Volume 75, Number 43 | March 15 -21 2006


Maria Tornin at a June 2005 rally to save St. Brigid’s Church.

Maria Tornin, 61, dedicated St. Brigid’s parishioner

Maria Tornin, for years an active parishioner at St. Brigid’s Church, and more recently part of the group fighting to keep it from being shut down by the Catholic Archdiocese, died on March 2 at the age of 61. She had entered Cabrini hospital on E. 19th St. for bronchitis, which progressed into pneumonia.

A native of the Lower East Side, Tornin lived in Haven Plaza on Avenue C at 11th St. and was active in its tenants association. She was a parishioner at St. Brigid’s Church on Avenue B for more than 40 years, and became a member of the Save St. Brigid’s Committee after the archdiocese moved to dissolve the parish and close the historic Avenue B church, presumably paving the way for a new development on the site.

Tornin worked for 47 years at the Beth Israel hospital pediatric clinic and had accumulated 487 sick days.

Edwin Torres, a longtime St. Brigid’s parishioner, said Tornin played a vital role as the church’s youth group organizer and as the recruiter for altar servers. He added that when others would “disappear,” she was always willing to stay and lend a hand after church functions, doing dishes and cleaning up or putting away chairs.

“She was a simple person,” Torres said. “She didn’t often take credit for things she did. She was not looking for glory or praise. She did it and she didn’t care who knew about it.

“I often ask myself, who is going to handle all this and fill her shoes?” said Torres. “Her life touched many lives, and in many aspects. We’re going to miss her.”

Tornin’s funeral Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer on E. Third St. was attended by several hundred people. According to Torres, 20 former altar servers — both male and female — some of whom are in college now, attended.

After St. Brigid’s was closed as a functioning parish in August 2004, Tornin moved her youth group to Most Holy Redeemer.

City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who attended services at St. Brigid’s with Tornin, said she got to know her better as a member of the Save St. Brigid’s Committee. Mendez said Tornin insisted on speaking on the telephone to everyone on the committee the day before she died.

“She was very quiet at meetings [of the committee],” Mendez said. “But she would always speak her mind, though not at meetings. She was very active in her tenants association and at St. Brigid’s when it was a functioning and open parish. She was very active in trying to keep it open and keep it alive.”

Tornin is survived by her husband, Reynolds, her three grown sons — two of whom are police officers — and a daughter.

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