We never expected our pleas could save the old parish church, but now comes Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noodnik – sorry, Noonan – to the rescue.
From this weekend’s Journal:
Cardinal, Please Spare This Church
The Archdiocese of New York is threatening to close down my little church, a jewel in Catholicism’s crown on 89th Street just off Madison, in Carnegie Hill, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This has caused great pain in our neighborhood this Christmas. St. Thomas More Church is where my son made his first holy communion, where he was confirmed. It is where at the presentation of the cross, on Good Friday, everyone in the parish who wants to—and that is everyone in the parish, poor people, crazy people, people just holding on, housekeepers, shopkeepers, billionaires—stands on line together, as equals, as brothers and sisters, to kiss the foot of the cross. It always makes me cry.
None of this is important except multiply it by 5,000, 10,000, a million people who’ve walked through our doors the past 75 years to marry, to bury, to worship.
That’s what we said.
To be sure, Noonan does the to be sure thing: Churches are closing everywhere, the Catholic Church is always in need of money, there are all those settlements and legal fees associated with the clerical abuse scandals, the church must save where it can, and etc.
But . . .
[T]he great mystery at the heart of the threatened closing of St. Thomas is that none of these criteria apply to it. Not one.
St. Thomas More Church is not empty, it is vital, vibrant and alive. The other day at a special Mass, the standing room only crowd spilled out onto the steps. People move into—and stay in—Carnegie Hill just for the church. Almost half the people at Sunday mass take long car and subway rides to worship there. (All this is from a list of facts about the church put together by its desperate parishioners.)
St. Thomas More not only supports itself financially, it gives money back to the archdiocese. It’s not structurally unsound, it has just completed a major and costly refurbishment. It hasn’t lost its school, it has a full, lively, respected preschool in the basement that families are desperate to get into.
Bottom line: “The cardinal could sell his grand private mansion in Midtown, just down the street from what has been assessed the most valuable piece of real estate in the city, Saks Fifth Avenue, judged to be worth almost $4 billion. Think of what the cardinal’s mansion would sell or rent for! That would take care of everything. This is what Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley did: sell the cardinal’s estate. He lives now in a small apartment in a modest part of town.”
Uh-huh. We should all live so long, Ms. Noodnik.