A Somber last Mass for St. Veronica’s


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The Christopher Street church was known for its advocacy in the gay community


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  • Holy Communion during the last Mass at St. Veronica's Church Sunday, June 25. Photo: Estelle Pyper




On Sunday, June 25, the historic St. Veronica’s Catholic church on Christopher Street hosted its last official services: Mass in English at 10 a.m. and then in Spanish at 11:15 a.m. Both were led by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Santiago Rubio.

Sparse attendance of about 45 at the first Mass left plenty of empty pews, corroborating for some the main reason the church is closing after 120 years as a place of worship and a community cornerstone. St. Veronica’s merged with the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard’s in 2006.

While St. Veronica’s was landmarked as part of the 2006 extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District, there is some concern the interior could still be altered. As of now, the church community is unsure of what the space will turn into. Parishioners continue to collect signatures on a petition calling for the church to be kept as is, including the in-house AIDS memorial plaque on the second level.

While there was no mention of the impending closure during Sunday’s Mass, a palpable mood of discontent hung over the congregation. Afterward, attendees expressed sadness as they spoke to familiar faces and greeted passers-by who had wandered through the open doors.

There was a table set up in back with the petition and women asked around for more signatures. People took pictures and mingled with neighbors. “It’s a sad time, we appreciate everyone’s support,” one of the women gathering signatures said to anyone who would listen.

The church closed the day of the New York City Pride March, “which is ironic for us,” church member Terri Cook pointed out, alluding to the church’s history of advocacy for the nearby gay community.

One special Mass is still scheduled for July 23 — what parishioners are calling an “alumni” Mass, which the community is welcome to celebrate

“We were all happy to see so many visitors to the AIDS Memorial who also signed our petition to help keep St. Veronica’s open,” Cook said. “We are grateful for the community’s support and will continue our efforts to re-open the church.”





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