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Dozens Of Catholic Churches Hold Final Sunday Masses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dozens of Catholic churches in the New York City area have celebrated Sunday Mass for the final time.

The parishes are slated to be merged with others as part of a large reorganization by the Archdiocese of New York.

As CBS2's Ilana Gold reported, a special processional was held at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church on the Upper East Side, one of the churches holding their final Mass.

Some Catholic Churches Hold Final Sunday Masses

"It's sad for a lot of people" said Father Patrick McCale. "For me, it's just kind of getting through it, encouraging people to have hope."

St. Elizabeth is the only church in the archdiocese that offers masses in sign langugage, and deaf worshipers come from far and wide to attend.

"That's the most difficult of all -- we're dealing with people who don't understand why it's happening, and I can't explain why either," McCale said.

The church is slated to close and merge with St. Monica's. It's one of 31 parishes affected by the major reorganization because of financial issues. The archdiocese is hoping the move will lead to fewer but stronger churches.

"I'm depressed," one woman at the Church of Holy Rosary in East Harlem told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern. "I love this church. This is like a family church."

"The decisions were made for us, not by us," said another worshiper there. "But we talked to each other and we prayed. And so the majority of us, for now, will be going to Mount Carmel, and if it's God's will -- we were doing a lot of prayer -- for us to come back, we will be here."

Nearby at St. Lucy's Church, Monsignor Oscar Aquino was saying goodbye to his parishioners.

"We have to see brighter light because we always have to look at the future," he said.

At the Church of the Holy Agony in East Harlem, parishioners have been fighting to keep the doors open. And at the Church of the Nativity on the Lower East Side, they've appealed to the Vatican.

"We are working together," said parishioner Mercedes Sanchez. "We are being united, and thankfully we have a cannon lawyer who's guiding us about what we should be doing legally."

They're hoping Cardinal Timothy Dolan hears their pleas.

Dolan said he understand how difficult it is for parishioners, but said the diocese will function more efficiently.

"What I hope they understand deep down -- and I think they do -- that as important as a building is, that's not the church, and that everything they cherish there -- the Mass, the sacrament, the prayer, the community, the works of charity and love that they do -- that can now go on in a new structure."

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