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St. Cecilia's Church Buildings 'Scavenged,' Parishioners Claim

Parishioners gathered outside St. Cecilia's in Greenpoint.
Parishioners gathered outside St. Cecilia's in Greenpoint.
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St. Cecilia's

GREENPOINT — Distraught parishioners claim St. Cecilia's currently empty schoolhouse has been stripped of metal and plumbing — and the members of the historic Catholic church on Herbert Street are demanding an explanation from the administration.

"Any metal that was of value seems to have been taken from the building," said Rosalie Washack, a lifelong congregant. "We got no explanation from the administrator of the church or from the Diocese of Brooklyn."

Washack, 63, said the brass knobs, radiators, and metal stairwell gates were yanked from the Monitor Street schoolhouse, which has been vacant since last August — one of many disruptions since the church's 2010 merger with two neighboring churches to relieve financial troubles, she claimed.

"We're concerned, and we're not getting an answer," said Washack, who was baptized in the church 62 years ago. "Why would you render this building unusable when there are public schools and other schools that might want to use it?"

Washack, a member of the outspoken parishioners' group called Union of the Faithful, said the congregation's two residences for priests and nuns on Herbert Street and on Richardson Street — also both empty — had also been stripped.

The Rev. Kenneth Grande, currently the administrator of the Divine Mercy Parish — which includes St. Cecilia's, St. Nicholas and St. Francis of Paola — did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and neither did the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The schoolhouse, which fills about one-fourth of the block, held a Catholic school until 2008 and then dozens of art studios until last summer, said Washack, who received her education there.

"This church was built in 1891 and people scrounged up nickels and dimes. People of this community put in money to build this magnificent place," Washack said. "Now it's like we don't exist, they just turn their backs and don't care."