HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Friends of Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke are calling out the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield again over decommissioning work at the hundred-year-old church on Maple Street.
This time, they said that the church’s stained glass windows have been removed illegally.
"We had no inkling that this was going to happen until we saw it happening earlier this week," said former parishioner and chair of Friends of Mater Dolorosa Victor Anop.
Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke has been slowly disassembled for the past few years, following the diosece's decision to close the church down.
Anop said that his fight to keep the church intact as a historical feature has grown more dire just this week.
"The stained-glass windows have recently been taken and now, you can see right through the church," Anop added.
The parishioners are upset with the fact that the church is now exposed to the elements. There are open spaces at the bottom of each window frame.
They also explained how the stained-glass is significant both to their religion as a whole and to the local Polish community .
"Those windows...there's people at the bottom of those windows. Those windows have initials on them. Special Polish people paid for those windows," said former parishioner Iwona Boruch.
Anop added, "The stained-glass window show the story of the Lord From The Exodus and all of the specific events...No building permit! No demolition permit!"
Western Mass News looked into the permits. According to the city's website, the demolition permit for the church expired in April.
In fact, the only permit still valid for the address is only good for plaster wall and tile.
The city's building comissioner, Damian Cote, was not availble for an interview, but said in a statement: "Removing any building elements within the scope of the building code, such as windows, does require a permit" and added that "This is an expired permit that will need to be renewed before the contractor can legally work on the structure."
Diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont said in a statement to Western Mass News:
"The scope of work which has been underway for many weeks at the former Mater Dolorosa Church has involved preserving significant items so that they might be repurposed, allowing the legacy of the former parish to live on through new use in active worshipping sites. We have also undertaken asbestos abatement consistent with our obligations and with full consent of city officials.All work is in compliance with the law and the parish community has been kept apprised."