The last appeal available to parishioners holding vigil at the long-shuttered St. James the Great Church in Wellesley was filed Wednesday and hand-delivered Thursday to Vatican officials, according to Suzanne Hurley, a spokeswoman for the parishioners.
The appeal, to the highest court of the Vatican, asks that the deconsecration of St. James be reversed. Deconsecration turns a house of religious worship into a secular building.
St. James was closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004 and deconsecrated last July. The parishioners have appealed the closing of the parish and lost. They have also lost an appeal to a lower court in the Vatican to reverse the deconsecration.
Peter Borre, who heads the Council of Parishes, a Boston-based group that advises parishioner groups fighting to reopen churches, said he'd spoken to the parishioners' lawyer in Rome, and confirmed that the appeal had been officially filed.
A spokesman for the archdiocese said he had not heard that the appeal had been filed.
"We will respect the appeals process as we have from the beginning," said Terry Donilon, Archdiocesan Secretary for Communications, in an email. "Our goal from day one has been a peaceful and prayerful conclusion to the vigils. We remain committed to healing and rebuilding the Archdiocese of Boston."
The town of Wellesley has signed a purchase and sale agreement with the archdiocese to buy the St. James property for $3.8 million. The purchase and sale requires that the town demolish the church and rectory within a year of the sale’s closing.
The sale is dependent on the conclusion of the canonical appeal process. The appeal filed on Wednesday is the parishioner’s last chance. If they lose, they will be forced to leave the church.
The town hopes to turn the 8-acre site on Route 9 into a recreational complex. The purchase of the land is dependent on Special Town Meeting approval. A Special Town Meeting has been scheduled for June 13.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org