After years of fighting to stay open, the Church of the Nativity in the East Village is closing its doors and will be holding its last day of services Friday at 7 p.m..
The church, located at 44 Second Avenue, is being closed, like many in the city, as part of the Archdiocese of New York’s efforts to consolidate.
“When we heard the news we were sad, but also hopeful that something could happen given that we didn’t close in 2006,” said Mercedez Sanchez, a Nativity parishioner and East Village resident.
Sanchez and the other parishioners soon learned, however, that this would not be like the last time the church was scheduled to close.
After discussing the issue, they decided to appeal the decision, but learned that their decree — the official church document used to close their church — had not been given to them until long after their 10-day window to appeal had passed.
“Not only are we sad because we’re losing our parish but we are also upset at how it happened,” Sanchez said. “We think that we deserve that right to an appeal, to a fair fight.”
Despite this, Sanchez said the church has accepted its fate, which is to merge its 300 members with the much larger church, Most Holy Redeemer on East 3rd Street. The new church — which will be given a new name by the joined parishioners once the merger is final — is just one of the changes being implemented by the Archdiocese of New York.
By August, New York City’s 112 parishes will be consolidated into just 55 new parishes due to “changing demographics” and a shortage of priests available to say mass.
Sanchez added that while the parish has accepted its closure, they are looking to preserve the history of their church with a chapel dedicated to their most famous member, activist and Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day.
That way, Sanchez said, they can honor the memory of their parish while providing some much-needed services to homeless people in the East Village, adding “we are looking forward to working with the Most Holy Redeemer parish and this new church.”