Muslim Group Not Moving in to Staten Island Convent

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    FALLS CHURCH, VA - NOVEMBER 09: The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center is shown November 9, 2009 in Falls Church, Virginia. Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal M. Hasan attended the Washington, DC area mosque in 2001 and federal investigators are reported to be examining any links between Hasan and a former imam at the mosque who U.S. authorities say has become a supporter and leading promoter of al-Qaeda since leaving the United States. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    Leaders at a church in Staten Island have decided not to sell the parish's convent to a Islamic group.

    The Muslim American Society had planned to buy the property from the Saint Margaret Mary parish in Midland Beach and turn it into a mosque, but plans were stalled when many in the community vociferously opposed the sale.Trustees of the parish met Wednesday and voted not to sell.

    The Muslim American Society was informed of the vote, and local representatives did not return calls for comment Thursday.

    Mahdi Bray, executive director of the group's headquarters in Virginia told the Wall Street Journal, "They need a mosque on Staten Island, and we're determined to have one."

    Still, leaders at the Archdiocese of New York hope that this will not taint relations with the Muslim community in New York.

    Kate Monaghan, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York, issued a statement Thursday saying, “The Archdiocese of New York has enjoyed a good relationship with the Islamic community in the past and looks forward to continued dialog, friendship and understanding in the future.” 

    Father Keith Fennessy, leader of the parish in Midland Beach, initially supported selling the convent to the Muslim group and faced intense criticism when word got out of the plan. However, he recently retracted his position.

    In a May letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Fennessy wrote, “I have concluded that the contemplated sale would not serve the needs of the parish. As a result, as Pastor of Saint Margaret Mary Parish, I wish to formally withdraw my support for the sale, and request that it not take place.”