At the corners of Maple and Lyman Streets in Holyoke now stands the former site of Mater Dolorosa church.
Demolition on the more than 115 year old parish, built by Polish immigrants, began last week..
Parishioners appealed to the Vatican after the Springfield Diocese closed the church in 2011, but the decision was upheld due to debt and an unsafe steeple.
On Monday family members of those same immigrants who built this church watched as demolition began on its steeple.
“It was a staple of Holyoke,” said Brian McKinnon, a former student of Mater Dolorosa. “Lot of memories here. There’s many generations, my grandmother went here.”
One woman who grew up in the church said she was hopeful they’d keep it as a landmark for Polish history, but an application to turn the building into a historical district was denied.
“Right before Christmas it really hurts you, it hits you really hard,” said Lidia Lech, who was baptized and confirmed at the church. “Going to other churches it’s not the same thing.”
Springfield Diocese Spokesman Mark Dupont told 22news taking down the steeple is a delicate process.
“The procedure we’re following is actually the safest methodology to remove the steeple,” said Dupont. “So we needed to create a larger parcel.. an envelope a work envelope to do the demolition.”
Dupont said they hope to have most of the demolition done by the holidays.