Parishioners of St. Colman Church on West 65th began receiving personalized letters Friday from Bishop Richard Lennon, which informs them that his decision to close the church remains the same.
Rita Gaertner, who helped lead the effort to keep St. Colman open after its closing was announced on March 14, tells Channel 3 News, "I'm sorry to hear that we are the first to be turned down."
St. Colman parishioners lobbied hard to have the Bishop reverse his decision, citing the many social outreach programs the parish provides to the west side neighborhood.
Parishioners said the programs could not be duplicated by other churches, including St. Stephen where St. Colman parishioners would be expected to attend after St. Colman closes by next summer.
"I truly think we have to put our heads together now," Gaertner said. "There have been group meetings where people have been coming up with good ideas."
Members of St. Colman mailed as many as 3,000 letters to Bishop Lennon, petitioning that their church remain open and not be merged into St. Stephen.
Churches which lose their appeal to the Bishop can further appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican. They have 15 days to file such an appeal.