By Rosalie Tirella
… you ain’t got no church.
Just an empty, albeit beautiful, edifice.
Notre Dame church. Erected for and by grubby immigrants in another Worcester century, but the most graceful building on the city block!
Slated to meet the wrecking ball – and lose! – in order to make way for more of our new, Walmart-like downtown! New, plywood, “luxury” apartments – or a big-box, cinder-block parking garage to house the cars of the people who will live in the new, plywood, “luxury” apartments. An act of sheer folly! But to the developers, Notre Dame church IS a folly!
You can’t blame them: They’re money guys. Money is their God. And they’re not from our city – have no history with Notre Dame church. Even if it was only driving by it or walking by it to go to work in some downtown office or to return a book to the public library across the street. Yet always FEELING the church’s elegance, always BEING BATHED in the church’s beauty. It’s – like everything – a subconscious trip!
Cuz Notre Dame is one of the few inspirational – full of Grace! Spirits soar before its cloud-caressing portal! – buildings in our evolving (devolving??) downtown. Also, it’s aspirational! The French Canadian immigrants who called it theirs, who worshipped God there – but especially the Virgin Mother – “Our Lady,” “Notre Dame” in French – had high hopes for themselves and their children. In WORCESTER. In AMERICA! They must have thought to themselves: Look at our gorgeous church! BUILT BY US! The best thing on the block! We can do anything!!
Now … here’s their church …
… drowning in the ugliness!
All the big boxes. With the smaller boxes (the luxury apartments) inside of them.
The church stands alone.
The cheese stands alone.
Could the developer, its owner, have saved it? Yes, of course. But why? Why spend all that extra dough? Why make the big effort for a building they don’t love like the locals do? To them, Notre Dame is just a white elephant they’ve (unfortunately) been saddled with. Notre Dame means SOMETHING to you and me! It means NOTHING to them!!
You’d think the City of Worcester would have/could have worked with the developer to find a solution. Nope. They’re too busy giving blow jobs to every developer who walks through the door! PLEASE! INVEST IN WORCESTER! WE’LL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU! TIFs ARE JUST THE BEGINNING! Or some rich old Worcester yankee, up to her/his nostrils in million-dollar trust funds from our long-gone factories/industrial heyday.
No such luck. It’s all futile hand-wringing!
So, we lose something we love, never to be regained, recreated, resurrected. Like your mother, your old beau, a great friend. You have the memories, but they fade. You tell the stories so you – everybody – remembers. But it’s not the flesh and blood, the kisses, the stones and marble, the person, the First Holy Communion processions, the gold leaf cross, the candles, the perfume, the burning incense. The Church. You know, the Love Parade.