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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Diocese of Albany marks beginning of Lent with church closures

On eve of Lent, some final Masses -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

Nothing is scheduled but the 162-year-old church's final Mass, and no one here needs a reminder.

As Christians around the globe prepare for Lent — a solemn 40-day period of repentance leading up to Easter when, Scripture says, Jesus rose from the dead — scores of the faithful across the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese are preparing to celebrate one of their most holy days in a church other than their own.

"You see Resurrection at the end of Lent, and I think the problem here is that we don't see resurrection at the end of this," said Michael Schweigert, 60, of Guilderland. His suburban church isn't closing, but he spent the morning photographing St. Bernard's soaring stained glass windows and stations of the cross imported from Europe in the 19th century.

St. Bernard's is one of seven parishes, three in Cohoes alone, slated to officially close Wednesday as part of the 14-county diocese's consolidation plan in response to a shortage of priests and declining church membership in cities.

Wednesday also marks Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

The timing, according to diocesan spokesman Kenneth Goldfarb, is purely coincidental. All seven churches will hold their final services this weekend and remain open until Wednesday only for administrative functions, if at all, Goldfarb said.
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