We recently learned of the Archdiocese plan to stop offering Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace chapel in Orangeburg as of September 1, 2013, and we are aware that the NYS Office of Mental Health will cut utility connections to this building in the event it becomes vacant. The building is old and will fall into disrepair quickly without regular maintenance and heating. The Chapel is a fairly large complex including a library, a social hall, classrooms, an apartment and offices. The bell tower provides music that is heard throughout the campus. The church itself contains beautiful stained glass and wooden statues. These were made from glass and wood rescued from churches in Europe that were later destroyed by WW II bombings.
We write to express our grave concern for the fate of this church and for the many families and support groups who use the church and who have invested so much in building a community around this church. We understand and respect the decision of the Archdiocese, conveyed during a recent meeting between Monsignor Nevin and Supervisor Stewart, to end Mass at this church as of September 1, for reasons relating to the Archdiocese’s strategic plan. We do believe, however, that the Archdiocese should seriously consider delaying by one year its closing of this church, for the simple reason that the town is currently working with NYS Office of Mental Health and Empire State Development Corp for the overall redevelopment of vacant lands owned by the town surrounding the church, as well as NYS owned lands that will be “surplussed” as a part of the Office of Mental Health’s own planning process. With so much change on the horizon for the land around the church, perhaps the decision to close on September 1, 2013 will appear to have been premature a year from now.
Andy Stewart, Orangetown Supervisor
Members of the Orangetown Town Council,
Paul ValentineTom Diviny