Category: Archive

Echo Editorial: Still standing

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

What about James Kelly and his family? And what were these people like, anyway? What were Catherine Fitzsimmons’s hopes and dreams? Or Thomas Connolly’s? Did any or all of them live out relatively happy lives in America? Did they achieve a measure of comfort? The tentative answer to the last question is: quite possibly, yes. For we know that they each paid for a beautiful stained-glass window in St. Brigid’s church in Lower Manhattan sometime in the latter part of the 19th century. We also know that they had a close family tie to Ireland, enough to note their counties of origin on those same stained-glassed windows.
One wonders, too, whether these and other named benefactors and their gifts to St. Brigid’s are known to any of their descendants? If not, at least they’ll be spared the knowledge that the stained-glass windows were destroyed last Friday morning by a demolition crew hired by the Catholic archdiocese of New York.
If ever there’s such a thing as legal vandalism, then this is it. For the issue of St. Brigid’s church was up for consideration later that day in court. Any kind of leadership from the archdiocese would have ensured that these valuable and salvageable items weren’t exposed to such danger in the first place.
The good news is that St. Brigid’s, with its famous crack on its back wall, is still standing — despite the 8-foot square hole punched in it last Thursday. Judge Barbara Kapnick, who wants to revisit some of the arguments in the case, has halted demolition until Aug. 24.
We can only hope that the support for St. Brigid’s shown by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and numerous other public representatives might compel the archdiocese to act in a more decent and transparent manner.
For now, we must congratulate the Save St. Brigid’s Committee – and other local activists, preservationists and the Irish Americans who’ve joined them — for their efforts thus far.

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