The closing of Sacred Heart Church in the Vailsburg section of Newark on July 1, 2010, was surrounded by controversy. Parishioners were upset, mostly because they felt that a better attempt should have been made to save the sacred building.
Now, seven months after the closing of the church, one person who used to attend the parish on a weekly basis is making an attempt to salvage one of the artifacts it housed.
A Saint Patrick statue that once called Sacred Heart its home is now located at Cryan’s Beef & Ale House in South Orange.
Jimmy Cryan, owner of the popular bar, regularly celebrated mass at Sacred Heart.
“That was my Church, my parish,” Cryan said.
However, similar to the closing of its church, the statue landing in Cryan’s has also caused controversy.
“After the articles were in the paper (about the statue at Cryan’s), the diocese reached out to me,” Cryan said.
“They had to; they got a lot of heat over this. All of the controversy about Sacred Heart was starting up again.”
The main controversy surrounding the statue is that it is uncommon for a sacred item to end up anywhere but at another church.
Jim Goodness, director of Communications of the Archdiocese of Newark, told NJ.com it was expected that the statue was destined for somewhere such as a private home – not a restaurant.
“I’ve been getting phone calls and e-mails from people all over the world,” Cryan said. “Even the President of Ireland is talking about it.”
Because of the controversy, Cryan has worked with members of the Archdiocese of Newark to find a solution.
“If the agreement with the archdiocese does work, it’s going to go to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery and Mausoleum up in East Hanover,” Cryan said.
The Gate of Heaven Cemetery and Mausoleum has provided the final resting place for over one million Catholics, according to its website.
Cryan also said once the statue is in its new home, it is supposed to be blessed and dedicated to the parishioners of Sacred Heart in a ceremony.
The Saint Patrick’s statue will not be the only artifact moving to East Hanover.
Stained glass that was once at Sacred Heart will be getting moved to three Catholic cemeteries in the state; Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum in North Arlington, Maryrest Cemetery and Mausoleum in Mahwah, and Gate of Heaven, according to Andrew Schafer, executive director of Catholic Cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Newark
“Lots of old Sacred Heart parishioners go to Gate of Heaven in East Hanover,” Schafer said.
According to Schafer, the statue is going to be taken out of Cryan’s sometime after Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17.
The process to fully restore the stained glass that will be moving with the statue will be a lengthy one, according to Schafer.
The method of restoring the glass involves taking it apart, shipping them in crates to the restoration house and, depending on the condition the glass is in, some pieces might have to undergo releading, according to Schafer.
Schafer did say, however, the Diocese is “almost done” removing the glass.
According to both Goodness and an employee at Cryan’s Beef & Ale House, the St. Patrick’s statue that has caused all of this controversy was donated to Sacred Heart by Jimmy Cryan’s father.
Goodness told The Setonian that a deceased member of the Cryan family is buried at Gate of Heaven.
Despite all of the controversy surrounding both the statue and the Cryan family, all parties involved believe “many families are happy it is going to Gate of Heaven Cemetery and Mausoleum.”
“Everybody seems it is a fitting place for the statue to rest permanently,” Goodness said.
Nicholas Parco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.