Church of St. Stephen to close

Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen Church on East 28th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen Church on East 28th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, parishioners at Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen, a Roman Catholic church on East 28th Street, learned that the church would be closed and parish merged as part of a plan by Cardinal Timothy Dolan to close and consolidate churches throughout New York State.

The plan, which the church’s own pastor, Father Robert Robbins only learned of on Friday, is designed to save money by having churches that merge share administrative and other costs.

While no plan to sell Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen has been announced, Dolan told the New York Times on Sunday, when speaking about the planned church closures in the city and upstate, that some may be sold. This church, meanwhile, is no stranger to money-saving mergers, having already been merged twice. The first time was back in the 1980s. St. Stephen’s, established in 1848, was merged with Our Lady of the Scapular in 1980s and the original Our Lady building has since been razed. Then, in 2007, the Archdiocese of New York announced that the Church of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus, which was located at 307 East 33rd Street, would be merged into Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen Church.

Once the current Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen church closes, which is expected to happen in August of 2015, services will be moved to Murray Hill’s Church of Our Savior at 59 Park Avenue and 38th Street. Robbins has already had administrative duties there for a while, bouncing back and forth between the two churches.

While his future has yet to be decided by the Archdiocese, the current shortage of clergy may work in his favor.

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