South Jersey church to reopen after months-long vigil

Saint Mary’s of Malaga, Gloucester County, got the news in 2008 that its doors would eventually close–that it would merge with two other parishes. When the boiler broke in late last year, it was shut early–before the merger was complete. Now that the parishes have merged, Peter Feuerherd, spokesman for the Diocese of Camden said, St Mary’s will reopen–sort of. “It is not going to be used for regular Sunday Mass,” said Feuerherd. “It will be used for weddings and other devotional functions.” “We’re grateful for it,” said Leah Vassallo, spokeswoman for the ‘Save Saint Mary’s’ group. “But to us, without a weekend Mass it’s really only a partial success.”Back when Saint Mary’s closed, parishoners found a way into the locked church and started a vigil.  At least one person has remained on the premises, 24 hours per day, for the last eight months. “At this point,” said Vassallo, “there’s a certain lack of trust that the diocese is actually going to do what they say they are going to do.” Father Allain Caparas is the priest of the new parish containing Saint Mary’s.  “I really hope that we can set the past aside and come together as a new parish, work together, and most importantly to be able to pray together,” he said.  At least for now, Vassallo says, the vigil continues.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.