St. Jeremiah Catholic Church in Framingham sold for $2 million

St. Jeremiah Catholic Church in Framingham, one of a handful of shuttered local parishes where congregants held long-running protest vigils, has been sold for $2 million, the Archdiocese of Boston announced today.

The church, rectory, land, and parking lot were sold to the small Indian Catholic community that has been using the church since 2008. The Syro-Malabar Eparchy, an Eastern Rite Catholic community from India, will establish a new parish with its roughly 150 local families.

But the parishioners of St. Jeremiah say they will try to block the sale by requesting an emergency restraining order next week from the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican, according to Mary Beth Carmody, a leader of the vigil. Parishioners argue that the sale will improperly strip the church of its Latin Rite tradition.

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“That’s a violation — a clear violation of canon law -– and you cannot do it,’’ Carmody said this afternoon.

The parishioners from St. Jeremiah sent Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley a letter on Aug. 3 that initiated another appeal to Rome, but the archdiocese never responded, Carmody said. Bishop Walter J. Edyvean met with vigil participants today and informed them that the sale had been finalized on Friday. Parishioners from St. Jeremiah described the encounter as an intense, 90-minute meeting in which the archdiocese outlined their plans. The $2 million will be used to support other parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston.

For the archdiocese, the sale marks the end of St. Jeremiah Parish, which existed for half a century and was the home church of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher killed in the 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. The parish was shuttered in 2005 as part of a wave of church closings.

In a statement issued by the archdiocese, Edyvean said that the sale will provide a much needed church for the Syro-Malabar parishioners. He also noted that O’Malley kept his word and did not move to sell church until parish closing appeals had been exhausted in Rome.

“With sincere pastoral concern for the former parishioners of St. Jeremiah’s, the Cardinal encourages all to join us in the work of healing and rebuilding the Archdiocese of Boston,’’ Edyvean said in the statement.

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But Syro-Malabar community has agreed to continue holding a Latin Rite Mass in English every Sunday for the former parishioners. Over the past few years, the parishioners from St. Jeremiah and their Indian counterparts have developed a symbiotic relationship. In addition to the English-language Mass, the church held a Communion service and potluck dinner on Saturdays and offered religious education to children.

The Syro-Malabar trace their roots to the apostle St. Thomas and have about 3 million members throughout the world, including roughly 100,000 in the United States, where their church is headquartered in suburban Chicago. The new parish established in the Framingham church will no longer be affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston, and instead will be a part of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago.

“We sincerely hope and pray that, with the opportunity presented through this transaction, the Holy Spirit will guide us to support key pastoral themes and vital ministries of the Archdiocese,’’ said the Rev. Varghese Naikomparambil of the Boston St. Thomas Syro-Malabar parish, in the statement issued by the Archdiocese of Boston.

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