Since the New York Archdiocese announced its restructuring plan to close or merge dozens of churches, Catholics across the City have been praying for a miracle -- hoping their church would be saved. Sadly for one Rosebank church, mass was held for one last time on Friday. NY1's Leisha Matjan filed this report.
Phyllis Nemeth is having a hard time saying goodbye to a church that's been part of her family since before the Civil War.
“I went to school here, you're going back generations -- when you're talk about going back generations, my grandmother went to school here. We have pictures of her graduating from here,” said Phyllis Nemeth, a long-time member of St. Mary’s Church.
St. Mary's Catholic Church on Bay Street in Rosebank is one of three churches on the Island shutting its doors for good.
Another four churches will merge with other parishes.
Friday marked the last mass for parishioners here at St. Mary's, which has been around for more than 160 years.
The New York Archdiocese announced last year it would be closing or merging a total of 74 churches as part of its "Making All Things New" initiative.
But many parishioners say they'd rather keep with the "old."
“We are grieving so badly. We just start weeping when we think of it because it just means so much to us,” said parishioner Dolores Harden.
“It's just...just, sad. It's not a happy day under this roof,” added Peter Light, another parishioner.
Officials with the Archdiocese say the closings were unavoidable.
They determined which churches would close based on attendance and because of a shortage of priests.
“The church should not be about keeping as many structures open, the church should be about serving the people, bringing the people together and meeting their pastoral needs,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson of the Archdiocese of New York.
And while the Archdiocese says it hopes to bring people closer together, the restructuring may end up pushing them away.
“It will take me a very very long time, if ever to join another parish. I'll go, of course I won't miss mass, my connection with God is very important but I don't know if I can join another parish,” said Theresa Zazzarino.
Church officials also say the closings and mergers will allow more resources to be directed toward services like schools and charities.