FRAMINGHAM (CBS) – Parishioners protesting the closing and sale of St. Jeremiah’s church in Framingham have been locked out.
Friday they found out their keys didn’t work and all the locks had been changed.
“I was driving by around noontime and noticed that there was a locksmith van in front of the church,” said Jackie Lemmerhirt, co-chairman of the parish appeals committee. “We’re locked out of the church we built.”
The Boston Archdiocese closed the church in 2004. Since then parishioners have been holding protest vigils inside the building. The building was sold for $2 million last month to the Syro-Malabar diocese, a part of the Eastern Catholic church.
The two congregations currently share the space, but St. Jeremiah’s parishioners are blaming the Boston Archdiocese for taking away the keys.
“They’re [Boston Archdiocese] influencing behind the scenes the Syro-Malabar community and how they should treat us,” said Lemmerhirt.
A spokesperson for the Boston Archdiocese said since they do not own the church anymore the decision must’ve been made by the Syro-Malabar diocese.
A representative for the Syro-Malabar congregation said the Boston Archdiocese did not force them to change the locks and that they independently chose to for liability reasons.
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports
It’s a story St. Jeremiah’s parishioners still don’t believe.
Regular services and religious education for St. Jeremiah’s members will still be held in the church but plans for other organized prayer times and protest vigils are upended.
Members say they have an appeal to the Vatican to void the sale of the church. As far as the lock change, it may keep them out but it won’t keep them silent.
“What is so amazing about our community is every time we get a new obstacle everyone is re-energized and more committed to going on with the fight,” said Mary Beth Carmody, a St. Jeremiah’s parishioner. “We refuse to go quietly.”