For once, a legal decision went in favor of the parishioners and their supporters, with state Supreme Court Judge Barbara Kapnick halting the demolition that had begun early Thursday until Aug. 24.
But it was too late for the Bavarian-made windows on the north side of St. Brigid’s, which were dedicated to benefactor families and cited their Irish counties of origin.
“They were smashed with a long metal crowbar,” said St. Brigid’s campaigner Carolyn Ratcliffe. “He smiled and laughed at us while we were crying in the street. We were aghast.”
The windows bore dedications such as “The Gift of Patrick O’Connor,” “Pray for Thomas Connolly, Benefactor,” “Pray for James Kelly and Family” and “Pray for Catherine Fitzsimmons.”
Ratcliffe said that less expensive, stenciled windows had been removed several months ago from the north side of the church.
She added that demolition crews also destroyed the remaining pews on Friday.
An Irish-American supporter of the parishioners, who didn’t want to be named, described the destruction of the stained-glass windows as “hooliganism” done under cover of permit and “particularly egregious” given that Judge Kapnick had agreed the previous day to hear the case again on Friday.
“It really hurt,” he said. “At the vigil Friday night, people just looked up at the windows and shook their heads.”
Earlier this year, Justice Kapnick ruled against the Save St. Brigid’s Committee in their efforts to stop the demolition. In June, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court upheld that decision.
But in a separate suit, the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s have questioned the ownership of the church, which under New York law is supposed to be governed by a five-person board of trustees including two parishioners, and have questioned the paperwork relating to the demolition. The parishioners have said the board was never constituted, while the archdiocese said it convened a meeting — apparently its first and last — on July 18 which agreed on demolition.