To the Editor:
On Saturday, Jan. 1, I attempted to go to Mass at Saint Joseph’s Church as my family and I have done for about 90 years. To my dismay, the church doors were locked. I soon found out that there will no longer be weekend and daily Masses at Saint Joseph’s. In 1888, Saint Joseph’s parish was formed by hardworking Slovak Catholics as the first Slovak Roman Catholic Church in the eastern part of the United States. The present church, located on 25th Street and Avenue E, was built in 1908 and renovated in 1952.
The beginning of the end was when our priest and pastor for 35 years was denied his request to continue serving our parish. Since his departure on July 1, 2007, many events have occurred that has led to today’s state of affairs. The times of Masses were changed and then reduced. Saint Joseph’s was linked and then merged with Saint Michael’s. On Sept. 7, 2008, the Archdiocese of Newark renamed the church as the Saint Joseph Syriac Catholic Cathedral. The rectory was leased to the Syriac clergy. The saddest part of all these actions during the last few years is that there was very little or in most cases no input or communication with the people who built this once glorious parish. Rumors began months ago that Saint Joseph’s would be closed, but since there never was any announcements by the current pastor, I didn’t know Masses would cease.
I definitely understand that actions must be taken to ensure the Roman Catholic Church continues to survive during these difficult times. However, I seriously question the process that has been used and how it has negatively affected so many devoted people, especially those who worked so hard for so many years for Saint Joseph’s Church. Finally, I question whether the fact that Saint Joseph’s had investments of about $1.8 million when all of these changes began had anything to do with decisions that were made.