Source: The Washington Post
SCITUATE, Mass. — For almost 12 years, the parishioners of St. Frances X. Cabrini have prayed, eaten meals, watched the Super Bowl and even slept in the church, holding a round-the-clock vigil to protest the Archdiocese of Boston’s decision to close it.
They have used detailed sign-up sheets to ensure that at least one person was in the church at all times, had communion wafers secretly consecrated by sympathetic priests, and held weekly services led entirely by lay members of the congregation.
On Sunday, having exhausted their options in Vatican and American courts, the parishioners held their last service, but not without a final act of defiance. A man who was ordained a Roman Catholic priest, but was later married, stood at the altar of the deconsecrated church and led services for parishioners who said they intended to break away from the archdiocesan hierarchy and form an independent Catholic church.
“In every revolution, obviously, there are collateral damage and there are casualties,” said Jon Rogers, an organizer of the vigil with his wife, Maryellen. “Our beloved church is one of those casualties.”
The parishioners plan to leave the church by 11:59 p.m. Monday and hold a service next Sunday in a Masonic lodge, a temporary stop while they try to raise money for a building of their own.
In a statement, the archdiocese said it hoped the congregants would join other parishes. “Their sense of loss from the closing of the parish is understandable,” the statement said. “For this reason the archdiocese kept its commitment to allow the appeals process to conclude both in civil and canonical courts.”
With their vigil, the parishioners tapped into a deep well of mistrust after the archdiocese, rocked by a sexual abuse scandal, moved to close dozens of parishes in 2004 — citing a decline in priests and congregants.