Recently I wrote a piece titled “Always say Goodbye” about the closing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. My wife Darcy (aka The Baseball Widow) shared her feeling on the matter as well and asked me to post on her behalf. Hope you enjoy.
On Saturday afternoon, I took my girls to church not realizing that this particular Saturday would be the last time I sat in the pews of this beautiful church we have called our parish (for myself well over 10 years and for Nick well over 40). I entered mass like any other mass, with Antonella in my arms drifting off to sleep. Cecilia pulled out the missal and I helped her find our page so we could follow along together.
Mass went on as it always does but when it was time for Monsignor Pedone to speak his sermon, something felt somber. Monsignor told the story of a father saying goodbye to his child at the airport. The ‘I wish you enough’ story I have heard before, and it always bring tears to my eyes, this story of an old man knowing in his heart that he is saying goodbye to his child for the last time. I filled up with tears as I listened to this story and thought that it was an odd theme but mass continued on as usual.
After the final blessing, Monsignor asked us all to sit. Being asked to sit was unsettling knowing what has been going on most recently with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church. I thought to myself, oh no, this is it, the announcement. What happened next took me by surprise. I expected to hear there had been a decision to close the church, what I didn’t expect was that this would be the last time any of us would attend mass at Mt Carmel. As my girls got restless my eyes filled with tears. I shushed them as I knew others were feeling my sadness, and that others were likely feeling anger and perhaps denial.
The sadness of this moment overwhelmed me as I realized that our beautiful Mt. Carmel would no longer be there. This beautiful church where I had gotten married and baptized two children, this church that really brought me back to church, as before attending a mass there I had been an on again off again, Christmas and Easter Catholic.
As I watch other reactions I made an observation, this loss is not unlike losing a beloved family member. There is true grief in this process. Mass was much like a funeral on Saturday, and what I heard and have read since is all very much in line with the stages of grief. . I have observed many different emotions around the closing and eventual demolition of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. There has been a great deal of anger. Many blame the state for putting up I290, others blame the church leaders for letting the damages go for too long. There are others in denial, believing they will never close THIS church. I have even heard some bargaining, we can sell that piece of land and build a new one more sturdy building on the opposite side of the land. Of course there is the depression, this is where I land, I have been teary eyed since hearing the news and trying so hard to explain it all to my eldest daughter who is also very sad and somewhat confused. I am working towards acceptance, I believe I am close. As my youngest child said to her sister as she cried over this loss; “but Ceci, you don’t want to go to a broken church”.
In the end holding on to what we love is a natural reaction. We buried my 97 year old grandmother this year, I miss her dearly, but she was ready to go and we had to say goodbye. Her legacy will live on through her family, just as the legacy of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, will live on through all of us who have loved her.