What's needed are photos of The Friends of Our Lady of Peace holding nightly vigils around the century-old church on East 62nd Street, which was shuttered in August by the Archdiocese of New York. Such pictures are needed to illustrate significant and ongoing media coverage of these peaceful protests to save this deeply loved church.
Of course, “the word” the church desperately wants to hear from the Vatican is to reopen this church, whose dedicated congregation has raised enough money to support its operation for the next decade. The church, on East 62nd street between Second and Third Avenues, is also landmarked. Incidentally, St. John the Evangelist Church to which it's now officially merged, has a rather “cold and modern ambience,” said a non-member who visited Our Lady of Peace whenever business or vacation time brought him back to the Upper East Side.
The “new church” on East 55th Street and First Avenue is also further away for most members — a decided hardship for some, especially elder members or single parents with children. And to my knowledge, like most faith groups, not a lot is done to escort those in need of assistance to services and other events – even as the population ages.
And too little is publicly said about how faith groups provide space for public service group meetings like 12 Step groups. And much more. And I just now learned of the unexpected passing of Father Angelo, who in his tenure at St. Stephen of Hungary Church did so much to make it a community place. He initiated the Thanksgiving Dinner for the Community and other programs for the public at large, including low-cost exercise classes for seniors and a Saturday Green Market. He reportedly made invaluable improvements to St. Stephen's elementary school. And not surprisingly, the congregation was very distressed when his retirement was suddenly pushed up by the church hierarchy. Too little was publicly said about that. Father Angelo will be greatly missed and all he did must surely be remembered.
But back to the hopeful reopening of Our Lady of Peace — well, faith groups need more coverage. Except now it's given to some conservative evangelicals who favor a candidate despite his foul mouth who even mocks a rival for having his mother on the campaign trail. A not unrelated digression, but we need more elders on the campaign trails and, of course, family members when they exist — and using walkers and wheelchairs too. More intergenerational support systems are needed to prevent and solve so many intractable social problems with communication and relationship skills taught from pre-kindergarteners on out. And shouldn't faith groups be in the vanguard of all that?
In the meantime, Valentine's Day is definitely not about couple love only. And it couldn't be a more appropriate time to join The Friends of Our Lady of Peace — no matter our creed or if we just believe the city can't afford to lose any more faith groups because of the great community good they do. It's also architecture we can't afford to lose.