CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - After more than two years of uncertainty, three local churches that were closed by the diocese are getting the news they've been waiting to hear.
St. Patrick Church in Chicopee closed in 2009, but parishioners did not lose faith, and kept fighting for it to be re-opened. Their prayers have been heard, as the Vatican ruled that St. Patrick and two other Western Massachusetts churches open their doors again, even though the Diocese of Springfield shut them down.
Parishioners learned Tuesday that the Vatican ruled Bishop Timothy McDonnell was not justified in closing down St. Stanislaus Kostka in Adams, St. Patrick in Chicopee, and St. George in Chicopee. The ruling means the churches should reopen for worship.
Parishioners argued in their appeals that the Bishop did not meet the high standard under Canon Law for shutting down the church buildings and converting them from holy to secular use. The Vatican agreed, saying that Bishop McDonnell did not provide the "necessary grave motivations" for closing the churches.
At this time, it is really unclear how these churches will be used. St. George, like St. Patrick has not held Masses since 2009.
Parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka have occupied their church in protest since December of 2008.
These churches could now start up regular Mass again, or the churches may just be opened as a place to pray.
The Springfield Diocese may appeal to the Vatican's high court about this decision. Diocesan spokesman Mark Dupont told 22News that the diocese had not seen the Vatican documents on the two Chicopee churches, and he could not comment until they were closely reviewed.