For several years now the famine era church has been a stark symbol of hope versus financial reality. There is no doubt that demographic changes have been having a profound effect on the physical layout and financial underpinning of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
St. Brigid’s was by no means the only parish in the archdiocese targeted for closure. And both closures and merging of Catholic churches and parochial schools have not been confined to that part of the archdiocese that sits within the New York City limits. The phenomenon has been evident in the suburbs too.
St. Brigid’s stood out from the rest, however, by virtue of the tenacity and energy of those who rallied to save it. It benefited too by its history.
While there might not be too many Irish worshipers these days it is the church’s physical and spiritual link with the Irish New York of another time, a most significant time, that ensured support for the St. Brigid’s campaign from within Irish American and well beyond it.
Clearly, that support, that determination to preserve an old place in a city that worships all things new, impressed the unnamed benefactor who came to the rescue of St. Brigid’s in such a spectacular way.
It remains now for the archdiocese, the parishioners of St. Brigid’s and all those who see the church as a living link with the years that gave birth to the Irish America we know today, to ensure that this now twice over symbol of triumph over adversity not only survives, but also thrives.