St. Brigid’s parishioners hope to appeal ruling


East Village neighbors and former parishioners of St. Brigid’s Church, at right, on Avenue B and E. Eighth St. are trying to raise money for an appeal of a ruling by a State Supreme Court justice that essentially would allow demolition of the 1849 church building whenever the Catholic Archdiocese of New York is ready. The church was ordered closed in 2001 because of a dangerous crack in the east wall and the parish was dissolved in 2004.

Members of the congregation joined Most Holy Redeemer Church on E. Third St. between First Ave. and Avenue A but many of them sued the archdiocese to prevent demolition of their former church, which was built by Irish boat builders who worked in the East River boatyards.

However, Justice Barbara Kapnick decided on Jan. 31 that the archdiocese is entitled to demolish the building with the consent of a St. Brigid’s board of trustees. Under state law, the board would include representatives of the archbishop, the diocese vicar general, the rector of the church or his successor and two lay members of the parish. Joseph Zwilling, spokesperson for the archdiocese, said last week that the three clerical members of the board are in place and the two lay members would be appointed when the diocese was ready to redevelop the property. Zwilling, however, said there was no decision yet on what would replace the church.

Parishioners raised $103,000 to repair the building, but the archdiocese said it would take more than $500,000 to make the building safe to occupy. The dissolution of the parish was part of a diocesan-wide reorganization that has resulted in several church closings in Manhattan.