The Church of St. Veronica on Christopher Street is a Roman Catholic Church in West Village that was slated to close in July 2017. The parish was founded in 1887 to accommodate the increased number of Catholics in the area, which had caused the Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village to become overcrowded; it was one of 99 new parishes created by Archbishop Michael A. Corrigan between 1887 and 1902.
While visiting the church I signed a petition to be sent to the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and to the Vatican to keep St Veronica open as a church.
The magnificent exterior of St. Veronica’s is landmarked.
Due to declining attendance in recent years, St. Veronica merged with a nearby parish. Before closure just two masses were being held at the church on Sundays: one at 10 a.m., followed by a Spanish Mass at 11:30.
Former churchgoers and community members are still fighting to keep the space alive and meet weekly to discuss possible futures for the church remain a community space.
In his closing words at last mass held in July, Monsignor Kenneth Smith, who pastored St. Veronica’s from 1990 to 2001, spoke of the AIDS Memorial that was established at the church in 1991. Along the base of the first balcony are hundreds of small plaques bearing the names of those who died. At a time when many churches were insensitive to those who died of AIDS, Smith opened the church to interfaith services with, as he put it, “Protestants, Jews and those without religion that we might say prayer before carrying the ashes to the river.”
Monsignor Smith recalled the hundreds of 9/11 survivors fleeing up the West Side Highway entering St. Veronica’s to find rest and solace.
There is also talk of trying to save the church as at least a spiritual space of some sort.