Trucks haul off church memories
By Steve Barnes
WATERVLIET — As twilight settled on Saturday night, workers from an Atlanta religious artifacts company trundled a pair of life-size statues from the former St. Patrick’s Church.
Through the gloom beneath the 137-foot bell tower, they looked to be Mary and Joseph, each holding a baby. Surrounded by the frame outline of crate, with the male statue wrapped partly in clear plastic film, the holy figures were rolled deep into the trailer of a full-size semi that was backed up to the front of the church.
The workers were from King Richard’s Liturgical Design & Contracting, which reclaims, restores and sells fixtures, furniture and decorative elements from decommissioned churches, said the foreman, who declined to give his name.
Kenneth Goldfarb, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, confirmed the company had been contracted by the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish of Watervliet, which controls the site, to remove items from the church. He said he did not know details of what had been sold to King Richard’s and referred questions to Immaculate Heart of Mary’s pastor, the Rev. L. Edward Deimeke, who could not be reached. The foreman for King Richard’s would not provide details of what was being loaded onto the semi and a box truck that was also backed up to the front of the church.
The church is being emptied prior to its planned demolition to make way for a Price Chopper supermarket and two smaller commercial buildings on the 3.5-acre site at 515 19th St. The rectory, school and six residences on the site are also slated to be razed.
After the diocese announced the $1 million sale to PCP Watervliet, an affiliate of the local developer Nigro Cos., and the City Council voted in November to rezone the property to allow the project to go forward, a grass-roots group called Citizens for St. Patrick’s sued to stop the sale.
On Dec. 31, state Supreme Court Justice Kimberly A. O’Connor rejected the suit, ruling that Citizens for St. Patrick’s, which opposes the demolition, had no standing to bring the case. Representatives of Citizens for St. Patrick’s could not be reached for comment Saturday night.
St. Patrick’s was among 33 worship sites closed under the diocese’s “Called to be Church” plan that dealt with shifting demographics and declining use of urban churches.