By George Capsis
Oh wow! In the 15 years I have been producing WestView, we have never received such heartfelt support for an idea we proposed as we have for converting the now locked St. Veronica’s Church into a concert hall for classical music—including a plea from a locked-out parishioner.
We sent an elaborate proposal (inserted below) to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the Archbishop of New York but, unfortunately, he never read it. It must have gone to some assistant who thought we were parishioners trying to keep St. Veronica’s open. With numerous church closings in recent years (between 2014 and 2015, the number of parishes decreased by 20%), she drafted a version of the form letter typically sent to parishioners, to the effect of: “You don’t have enough people feeding the collection box to keep it open, sorry.”
I called back to try and explain to Kathleen, the Cardinal’s secretary, that he had answered the wrong letter. Flustered, she asked me to call Eileen Mulcahy, who might help. However, Eileen just began to repeat the catechism of: “We don’t have money to keep churches open.” I got a bit steamed and asked if we might rent or buy St. Veronica’s and she offered me the contact information of Ed Newman (I was saved).
“So Ed,” I began, “George Navarro said you were very helpful in getting him a lease in St. Veronica’s basement for his Flamenco dance studio.” “Send me the proposal,” he replied. We sent it to him and, this time, I know he will read it because his job is to rent and sell dead churches—and they have so many, so many…
So, we must rent, with an option to buy, St. Veronica’s if we want to turn it into the Carnegie Hall of the West Village.
I think this is a very nice idea. I mean, we have lost so much—so many famous restaurants and cafés, so much that made the Village ‘The Village.’ Now we have a chance to buy this mini cathedral and turn it into a concert hall that seniors can visit for free.
The West Village has acquired a few new billionaires recently and I am hoping that one of them reads this article, writes out a check, and sends it to 69 Charles Street.
His Eminence Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022
July 21, 2017
Your Holy Eminence,
“The thought of never being able to walk into that beautiful church again is heartbreaking.”
Memories live in locked churches. Our young, Catholic, educated intern recently arrived at the locked doors of St. Veronica’s Church. Knowing that a church is never closed, she tugged anxiously at the unyielding door. “The church is closed,” offered Nan, who had just drafted an article for Westview News on the shrinking New York City Catholic community. A woman had been poised to sit in the century-old church and open her inner self to release the sadness of her brother’s death that week.
“My brother told me about this church,” she said. “He was walking by and saw the name ‘St. Veronica.’ That is the name of our grandmother, so he went in and sat. Thinking of her…he began to cry uncontrollably—he never did that before. I wanted to come here and think about them both.”
In 15 years of publishing Westview News for 33,000 West Villagers, our newspaper has never received so many extraordinarily poignant and enthusiastic letters. Each letter earnestly endorses a community request that St. Veronica’s Church be opened for the performance of sacred and secular classical music. I have included some excerpts from those letters by members of the community who support this initiative.
“This is a wonderful idea to allow St. Veronica’s to be used as concert space.”
The creator and first conductor of the world-famous Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Michael Feldman, has offered his expertise and leadership to launch ‘Music at St. Veronica’s—St. Veronica’s Orchestra.’ In the 1970s, I obtained the initial funding to create the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Today, through The West Village Fund, I offer to provide the seed charitable support to fund the inaugural ‘Music at St. Veronica’s’ performance. Our team presents a formal proposal for your esteemed consideration on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York.
“The idea of opening this building to the community for music is absolutely brilliant.”
Your Eminence, St. Veronica’s need not close. It can keep its doors open by becoming a place to hear sacred and secular classical music and even continue services. It only needs your permission. We value your consideration.
Your Eminence, we wish to print your acceptance in the August issue of Westview News.
George Capsis, Founder
Westview News The West Village Fund
cc. Monsignor Gregory Mustaciuolo, Chancellor
cc. Mr. William Whiston, Chief Financial Officer