The committee members said they wanted to restore the Famine-era church as a “Catholic place of worship and a national monument to Irish immigration.”
The letter writers add that the “outpouring of concern from the Irish community has been a great source of inspiration for our campaign.”
It notes the letter of concern to Cardinal Edward Egan written by outgoing president Jack McGinley and other senior AOH members.
“But we are at the 11th hour and feel that a proactive intervention by Irish-American organizations, especially those with a strong Catholic ethos, could save St. Brigid’s,” they said in the letter to the new president, Jack Meehan.
The letter continues: “This is not the place to enumerate the ways in which archdiocese officials have acted in bad faith in this long affair. But we will point to the destruction of the 19th century stained-glass windows, bearing the names of Irish donors, on the very day the issue was due back in court.”
“Would His Eminence’s immediate predecessors, Cardinals John O’Connor and Terence Cooke, have been so disrespectful of their Irish heritage? We think not.
“They, surely, would have explored alternatives to demolition. They would have recognized that the Irish, one of the most successful ethnic groups in America (and according to some analyses the most successful), and the newly-affluent Irish at home have together the resources to properly commemorate the sacrifices of those generations who went before them.”
The letter is signed by Mary Gleason, Keavy Gleason, Patti Kelly, Jerome O’Connor and Carolyn Ratcliffe.
The demolition began early morning Thursday, July 27. That afternoon, the committee’s lawyer won another hearing before State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick for the following day.
At 7 a.m., on Friday morning, the demolition crew began destroying the stained-glass windows. The Fire Department and the city’s Buildings Department, both of which were called by residents, intervened. A few hours later, Judge Kapnick, who had previously ruled in favor of the archdiocese, agreed to hear arguments again on Thursday, Aug. 24.
The Save St. Brigid’s Committee is holding a benefit to allay costs on this Friday evening (Aug. 18) from 6 to 10 p.m. at Solas Bar, 232 East 9th St., (between Second and Third Avenues).