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Small dioceses are also suffering from this crisis, and they are trying to be good stewards of their finances. Because they are holy places, dedicated to God and His saints, set apart for worship and the reception of the sacraments, paid for by the faithful, and honored as repositories of sacred and devotional art.

What the Modernists said about the ethnic churches in many of our cities and towns is often true: they were often not well built and not that beautiful.

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In America, where everything is portable, why not move historic churches from the old ethnic neighborhood out to the suburbs where there is a growing population?

Unless it is a small wooden chapel, this is a serious undertaking and is much more difficult than it sounds.

Well-known examples of this are the renovations of the former Los Angeles cathedral, Saint Vibiana, into a wedding and corporate event center, and of Saint John the Baptist Church in Pittsburgh into a brew pub.

Often when a sale is proposed, the overly pious are assured that all of the major artistic pieces will be removed, meaning altars, stained glass, and statuary.

They were put up quickly on low budgets by poor, uneducated immigrants.

Yet for many people these buildings seem like masterpieces in comparison to the worship spaces that we—wealthy, educated, and professional—have built over the past fifty years. Not to a Protestant congregation, which usually has limited funds, but to a developer who could retrofit it into some secular use, whether as condominiums, office space, or a community hall.The option most likely to succeed is to invite a religious order in to run the parish.Opus Dei, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, and the Institute of Christ the King have a track record in reviving dying parishes and restoring beautiful buildings and artwork.If the building is no longer slated for sacred purposes then it is better that it no longer exist.In many upper-income neighborhoods the church building itself is worthless and the property is more beneficial being “converted” to high-end condominiums.But what if the building is still beloved by people in the neighborhood, especially the faithful?

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