Editor's note: The Palladium-Times sent multiple requests to the Diocese of Syracuse for clarification or explanation of some of the claims in the letter below. A diocese spokesperson declined to comment.
To the editor,
As a trustee for St. Mary’s Catholic Church and having served on the steering committee since January 2018, I have some serious concerns regarding how the decision was made to keep St. Paul’s church as the new site for Christ The Good Shepherd Parish, as well as the devastating impact this will surely have on the city of Oswego.
I believe the Catholic community and the Oswego community deserve to know more about how this decision was made and the information that was used to make it. In the end it boiled down to a few parishioners making a monumental decision for the entire Catholic community, not a good representation of those affected and whose weekly economic contribution matters. I feel the entire Catholic community should have made it similarly to the choosing of the new name.
The decision was based in part on the architectural and real estate analysis which was inconclusive and on which too much emphasis was placed. I believe there exists a significant chance of inaccuracy in the analysis documents provided to the steering committee as well.
Were all possible outcomes considered? Not enough emphasis was given to the sale or repurpose of the real estate portfolio. When evaluating the four churches, what churches are the most attractive to investors looking to purchase property? What about the value placed on the historical aspects of the building?
Is ignoring one of the most iconic structures in our community counterproductive to what the Oswego Renaissance Association (ORA) and downtown revitalization project are doing? As a community member, I feel that it is my responsibility to respect and honor what generations before me have worked so hard to create and, therefore, help to preserve that for this current generation and generations in the future. We are stewards of the structures that our ancestors created. This city has many structures that are over 100 years old such as the Oswego Public Library and the Cahill Landing building. These buildings have required significant repair and restoration but the community as a whole came together to generate the necessary funds to make that happen not only for our current enjoyment but for that of generations to come.
St. Mary’s Church is currently in very good condition and is functioning well and has had the financial commitment from its parishioners to continue to maintain it for decades. The sale of the other three buildings and investing that money, as well as the combined weekly donations from the parishioners, grant money for historic preservation avenues, such as SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) for example, and endowments are exactly what is needed to help the building thrive. This is the perfect scenario for a lifetime of financial stability to continue to maintain and preserve this architectural wonder for many generations to come.
How are we going to move forward as a Catholic community if we have buildings that we have left behind and how will it affect our neighborhood? What is left in the wreckage? Can it be avoided?
We talk about the need to build up the church membership and bring in new people as well as reignite the past members who have slipped away. What are we offering them? When they come to St. Mary’s they feel the sense of prayer and worship this church represents. When you are in St. Mary’s you “feel God’s presence.” When people think of the Catholic community of Oswego, they think of St. Mary’s in the center of this city with all its grandeur!
As this decision stands now, I strongly believe a disservice is being done to the Catholic Community of Oswego as well as the citizens of Oswego. The parishioners should not be satisfied with, nor should they settle for, this outcome! Reach out to your trustees, priests and deacons as well as the diocese and let your voice be heard!
Mary Beth Maniccia Docos