Sunday, March 7, 2010

90. Mary Help of Christians (CLOSED/Demolished)

NOTE: I haven't visited here in awhile, but it does seem this church is closed, having it's last Mass celebrated in 2012, some of it's remnants and parishioners moving to Immaculate Conception Church. Here are a few articles regarding it's closure:

Slideshow: Last Mass at Mary Help of Christians Church
Demolishing the 96-year-old Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church
This 7-Story Building Is Replacing Mary Help Of Christians 
Mapping 26 NYC Houses of Worship Being Replaced By Condos

Please let me know in the comments below anything else you know about the fate of this church and if there are any vigils or services ever held outside the steps or around here. Thanks!

(church info last updated 03/23/2016)
Address: 440 E. 12 St.
Phone: 212.254.0058; Immaculate Conception: 212.254.0200
Links:
"The Church Ladies" (New York Times)
Praying Outside Shuttered Doors
"Prayerful march to save what's left of East Village's churches" (The Villager)
About Mary Help of Christians

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

Traveling slowly (so many missed/nearly made trains and the stupid weekend local!) today down to the East Village to Mary Help of Christians church, I wondered if I would find it shut down, having to add it to my growing list of "CLOSED" churches. There was no answer at the phone number I found listed, no website -- nothing.

I visited here a few weeks ago on Ash Wednesday and it appeared all but boarded up. It was dreary that day in front of the church as I wandered around looking for some sign of life - eerily similar to what I found at Our Lady of Vilnius.

The sign listing Mass times read that Sunday Mass was at 10am, and at 11:30am in Spanish so I decided to come back to see. My little bit of research yielded that this church is nearly shut down, operated now by Immaculate Conception church on 14th street. But I didn't know for sure, didn't know what to expect.

Arriving at 440 East 12th street this morning, I found one of the front doors slightly ajar and wandered in. There was life after all! I was a few minutes late (of course,) so I walked in during the tail end of the sermon.

There was about 15 parishioners gathered (such a small number, the church seemed so empty - as if it was every bit on its way to being closed.) But it was bright, the Mass was said, and I was happy to be in attendance, happy to find this church still open, and not shuttered to the world, to those of us seekers needing a house of solace and a place of prayer, especially those living in the neighborhood. I have a feeling if I had attended the 11:30am Spanish Mass I might have found a larger, livelier crowd, a true Celebration.

A parishioner walking out of the church the same time as me today told me, "this church is just barely being kept alive."

My girlfriend and I visited Lady Liberty yesterday, even went inside her head. It was fantastic. Before yesterday I had only ever seen the statue as close as the Staten Island Ferry would allow, and now have finally realized a childhood fantasy of ascending those 354 steps to the crown. Its an amazing place in there, and reaching the top we found, not an over-tourist-populated hell, but a calm, peaceful place above the New York Harbor in which we could take everything in. The National Park rangers that run the place were all incredibly kind and informative (during the day we interacted with at least 6-7 of them and they were all so nice.) If you plan a trip to Liberty Island, you must visit the crown (if you can handle the stairs.) Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

We've had a good week together. The transition is becoming easier. If we are at peace and can be good to one another I know this is a relationship that will be deep and meaningful and good for both of us, as well as the rest of the world. And one I hope will last a very very long time.

15 comments:

  1. This church is in a good location, near lots of city night spots in the East Village. It would be a blessing if the archdiocese could turn it into a dynamic ministry location with a teen or young adult focus.

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  2. Loving your blog. I'm living vicariously through it. I climbed Miss Liberty in 1961, 1975, and twice in 1990. That's enough. At 67, I won't be doing it again but hopefully, I can visit some of the churches you write about. Sounds like you are doing better these days. Hope things continue for you.

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  3. Ironically, the parish had a lively youth/young adult ministry until the archdiocese closed it in the spring of 2007. Apparently they're keeping it semi-open as a chapel of sorts associated with Immaculate Conception, 2 blocks away (where the parish records are now).

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  4. This was my Church. I attended Mary Help of Christians School from 1959 to 1967. I look back to those days filled with the fondest of memories. My schoolmates were family, my neighborhood was home. I am filled with sadness that the school and Church have been closed down. I remember every nook and crany of the Church. I was an angel in the May processions. I gazed at all the statues many a Sunday morning. What happened to all the statues? Is the Church open at all for just visits???

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    1. I graduated from this school with my sister Sally back in 1967. I too look back with the fonest ofmemories. Drove by not long ago to show my kids.

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    2. I graduated in 1988. This is a said moment.

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    3. I attended 1955-57, Sister Superior (Julia) almost got me into a seminary, but I escaped to a military school. The area was mostly Italian.

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  5. The Church of Mary Help of Christians celebrates the Spanish mass every Sunday at 11:30. All are welcome.

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  6. I remember Mary Help of Christians Parish when it was a real, vibrant parish with many ministries. It was a truly holy place; a place that was always open to anyone at pretty much anytime. The Salesian Priests that lived there really served the community well. It's not the church that it used to be. I remember seeing alot of the youth, especially the Spanish youth, hanging out in the church. It was a safe haven for them. Sadly, where are those kids now? I still wish sometime that the Archdiocese would overturn their decision and give the church back to the Salesians.

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  7. OMG! Thank you SOOO much for these pictures!! I always wante dot go back there (I'm on Long Island) and sadly never made it back, I never experienced another parish or school like this and for that reason I am not a devoted Catholic anymore, I have taken on a belief of respect rather than worship for nature and what has been out here for us ALl to share and see and take care of, all religions. I attended the school from 1964-1970. Still a beautiful church.

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    1. Just 2 years 1968 to 69 never forget this Church was busy with activity and Love.

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  8. Please join us for our last mass at the Church of Mary Help of Christians on Sunday, September 9, 2012, at 11:30am (Spanish or bi-lingual Spanish/English). Our beloved church property is under contract to be sold to developers. Big suprize.

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    1. Hello Josephine - I'm sorry I was never able to make it to this Mass. Did your church close? Is it still around?

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  9. I went to school here from 1980 to 1989. I am so saddened by the closing of both the school and the church. It was such a big part of my life.

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    1. I went to the school 8 years and graduated in 1988. I was big part of my life too. After moving, I still came back to visit every year.

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