By Mauro DePasquale, president, Mount Carmel Preservation Society
editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold. -R.T.
Thank God! Never underestimate faith and power of prayer!
[Tuesday] night the [Worcester] City Council voted 9-2 to move our petition for a Mount Carmel Historic District forward.
This is a noteworthy event that requires us all to remain vigilant toward preserving and reopening our church on Mulberry Street.
We look forward to continuing discussions with the Diocese, as we hope to work together toward a solution to re-open and maintain the Church on Mulberry Street.
Thank you to the nine [City] Council members (Mayor Joseph Petty, Candy Carlson, George Russel, Kate Toomey, Morris Bergman, Gary Rosen, Konstantia Lukes, Sarai Rivera, Khrystian King) for voting in support of providing time for hope and serious discussion to transpire.Their vote signifies the justice of our mission and the time and due diligence all stake holders and the historic resource deserves.
Thank you to all the amazing speakers who spoke, from the heart, passionately, in favor of moving our petition forward, and thank you to all who came to [Tuesday] night’s meeting in support of MPS [the Mount Carmel Preservation Society].
We need to think out of the box, but a solution to sustainability and continued repairs is possible. Now we will have a chance to properly present our ideas. The road ahead may not be easy, but neither was it for those who sacrificed to build it.
See you at the next Historic Commission Meeting. We will inform you of date, time and location details soon.
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Mount Carmel Preservation Society Statement – January 10, 2017
In December 2016 the Mount Carmel Preservation Society (MPS) had delayed its petition for a historical district for Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
This was done in good faith, in exchange for the Bishop’s offer that, if we tabled our petition, he will not take action to demolish the Church until January 2018 and will also work with the MPS, the WBDC and the Chamber of Commerce, to explore and seek a solution to save the church.
MPS met with the Bishop on December 30, 2016 and took what had transpired under advisement with our Membership. We later responded, with membership consensus, with a letter sent on January 3, 2017, to the Diocesan leadership, asking the Diocese to consider addressing concerns that we felt needed to first be agreed to in order to set a proper foundation for future discussions.
Whereas the Diocese response did not address our specific concerns by January 9, as per our request, and whereas the permit for demolition formally continues to stand for May 2017, and the window to preserve the Church is closing in on the time required to properly process a Historic District application, we must move forward with our petition.
Our request asking the Council to move our petition forward to the historic commission, reflects our desire to give the Historic Commission, and all the stake holders, the fair amount of time and due diligence, Mount Carmel, as one of the top ten most endangered historical resources in Massachusetts, deserves.
It is our understanding, as recently reaffirmed in a recent response to an appeal from the Vatican, that the Church is safe from the wrecking ball until the Bishop first issues a decree to relegate it to profane but not sordid use, which may be appealed through a process set forth through Canon Law.
With consideration to the above, it is the consensus MPS membership to move forward with their petition for a Mount Carmel Historic District, before the City Council this Tuesday (1/10/17).
The Mount Carmel Preservation Society does not wish to risk the church to the wrecking ball as scheduled in May 2017. We are seeking the Diocese to be willing to accept the following in order for us to consider further delaying our petition for a historic district:
We have asked this of the Diocese in a letter sent on January 4, 2017 with a request to respond to us by January 9, 2017:
The Diocese to be willing to issue a written promise to revoke the permit to demolish scheduled for May 2017 or promise to delay any action to demolish the Church until January 2019. To allow time for discussions and implementation of a process to develop a master plan that includes a funding solution to repair and re-open the Church;
The Diocese to be willing to have Masses celebrated in the Recreation Center until the church is made safe to reopen;
The Diocese to be willing to re-open the church for masses as soon as the City [of Worcester] Inspector deems it safe to enter;
Church leadership to be willing to collaborate with the Mount Carmel Preservation Society, with the MPS having a voting role, in the care, manage and maintain the Church as sacred center for Worcester’s Italian American Community and for all Catholics to celebrate our faith;
The Diocese to consider having our Parish, in collaboration with the Mount Carmel Preservation Society, develop the property to best use land and structures to benefit Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish.
In the event that the Parish is not to facilitate development of the property on its own, Mount Carmel Preservation Society will have a voting seat at the table during the design process, and formulation of the Master plan to assure the building will continue to exist as a functioning sacred space, and as a religious and cultural center for the Italian American people of Worcester. and decisions concerning the eventual buyer.
The Historic District study can take more than 60 days (up to a year in some cases as we were informed) and whereas time is of the essence, the Diocese response to our request in the positive to the above must be sooner rather than later. Therefor without the response to what we are seeking prior to the Council meeting on January 10, we (MPS) feel it is in the best interest of our mission to move forward with the Historic District petition. We expect to continue discussions with Bishop and the Diocese in hopes to find an agreeable solution toward saving and reopening our Church as the petition moves forward through the process.
Regretfully, the Bishop has informed the MPS that our request of maintaining the Our Lady of Mount Carmel/St. Ann Parish, as a single parish, on Mulberry Street is denied and non-negotiable. If there is to be no parish, further delay of the petition will only be pursuant to MPS receiving a written assurance that the six items, as stated above, can be agreed to by the Diocese and that Mount Carmel is to continue to exist as a sacred space, with broad base access and support.
It has been a part of our goal all along to fix the Church and reopen it for masses and to save our parish on Mulberry Street. We look forward to healing our parish family and to save its local history as well as its sacred Italian American cultural center for all to celebrate.
We feel at this time it is in the best interest of our mission to move forward with our petition as we pursue open discussions to explore solutions to preserve and reopen our Church.
Historic Commission, Bishop McManus, Monsignor Pedone, MPS Board of Directors