take turns leading the continuous novena. "We have maintained a prayerful resistance for the past 126 days. We have continued to help the community, collecting 250 pounds of food for City Harvest and toiletries for hospitalized and homeless Veterans. Give us a place to worship, and we let our faith guide the corporal works of mercy."
Recently, the rosary group petitioned Cardinal Dolan and Msgr. Douglas Mathers to open the doors for a special occasion on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception., in honor of their patron, the Blessed Mother. Download Letter from Rosary Group-October 22 Although their initial petition was turned down, 27 parishioners signed a request for reconsideration to open the church. In his initial letter, Cardinal Dolan stated that the decision was at the discretion of the pastor of the merged parish Saint John the Evangelist-Our Lady of Peace, Msgr. Douglas Mathers. View photo of response from Cardinal Dolan. Download Our Lady of Peace Rosary-ReconsiderationRequest - Nov. 18
Msgr. Mathers rejected the request for reconsideration, citing arbitrary criteria from a transition manual developed by The Reid Group, the corporate consultants who engineered the downsizing of the archdiocese:
"You should know that the decision to decline the request was based on an official interpretation by the Office of Parish Planning for the Archdiocese of New York. According to the interpretation, the term 'special occasion', as stated in the Parish Transition Manual, means the feast day of the former parish. Inasmuch as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is not the feast day of the former parish of Our Lady of Peace, the decision to decline the request cannot be changed." Download Letter from Mathers 12-1-2015
Despite the rejection letter, the rosary group will lead a Solemn Rosary Procession and Advent Pilgrimage starting at 5:45 p.m. from the steps of Our Lady of Peace on East 62nd Street to the church of St. Jean Baptiste on Lexington Avenue for a 7:00 p.m. Celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. * The Charismatic Prayer Group of Our Lady of Peace has relocated there.
"We are a church on the street," said Tami Ellen McLaughlin, one of the rosary leaders and special events coordinator. "We say prayers outside in the cold. We keep brightly lit candles on the steps, and we hope that sometime soon, during the Jubilee of Mercy, the church doors will be reopened."
There is hope, according to Janice Dooner Lynch, contact person for the parishioners' Vatican appeal. "Although it saddens me that the archdiocese could not show us compassion by allowing us to celebrate this holy day in honor of our patron, the Blessed Mother," she said, "we received notice from the Congregation for Clergy that their study of our recourse against the church merger has been extended to February 15, 2016. This is the third extension the Vatican has given us, and we have reason to believe they are taking very seriously the documentation that we provided." Download OLP-Cardinal Stella Extn Ltr 11-12-15
For more information, please contact:
JANICE DOONER LYNCH, mobile 1-646-244-9670
JESSICA BEDE, mobile 1-917-754-2100
TAMI ELLEN MCLAUGHLIN, mobile 1-646-942-0234
*The Procession Route:
1. Proceed toward 2nd Avenue and turn left,
2. Walk in a northerly direction to 67th Street, cross the street, and turn left.
3. Proceed west on 67th Street to 3rd Avenue. Turn right.
4. Walk in a northerly direction to 75th Street, cross the street.
5. Proceed west on 75th Street to Lexington Avenue.
6. Stop at the entrance to St. Jean Baptiste, 1067 Lexington Avenue.