High rent may doom Catholic chapel that survived 9/11

2017-04-29 14:39
Smoke rising from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers, in New York City. (File, AP)

Smoke rising from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers, in New York City. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Parishioners at a New York City chapel that sheltered 9/11 first responders are praying for a miracle to save it from falling victim itself to the prosperity of its resurgent neighbourhood.

St Joseph's Chapel is living on archdiocese subsidies after the rent for the relatively small space tripled in 2014 to $264 000 a year.

Midday Mass

"If it should disappear and become a Gap or something — nothing against Gap, but it's really not OK," said Justine Cuccia, 55, a leader of the effort to save the tiny Roman Catholic chapel, part of the oldest Catholic parish in the state.

St Joseph's occupies ground-floor space in an apartment complex in Battery Park City, a community fewer than two blocks from the World Trade Centre. The chapel is a mission of St  Peter's Church a stone's throw away, where worshippers will be expected to go if St Joseph's closes.

Patricia Baumann, who attended midday Mass at St Joseph's last week, called the chapel "a special, meaningful place" where her children were baptised and had their first Holy Communions.

"I still hope that it will be here for my family," Baumann said. "But if not, then we'll go to St Peter's."

When the World Trade Centre fell, modest St Joseph's sat undamaged just outside the rubble zone.

Emergency workers and volunteers took out its pews and used the chapel as a command centre for several months. Priests celebrated Mass in a tent outside. Rescue workers slept on its floors.

St Joseph's was rededicated in 2005 as a memorial to those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks, with statues including St Florian, patron saint of firefighters, and St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police officers.

Luxury apartments

"Everything about the space is a 9/11 memorial," said Cuccia.

For the archdiocese, though, it is also a financial drain.

The chapel's rent spiked in 2014 from $80 000 in 2009 as new trade centre towers went up and developers competed to build luxury apartments and high-end stores in the area.

St Joseph's is the only Roman Catholic church in the New York Archdiocese that is a long-term renter, rather than owner, of its space, archdiocese spokespeerson Joseph Zwilling said.

Read more on:    9/11 attacks

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.