A church community in Sudbury, Massachusetts, is coming together to hold an around-the-clock vigil after the Archdiocese of Boston ordered their parish to close.
Parishioners at Saint Anselm Roman Catholic Church decided to conduct a 24/7 vigil after the diocese ordered it to close by Oct. 3, citing that the church has seen low attendance during mass, has been hemorrhaging funds and can longer be financially supported by the diocese.
“There are certain parishes that are in debt and do require financial support from the archdiocese. This parish is not one of those. We are financially stable,” longtime parishioner Jamie Hanson said. “We are not hemorrhaging. Period."
Hanson, who has attended the church for over 20 years, says St. Anselm's is financially independent and growing.
"Not a penny has come from the archdiocese," he said. "So for them to say that they cannot no longer support us, they have never supported us financially. In fact, we’ve supported the archdiocese with a significant amount of money.”
"They have never owed the diocese a nickel," added Bryon Deysher. "And they are a good community...and they're going to go into vigil, and we're all behind them...24/7 vigil, seven days a week."
While the prayer services are socially distant, church members say they are spiritually connected.
“This is like family. People have known each other for 40, 50, 30 years," one woman said. "Their children have grown up here. You know everybody’s story. You know everybody’s name...and you need anything, this community is there for you.”
With a steady stream of donations, the members plan to stand their ground. They say they are prepared to host for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not leaving until their church is saved.
“How many people do you know who will do what we’re doing?," one parishioner asked. "Stay in a church, 24/7...last time 21 months...don’t you want those people on your team?”
This isn't the first time the archdiocese has been at odds with parishioners over the fate of the church.
In 2004, the archdiocese attempted to close down St. Anselm's, but a rotating group of church members stayed inside the church for nearly two years until parishioners prevailed.