We all want to go home. Even when we leave and go to parts unknown, there is a longing to return to the place where we came from. We can return to our home in our hearts and minds, but it is never as satisfying as actually going home. St. Mary’s Church has been home for many generations for nearly two centuries. The impending closure of St. Mary’s Church has prompted many of us to think about what it means to have a relationship with a Sacred Place.

The place we call home is sacred for many reasons. St. Mary’s Church is a Sacred Place because it has always offered hope and comfort in a troubled and uncertain world. Those who have stood in this sacred place sought a port in the storm. Those who came here were not left rootless and wandering. Those who walked through the doors were not abandoned by God. They came home.

Many people have passed through these sacred doors. We can feel their prayers, their pleas for love, healing and salvation. Mothers wept here for their sons serving overseas, perhaps never to come home. Children prayed for their parents, the sick and the dying. This is a place that is greater than any one of us. This a place, where against all odds, we came to talk to God: Asking forgiveness, praying for strength, asking God to help us become better people, better than we ever thought we could be.

The very bones of this Church hold the stories of our humanity, our sacred history as one people of God. There are many stories here, the stories of those who were healed, the stories of those whose prayers were answered, and the stories of those who witnessed miraculous intervention at the courtyard shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One story told by Dr. Matel Hassan is her memory of 9/11 when terror reigned throughout America and we were all scared, not knowing where to turn. People in Yonkers thronged to St. Mary’s Church. People of all faiths gathered there and prayed. It is where their darkest fears were set aside and they feared no more.

There are as many ways to express yourself here before God as there are different types of faiths and belief systems. St. Mary’s Church is greater than just the Roman Catholic Church. St. Mary’s Church is greater than its priests in their colorful vestments, offering Mass in a cloud of incense. The Church serves more than cradle-to-grave Catholics who lay witness to Catholic baptisms, wedding and funerals. The Church is a beacon, a living testament, to God’s presence in the Yonkers community, in America, and in the world.

The American culture must be allowed to have buildings that signify reverence and tell the many stories of our history as a people. For generations many of us have felt our hearts beat here, embodying the place we can always return to, the place we call home, the place where miracles are performed, the place where we will always have hope. Let us pray that we will always be able to go home.


Editor’s Note: I’ve written four books about my hometown Yonkers. Three books are historical fiction. The Yonkers Trilogy is about the realities of growing up in working-class Yonkers. My nonfiction work The Death of a Library: An American Tragedy uncovers the true circumstances that led to the destruction of the Yonkers Carnegie Library.

St. Mary’s Church in Yonkers sits on a half acre of land with a commanding view of the Hudson River from its bell tower—a very valuable property for Real Estate Developers. I hope and pray that I will not have to write about the Archdiocese of New York selling St. Mary’s Church to make a tidy profit at the expense of the people of God.



Patricia Vaccarino

Patricia Vaccarino is an accomplished writer who has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, essays, speeches, web content, marketing collateral, and ten books.

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