dotCommonweal reports that Cardinal Egan called a priest to his office; while he was there, the Cardinal sent security guards to change the locks on the church of which he was administrator.
New York Post tells the story:
“This church has been here for 102 years. We’re supposed to have a 12:15 p.m. Mass today and people were turned away crying,” said the church’s secretary, who gave only her first name, Joy.
“I find this unconscionable.”
Egan’s sneak attack came just days after The Post revealed that Lithuania’s president had written a letter asking that he reverse a plan to close Our Lady of Vilnius on Broome Street, originally founded to serve natives of his country.
It also comes on the heels of his abrupt closure of an East Harlem church after parishioners there staged a one-day sit-in that ended in six arrests, and after two similar trespassing arrests at a Yonkers church that was being closed.
“It seems to be a vindictive act,” said Ramute Zukas, president of the local chapter of the Lithuanian-American Community Inc., who has coordinated efforts to keep Our Lady of Vilnius open.
Egan’s spokesman last week had said that although the small church was slated to close – because of dwindling attendance, a crumbling roof and the fact that Mass no longer was being offered in Lithuanian – no closing date had been set.
But yesterday, Egan summoned the Rev. Eugene Sawicki to his Madison Avenue office at 9 a.m., and told him “the closure is effective immediately,” said archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
Even as that meeting with the pastor was occurring, three security guards were changing the locks on the parish doors and preventing anyone from entering.
Basic facts confirmed by Archdiocese of New York press release.
The parish of Our Lady of Vilnius was closed today. Father Eugene Sawicki, Administrator of the parish, was informed at a meeting that the closure is effective immediately. …
Appropriate steps have been taken to secure and safeguard the church and other parish buildings.