To The Daily Sun,
I am not a resident of the City of Laconia, and I am not a Catholic. But since I have worked in the city for 40 years, I believe the razing of the St. Joseph’s Church would be an an utterly abominable and selfish act on the part of the Catholic Church as a whole, and the diocese of Manchester in particular.
I say so even though I have never been inside the building. The eminence and grandeur of the structure itself are a treasure to the downtown area and a tribute to the early 20th century architecture of our country as well as the Catholic faith community which constructed it. Its removal would create an open, gaping wound and be a tragic and unnecessary loss to the current generation of parishioners as well as the City as a whole.
It seems clear to me that, in their haste to reach a disposition of the property, the diocese never adequately consulted with the parishioners or the wider community. If they had, they would have gained an understanding of how this edifice is really a part of the soul of Laconia. Instead, the Diocese seems to have acted entirely selfishly.
It is a preposterous assertion to say that “it is absolutely necessary” to raze the structure because the diocese cannot trust that any future owners would not be able to protect the sanctity of the building. I believe it may be “absolutely necessary” because the diocese needs to maximize their profits from the sale by satisfying the conditions of the prospective buyers.
While of course it may be an enduring challenge, let the citizens of Laconia decide the future of the building. It seems to me there is already a base of support broad enough to buy the building, raise an endowment and manage the structure through a public trust. There would of course need to be an a suitable purpose identified — like maybe a Catholic museum. The Catholic Church itself could not only help with this endeavor but also benefit from it by the restoration and maintenance of its good name. Instead, like so much of our modern culture of waste in America, the Church has decided to consign this beautiful building to the trash heap — to let its gorgeous stone walls become fill. I am sickened by this prospect.