Recently, Michael Malkush, president of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council said that the church, the CNS Historical Council, the community and the town were all on the same page, hoping to explore ways to preserve the historic buildings and also consider possible adaptive uses for an eventual sale.
Despite some speculation, Malkash said there was absolutely no truth to an absolutely untrue online post from an individual who rumored that a drug rehab was coming to Sacred Heart.
"We have been working very hard with the church, town and the community to preserve and help find adaptive uses for the church. A drug rehab center is not one of it. Furthermore, there is a school next door. I spoke with church and town officials along with other members of our Save Sacred Heart Committee and that will never happen," he said.
According to Zach Studenroth, director of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council and the co-chairman and spokesperson for the Save the Sacred Heart Church committee, he would characterize Sacred Heart as a "developing story."
Studenroth said the committee is working toward a positive outcome in the future. "There will certainly be at least one more milestone here," he said.
In June, a representative for the Diocese of Rockville Centre said evaluation, with no definite plans for Sacred Heart, was ongoing.
“The Diocese is not aware of any definitive plans for any buildings on the Sacred Heart parish campus. The parish, along with the Diocese, continues to evaluate the best use of all of its resources for its parishioners,” said Sean P. Dolan, spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, after a number of requests from Patch about the future of the church, rectory, and convent.
The Sacred Heart Church, closed since December, 2012, as well as the rectory and carriage house, is one of seven properties listed as 'endangered' by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, was built in the late 1870s.
Despite a sit-in by some parishoners to keep church services going at the Roman Catholic worship house, was ultimately considered too much of a danger to keep open.
“The interior walls are detaching from the studs,” Deacon Jeff Sykes told Patch shortly after the parish held its final mass. “This is due to years of water damage leaking into the church — the foundation bricks are collapsing and the cross beams are rotted. We cannot guarantee the safety of the church.”
Repairs have been estimated to be as much as $2 million – though some churchgoers, hoping to keep it open, have doubted those numbers.
But despite worries from some church members that the Roman Catholic Diocese has plans to tear down the structure — a true landmark of downtown Cutchogue — Sykes said that is not the case.
“The Diocese is reactive, not proactive,” Sykes said. “The decision to close had to be made by us, the parish, not them. The plan was to close the doors, and we are not sure of future plans, but to say that we plan to tear it down is totally inaccurate.”
Lynn McCaffery Stevens, one of the protest organizers with deep ties to Sacred Heart, said earlier this year that she still had her doubts about the motivation behind the closure.
“Once it’s closed, what is to stop them from tearing it down?” she said.
Do you think a decision about the parish should be made sooner than later? Share your thoughts with Patch.