Is the Archdiocese Letting St. Veronica’s Fall Apart?

By Arthur Schwartz

St Veronica’s Church. Photo courtesy of Village Preservation.

One of the most iconic structures in the West Village is St. Veronica’s Church, which is part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Located at 153 Christopher Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets, the parish was established in 1887, and the church was built between 1890 and 1903. It is within the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Greenwich Village Historic District Extension I, which was designated in 2006.

On Sunday, June 25, 2017, the St. Veronica’s held its last official services. Parishioners were expected to attend Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard’s on West 14th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues (which is now for sale).

From November 2017 through November 2018 the Westview News sponsored monthly classical concerts in St. Veronica’s which filled the pews. For a time, there was a plan by Steve Witkoff, Sarah Jessica Parker, Arthur Schwartz and George Capsis to buy the church and turn it into a cultural center, a plan which died with the concerts. Then, a group of parishioners rallied to have the church reopened, taking the cause all the way to the Vatican. On July 2, 2020, the Decree of Closure was rescinded by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, after it appeared that the Vatican’s verdict might support the parishioners’ case.

Little has happened since then and the roof has started to leak. The Save Saint Veronica’s Committee has continued to gather in front of the church every Sunday at 1 p.m. for over five years to recite the Rosary with the prayerful intention to fully reopen the church. On September 23, Village View got this email from Vincent Orgo from the Committee:

Dear Media Contacts:

After refusing donation of finances for needed roof repairs a year ago claiming that it wasn’t enough to make a dent, the Archdiocese Parish coordinator on 8/24/2024 subsequently also refused efforts by Landmarks Preservation to provide an expert architectural assessment of the damage to help keep the cost low.  Her response was that the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe/ St. Veronica’s was in the process of having the roof repaired as it is “their responsibility.”  To this day there is no evidence of repair companies on the site and there is no record of an NYC work permit.   This is obviously still an attempt to let the damage of the landmark Church deteriorate to the point of building condemnation with the goal of property sale.

Thank you for spreading information regarding this injustice to the public!  The history of injustice regarding the Church closure may also be found below.

1980s – St. Veronica’s and St. Bernard’s were combined thereby saving St Bernard’s.

1992 – The AIDS memorial was created at St. Veronica’s since it was the only church opening its arms to victims of the disease in the early days as Jesus Christ would.  St. Mother Teresa came to St. Veronica’s to initiate care and hospice in the old rectory with her Missionaries of Charity which exists to this day.

1990s – Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was added to the combination and the pastor at the time focused strictly on the Mexican community at St. Bernard’s eliminating all sacraments [weddings, funerals, etc.] and cutting down number of Masses at St. Veronica’s pushing parishioners away.  

2017 -The pastor then closed St. Veronica’s with virtually no notice.   These sabotages were the reasons the Vatican court ordered St. Veronica’s to reopen.  The pastor was later replaced for irritating the Archdiocese for many reasons and the Archdiocese sent him back to Mexico.

2020 – St. Veronica’s was declared and re-sanctified as a church. The Church was ordered to be reopened and the Archdiocese agreed via decree  7/2020

202XX –  Only a very few Masses were then granted and now the Vatican order has been cast aside for every request for Masses [including required special anniversaries] this year. This also includes opening for silent prayer.

TODAY- The archdiocese is in complete violation and is ignoring Vatican orders.

The Landmark Conservancy was willing to assist in restoring St. Veronica’s [a designated Landmark building] including the ongoing leak in the roof which continues to cause damage.  Father Jesus, the current pastor, flatly refused the financial assistance obviously under the direction of the Archdiocese.  

We need your assistance given all of these injustices and I will personally continue to update you if and when I receive further information.

Best Regards,

2017 West Village Fund Concert. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.