Underdog church vows to fight closure order

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2014) — Like David facing off against Goliath in the Old Testament, attendees of a near east side Catholic church have pledged to fight a decision by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to shut the doors of the century old congregation by the end of the year.

“As a Catholic I am disappointed that the Church continues to close churches in poor neighborhoods,” said parishioner Phyllis Manfredi fight back tears outside of Church of Holy Cross on the corner of Oriental and Ohio Streets. “I want Catholics all over to stand up and say, ‘No more! Let’s quit closing these churches!’”

Holy Cross, Holy Trinity and St. Bernadette have all been targeted for closure.

“Holy Cross…is in need of significant structural repairs,” wrote Archbishop Joseph Tobin in a message to the congregation. “There is no reserve funding available.”

The Archbishop also indicated that there didn’t appear to be any parish growth on the horizon that could fund such seven-figure repairs and that there was potential for a collaborative ministry between Holy Cross and St. Philip Neri Parish.

“It shouldn’t be about money,” said Madonna Sullivan Brothers who drives up from south of Greenwood every Sunday for services. “It should be about reaching out to the people in need.”

Holy Cross is nestled into a neighborhood that is bouncing back. While it is bordered by East Washington Street and its transient homeless population, the community has also benefitted from the Super Bowl Legacy Project at Arsenal Technical High School, new retail and housing on East Tenth Street and stabilization of existing homes.

“This area is growing,” said Manfredi. “It doesn’t make sense to close a church in an area that is growing. There are Catholic churches out there who have more, and I say God bless them. We need to reach out to those churches and say, ‘Help us. Help our church. Help the churches that are closing.’”

Father Chris Wadelton told a town hall meeting after morning services that the Archdiocese is holding out hope that the Holy Cross school will remain open and the sanctuary could still be used for weddings, funerals and baptisms.

“I came here since I was four years old,” said 8th grader Autumn Penoi, “and it became a part of me. This is like my second family here.

“I think if this church goes down, the community will go down also.”

The parishioners of the underdog church in the underdog neighborhood said they still have some fight in them.

“It’s what we do,” said Manfredi. “It’s who we are. It’s how we give back. It’s how we care. That’s what Holy Cross is. That’s what it means. I will not roll over and play dead as a Catholic.”