West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 9 | August 01 - 07, 2007

Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

Carmen Pabon, who attended St. Brigid’s for 55 years, stood in front of a photo montage of people and events at the church at last Friday’s rally.

St. Brigid’s faithful thankful church still standing

By Albert Amateau

It was 7:30 a.m. last Friday when the really hard core of the Committee to Save St. Brigid gathered on Avenue B to commemorate the hour and day last year when a wrecking crew from the Catholic Archdiocese punched a hole in the shuttered church’s east wall and started to demolish the historic building.

“It’s still standing. It’s now 159 — a year older than it was last year,” declared Edwin Torres, chairman of the committee.

The committee’s lawsuit seeking to stop the archdiocese from demolishing the church has been in and out of court for two years and was last argued June 8 in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. The issue has not yet been decided.

Actor Matt Dillon, who joined the Committee to Save St. Brigid last year, and Mary Gleason, a lawyer who also joined the committee recently, made a joint plea in person at the archdiocese on July 19, Torres said.

“They had a very productive conversation with David Brown, head of real estate for the archdiocese. It’s the opening of a line of communication with the archdiocese and we’re very grateful to Cardinal Egan for it,” Torres said.

Villager photo by Lorcan Otway

Broken painted-glass windows in St. Brigid’s Church last year, shortly after they were smashed on the Catholic Archdiocese’s orders.

City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and aides to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressmember Nydia Velazquez were also on hand at the early morning rally.

The church, built by Irish boatwrights who worked on the East River, was declared unsafe and closed in 2001. Although the archdiocese dissolved the parish in September 2004, the building is still a neighborhood shrine.

“I’ve been in the neighborhood 55 years — I brought all my children here to be baptized and for their first communion,” said Carmen Pabon, who was 85 in June but says she considers herself to be 19. She has eight children, 15 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“This parish was home to all those altarboys and girls — they’re scattered everywhere like seeds. I still come to pray for them in front of the church every morning,” she said.

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