Congregants at NYC Church for Deaf Fight to Keep It Open

A New York City church geared toward deaf worshipers is slated to close in eight months as part of a series of mergers and closures by the Archdiocese, but the community is desperately hoping to keep it open.

St. Elizabeth's Church on the Upper East Side not only offers specific masses dedicated to the deaf, but offers fellowship meals, a choir, counseling and even community games like Bingo.

"This is a family here," said parishioner Margaret Arnold of Gramercy. "We are all together." 

St. Elizabeth's, on East 83rd Street and Third Avenue, is slated to merge with another nearby church, which would leave its current building empty. But congregants are taking to social media and aggressively petitioning not only the New York Archdiocese but the Vatican to keep it open. 

"We don't owe any money to the Archdiocese, we have ample reserves to cover emergencies," said parishioner Kal Chany. "Our building is in very good shape." 

"We are still hopeful the decision will be changed," he added. 

Arnold, with help from Pastor Patrick McCahill, explained how she felt knowing her church is scheduled to close in less than eight months. 

"Go to another church, we're going to sit there and cry. There's no one to talk to me. There's nothing there," she said. 

The Archdiocese said it is committed to working with the deaf community and to find them a home that best fits their needs, as well as to training more priests and seminarians to be able to sign mass. 

McCahill said, "My hope is what has been going on here for three decades will be allowed to continue. Is it a miracle? It means grace had touched people who are only looking at numbers." 

Arnold hopes St. Elizabeth's will remain open and prays the Vatican will hear her plea.

"I hope they realize that this church is special to deaf people," she said. "It's the right place for the deaf community here."

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