Congregation holds service outside locked church in Holyoke - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Congregation holds service outside locked church in Holyoke

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HOLYOKE, MA (WSHM) -

Members of the former Mater Dolorosa church congregation held a service outside of the locked building on Maple Street Christmas Day.

The doors have been locked since June of 2011. The Springfield Diocese wanted the building closed for financial reasons and because they said the steeple was in danger of collapse.

A decision was made to merge the congregation with Holy Cross to form Our Lady of the Cross.

Several members staged a protest by living in the church for a year. At one point the case was taken to court to get the protestors to leave. The Vatican agreed to look at the closure as long as the people left the church.

Since then, dozens of parishioners have been holding prayer vigils on Friday to reopen the doors. They have also made sure to decorate the church and keep the front of it tidy.

With a new pope in office and new leadership expected in the Springfield Diocese, members of the congregation hope they will be able to open the doors again.

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