Demonstrators protest St. Anthony’s Church closing

March 31, 2014
St. Anthony’s Church, located at Chess Street and Park Avenue in Monongahela, is scheduled to close April 28. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A small demonstration was held Monday morning at the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh’s headquarters to protest Bishop David A. Zubik’s decision to close St. Anthony’s Church in Monongahela.

The Rev. Ronald Lengwin met with nearly a dozen members of the Society for the Preservation of St. Anthony’s, which delivered a letter of protest concerning the church closing planned for April 28, a diocesan spokeswoman said.

In a news release, the St. Anthony’s group indicated it is being advised by Brody Hale, director of the Catholic Church Preservation Society in Boston. Hale predicted St. Anthony’s won’t be successful in its “first-level” appeal to Zubik, since he is the person who closed the church.

“Church closings started in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, they continue in Pittsburgh, even while other dioceses are finding better, more workable solutions,” Hale stated in the news release.

Lengwin said he did not read the letter of protest before passing it along to Zubik’s office. Zubik was not in his office Monday and has the option to respond or not respond to the letter.

Lengwin said the St. Anthony’s group had much praise for Zubik at the diocesan office, while its news release about the protest contained negative information.

It’s the second round of protests organized to keep the church at Chess Street and Park Avenue open in a reorganized parish. Masses were temporarily canceled at St. Anthony’s in 2012, not long after St. Damien of Molokai Parish was created, leaving the Transfiguration worship site as the only Roman Catholic church left in the city.

Zubik reopened St. Anthony’s for Saturday Masses while he reconsidered the closing. He then announced March 23 he would once again close the church, which is in a parish with a declining congregation and revenues.

Society member Laura Magone said the bishop doesn’t understand the level of pain he has brought to St. Anthony’s.

“We can show the spiritual harm, depression and physical symptoms this merger has caused,” she said.s

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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