Saturday protest planned over Cutchogue church closing

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Sacred Heart Church in Cutchogue
Several Cutchogue students are spreading the word through social media sites of a “sit-in” they’re planning for Saturday morning to protest the closing this month of the Sacred Heart Catholic church on Main Road.

The students will stage an extemporaneous demonstration following a special Mass in a heated tent on the lawn in front of the circa-1870s building. The parish and the Diocese of Rockville Centre say the church building is in an advanced stage of disrepair would require an investment of $2 million to meet current safety codes. It is to be permanently closed at the end of the month.

“They don’t want to cause trouble, but they do want to be heard,” said Lynn McCaffery Stevens, whose daughter, Caralee, 16, a Mattituck High School tenth grader, is one of the protest’s organizers. “Their concern is once it’s closed, what do you do with an empty building? The fear is it will be torn down. The kids walk by it, they ride their bikes by it. It’s not just a church. They see the building as part of the character of the community.

The students are asking people to bring old photos and share their memories of Sacred Heart.

The parish has said there are no plans at present to tear down the old church, and that it’s future remains uncertain.

The church’s final Mass at 9 a.m. Saturday will be outside, but afterwards the building, which is decorated for Christmas, will be open to visitors.