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In a move that stunned parishioners, the Boston Archdiocese shut down a Quincy church this weekend, five years after it allowed it to remain open as a chapel.
Star of the Sea Church was one of dozens of parishes closed in a broad and fiercely protested consolidation that the archdiocese announced in 2004. But the next year, the archdiocese said the church could stay open as a chapel affiliated with a nearby church.
In a statement Monday, the archdiocese said it had agreed to let Star of the Sea operate as a chapel with weekly Mass until the appeals of its closure were exhausted. The archdiocese said that happened earlier this year when the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court, rejected appeals from 10 closed parishes, including Star of the Sea.
On Sunday, Auxiliary Bishop John Dooher told parishioners that the service would be the church's final Mass.
"You have much to be proud of here at Star of the Sea," he said, according to remarks released by the archdiocese Monday. "Your faithfulness to the Eucharist and to prayer is evident by your desire to celebrate Mass. The Cardinal and I appreciate your fidelity to your Catholic faith"
But parishioner Sean Glennon said the church's decision to keep the church open was not originally tied to its appeals, but came after a committee formed by the archdiocese to study the church closings recommended the move.
And he said his church still has appeals left, including one which claims the decision by the Vatican high court was not made by the full panel of court, but should have been.
Glennon said Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley might not have known about the appeal because Star of the Sea hadn't formally announced it.
"We are optimistic that the Mass will be reinstated next Sunday at noon just because of this miscommunication which we hope we can clear up within the next week," he said.
Glennon said none of the parishioners knew the closure was coming, and some people still may not know.
"People are just stunned ... because of the way it happened, being totally unannounced," he said. "There's no courtesy to being able to provide for the faithful."
The archdiocese announced the closings in 2004, citing falling attendance, a priest shortage and money problems. The number of parishes in the archdiocese has since been reduced from 357 to 291. Five parishes that protested the closings remain occupied in 24-hour vigil.
This program aired on September 7, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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