Two years ago our bishop closed 50 of our churches, most of them very old, ornate churches built by immigrants to this city many years ago. It left many parts of the city without churches and the parishioners were told to go to other churches, some too far for the people to get to. One parish in particular took their membership and priest and began worshiping in an old warehouse, but they were threatened with excommunication and the priest was defrocked. There was an Irish, Polish, Hungarian, and others that were closed. These parishes did a huge amount of outreach programs in their areas, some of the poorest in the city. That left the people with no church and no one who cared. It left a huge void in the city and there has been very hard feelings ever since. Thirteen of those parishes appealed the closings to the Vatican and guess what? Yesterday the Vatican ruled that they were closed in error and must be reopened. This is the first time in history that the Vatican ever did this and there is no precedent for how to reopen them. Needless to say the parishioners who appealed these closings are extremely happy with this decision and this is a good thing for our city. It was very sad to see these parishes closed over the past two years, padlocked, some sold and their artifacts auctioned off. Fortunately the thirteen parishes in questioned were frozen until the end of the case. This is just another example of what people can do when they feel strongly about something. It was an uphill battle all the way and no one expected the Vatican to overrule the decision. Hopefully this will help our city return to some of the vitality it had.