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Parishioners in 11-year vigil ask to reverse church closure

October 15, 2015

SCITUATE, Mass. (AP) — A group of Roman Catholic parishioners asked Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley on Thursday to reverse plans to close a church where they’ve mounted an 11-year, 24/7 vigil.

Members of Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini made their appeal a day after the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that they are trespassers and that the Boston Archdiocese may order them to leave.

The group, which members say numbers about 100, is considering legal options. A lawyer told the Boston Globe they could ask the Appeals Court or Supreme Judicial Court for a review.

“We’re disappointed. I can say there’s a lot of anger in this room,” vigil leader Jon Rogers said. “Everyone believes that this is self-centered. Indeed it is not.”

WBZ reports that parishioner Maryellen Rogers asked O’Malley to show mercy and meet with parishioners for a “fair, equitable and faithful resolution.”

In a statement Wednesday, archdiocese spokesman Terrence C. Donilon urged parishioners to support the decision and end the vigil.

Archdiocese officials did not immediately comment on the group’s statements.

The archdiocese closed the church in 2004 in a reorganization to confront a decline in Mass attendance and in donations following child abuse accusations and litigation. The parishioners have occupied the church since its closing, and the archdiocese sued in March to evict them.

The Appeals Court acknowledged the parishioners’ “heartfelt beliefs” that they are entitled to remain in the church. But it agreed with a lower court judge’s conclusion that they are trespassing.

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