Editor’s note: Yesterday, Sunday July 1, was set as the final celebration of Catholic Mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Church. A forthcoming news story will address that event. The following letter was received after the final Mass celebration:
To the editor,
The headline of a story in the June 28, 2019 Pall-Times edition reads: “Diocese responds to concerns over St. Mary’s.” A reading shows that it did not.
The Diocese was completely silent about St. Mary of the Assumption’s special architecture, amazing stained glass windows that tell the story of the faith, the irreplaceable carved rosewood interior and cross as well as its history dating back to 1869 and the original wooden church building.
The present Church, built by parishioners and concentrated in 1925, inspires worship and parishioner support, including financial. It is an amazing that the Diocese is closing it when just a few years ago the Diocese recognized its significance by designating it an alternative Basilica for the Cathedral like Sacred Heart in Syracuse.
The Diocese was also completely silent as to why Christ the Good Shepherd Parish could not have two campuses, namely St. Paul’s on the eastside of Oswego and St. Mary’s on the west.
The first reason given by the Diocese in the article is its October 2017 study which states that there are 1,107 people who regularly attend Mass in Oswego. This numbers bears further examination. A review of the Diocese’s study shows 70 percent of those regularly attending Mass live on the west side, not the east. It also shows that when regular attendance at St. Paul’s is compared to St. Mary’s, St. Paul’s is 33 percent less. Does this justify eliminating all churches on the west side of Oswego?
The other reason given by the Diocese in the article is that its architectural study states that the exterior maintenance of St. Mary’s, “could cost an average of $100,000 a year.” I read this study and that is not what it says – nothing like it.
The report does say that the major expense to bring St. Mary’s up to “a good rating” compared to St. Paul’s is the installation of “cooling generating systems,” i.e. air conditioning, at a cost of more than $1,000,000. St. Mary’s since it concentration in 1925, has not been air conditioned. Is this a capital improvement that is so important that it prevents St. Mary’s being continued as an active place of worship?
The architectural study also gave the 2018 utility costs for St. Mary’s and St. Paul’s. Not surprisingly, St. Mary’s utility costs were more expensive than St. Paul’s by some $11,544. It is noteworthy, however St. Mary’s physical plant is some 11,450 square feet (or 46 percent) larger. Couldn’t some technology be found that could address this?
In any event, parishioners of St. Mary’s have always stepped up to provide money for the Church and its needs. For example, just 7 or 8 years ago, the parishioners of St. Mary’s raised over a $1,000,000 to replace the roof of the Church. This was a major project. The cost was paid for in cash without any borrowings.
St. Mary’s has no debt. Instead it has investments and savings totaling more than $365,000. St. Mary’s collections and fundraising are the highest in Oswego. This clearly evidences that parishioners have and will support this Church if given a chance.
This beautiful Church needs to be preserved and regularly used. It is the type which in Europe are cherished and appreciated by all. Failure to actively use it could easily lead to decay, disrepair and deterioration. No one wants this.
Based on the facts, can’t we resolve this with one new parish having two campuses, namely at St. Paul’s and at St. Mary’s?
John D. Allen