To the Editor:
I agree with Bette Dewing (“Closing More Than Just Churches,” Aug. 6 Own Town) that the drastic mergers of New York City parishes profoundly distresses thousands of Catholics and others directly affected, including extended families and friends, neighbors and co-workers. How can one’s distress not be felt by others? Some merged churches neither have handicap accessibility nor the necessary auditorium space and public meeting rooms for senior citizen exercise classes, meetins of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and other programs, and for social gatherings so needed for some with no close family or friends other than those they meet there.
Dewing mentioned that something we concerned can do is to leave flowers outside every shuttered church, keep leaving them, and sending pictures and related messages to the media. I feel that bringing flowers and placing them by one’s church is like bringing them to the grave of a loved one. It helps in grieving, as does speaking to one’s family and friends about one’s loss, but also remembering the good times when the church made them feel happy spiritually, emotionally and physically through its many services and social activities. Happiness needs to return to their lives; sadness contributes to a decline in overall health, while happiness contributes to health and longevity.
Taking pictures of the flowers by the church and writing about their feelings also helps in the healing process, as does sharing their pictures and writings with friends and the media, in the hope this will help others going through this difficult time. The publicity from the media may even prompt the archdiocese to make some positive changes going forward. Some have chosen not to go to the merged churches, and have even adjusted their contributions to the annual cardinal’s appeal — whatever helps them feel better.
In closing, I wish everyone will do the best they can, remember the good times, and do the things that make you happy. Don’t let them take your happiness away too. No way!