Emotions are running high in Maybrook, where the local Catholic Church is due to close in less than two months
That was evident last week, when it was learned that the Village of Maybrook Department of Public Works would no longer be providing snow plowing services for the parking lot of the Church of the Assumption, something it had done for many years. The final mass is scheduled to take place at the Maybrook Church on January 8, 2023, with the Assumption Parish having merged with the Holy Name of Mary Parish in Montgomery several years ago.
Father Matthew Reiman, pastor of Holy Name of Mary/Assumption Parish and Mayor Dennis K. Leahy addressed the matter in separate emails last week.
“For many years, the village of Maybrook has taken care of the snow plowing at Assumption Church. They only charged us a nominal fee, with the understanding that Assumption Church would serve as an emergency evacuation site for the Maybrook Alternative Learning Center, which serves special needs students,” Reiman wrote in an email to parishioners.
“This year, after not receiving the usual contract, and not hearing anything about it from civic authorities, we inquired about it.
“This morning we received distressing news. Some members of the village board and community objected to continuing this arrangement due to being upset about the impending change of all Masses taking place at Holy Name of Mary in Montgomery starting on Sunday January 15. It was decided to therefore not hold a vote, essentially ending the long-standing arrangement.
“As your pastor, I want to assure you that these regrettable actions by some individuals will not impact our serving as an evacuation site for the children. They need a safe place to go in case of an emergency. The spiteful actions of a few should not impact these children. “
The pastor said the church’s already stretched budget would have to accommodate snow plowing all winter at the Maybrook location. He asked parishioners to be generous in the collections this winter.
“My fervent hope is that hardened hearts will soften and that this situation will resolve,” Reiman wrote. “Until then, please keep this in mind when considering your gifts to the parish.”
Leahy said the village entered into a lease agreement with the Church of the Assumption many years ago, subject to Village Board approval on a yearly basis, with the most recent lease expiring on October 31 of this year. He said the village would plow the parking lot at a rate of $750 per year on the condition that the Village would be permitted to use and occupy the meeting room under the stone church, built in 1913 and the entire church hall (where Masses have currently been held) on the premises for the use as an emergency shelter during any States of Emergency declared by the Village of Maybrook, the County of Orange and/or the State of New York.
“In fairness, this Lease Agreement has been offered to the Maybrook Methodist Church and the Regular Peoples Baptist Church,” Leahy said. “Both have declined the offer.”
Leahy said a representative of the church contacted Village Clerk Tina Johnson on Nov. 15 to request a new contract.
“I instructed Ms. Johnson to inform her that there are a few Village Board Members who are dissatisfied with the closing of the church, and I did not want to throw gasoline on the fire by bringing this up for a vote,” Leahy said. “There is already a divide, and it would be best if the Village and Church went our separate ways since the Church was going to close its doors after January 8, 2023.”
Leahy also said there are three other emergency shelters to use in the Village, the Maybrook Fire House, the Maybrook Senior Center, the Maybrook Government Center, and the other Churches would open their doors if there was ever a need.
“I am shocked and appalled that Father Reiman would use the children of the community as a shield for his agenda,” Leahy wrote in a letter addressed to the Parishioners of the Church of the Assumption and the Holy Name of Mary. “The Lease Agreement had nothing to do with denying the children of this village’s safety in the event of an emergency. There were absolutely no ‘spiteful actions’ on the Village’s part.”