Vigil at Holyoke Mater Dolorosa Church to end
HOLYOKE -- The nearly year-long vigil at Holyoke’s Mater Dolorosa Church will be ending, according to organizers of the occupation.
In comments to the news media outside the Maple Street Church midday today, June 10, the group which has been inside the building around the clock since the morning of June 30, 2011 stated they would abide by the recent directives issued by the Vatican which directed them to end their occupation.
The directive, which upheld the merger of Mater Dolorosa and Holy Cross parishes, also instructed the diocese not to demolish or sell the Mater Dolorosa church while that part of the appeal continues. But the directive also instructed the bishop to take all necessary steps to address the safety of the building. Officials pointed out this was consistent with all their past actions.
Since the Vatican directive was first announced a week ago, organizers of the vigil have been meeting to discuss their options.
Apparently the group decided to end their occupation without diocesan assurances regarding the disposition of the steeple, assuming that any such repair, removal or demolition will require city approval and that they will have the opportunity to object.
Diocesan officials have indicated that once the vigil ends and no one is inside the church a review will take place in order to come up with a work plan to address safety issues involving the steeple.
Upon hearing the news, Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell released the following statement.
"It was gratifying to see the good will of the occupants of Mater Dolorosa Church in following the Vatican directive to leave the building. The Diocese of Springfield will continue to act in compliance with Church law and these same recent directives.”
He went on to state, “in a special way on this day in which we celebrate the Feast of the Body & Blood of Christ and the gift of the Eucharist, I would hope that we might all unite at the Table of the Lord, setting aside our differences in our greater love for our God, and God's Holy Church."
The appeal on the eventual status of the church building may take months to decide before the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, the church’s version of the Supreme Court. They will determine if the Congregation for Clergy acted properly last September, when it upheld the Bishop’s decisions regarding both the parish and church statuses.