NEW YORK – Six women who staged a sit-in at an East Harlem church, singing hymns in the back pews and praying for the New York Archdiocese to reverse a decision to shutter the parish, were led out of in handcuffs and cited for criminal trespass.
Our Lady Queen of Angels is set to close March 1 in a broad reorganization, prompting Monday's protest vigil.
"People have been baptized here and married here, received first communion here, been confirmed here," said Carmen Villegas, 52, a parishioner for 33 years who was among those arrested. "We're going to stay in prayer," she said.
Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said the decision to close certain parishes was not made lightly.
"Everyone had a chance to have their say as part of that process," he said.
Last month, the nation's second-largest archdiocese announced plans for realignment, closing 10 churches where services are poorly attended and merging 11 more with other parishes.