Holyoke’s Mater Dolorosa Church at risk for demolition

Former parishioners want the church preserved

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a long contested question: should state funding go towards places of worship?

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will soon decide if centuries-old churches can be excluded from historic preservation grants.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State wants to prevent the eastern Massachusetts town of Acton from spending taxpayer funds to support two local churches.

But Acton is pushing back. The town believes that historic Massachusetts churches should receive equal treatment.

Clock is ticking on Mater Dolorosa future with planned fall demolition

But the state already has laws that preserve historic landmarks, regardless of religious leanings.

“I think there should be a separation,” said Kenneth Harrison of West Hartford, CT told 22News. “I don’t think the state funds should be used for any one particular religious group.”

Here in western Massachusetts, there’s been escalating conflict between the Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke and the Springfield Catholic Diocese.

Former parishioners want the church preserved. But the diocese wants it demolished due to structural safety concerns.

Under the Community Preservation Act, Massachusetts gives state funding both religious and non-religious buildings.

“Why shouldn’t we put CPA money into fixing a church or any other building that has historical significance in the city of Holyoke?” Victor Anop, Chairman of the Friends of Mater Dolorosa asked.

Massachusetts highest court will hear the case on September 7.