The Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese is disputing claims of deplorable condition inside St. Anthony’s in Monongahela, after 30 parishioners chose to spend the night in the shutdown church.
Channel 11 News was there as the last of the people who stayed overnight emerged.
“It was not comfortable. No food, water, heat. It was freezing while we were trying to sleep. We found jackets in the closets,” said parishioner Elizabeth Anthony.
Father Ron Langwin disputes that claim and said there was heat and water.
“To say that you went into the church, and the purpose was not a demonstration, but it was a prayer vigil and then you come out saying the kinds of things you do, you have to wonder if it really was a prayer vigil,” Langwin said.
“The doors are locked, and they are allowed to stay. I will not drag anyone out of a church but once they leave, they aren’t allowed back in,” said Police Chief Brian Tempist.
St. Anthony’s is merging with the town’s other Catholic church. Diocese officials said the other church is more visible and easier for the elderly to access.
“I talked to a gentleman, and he said, ‘I’ve been married 41 years. Today is my anniversary. I was married in this church,’” said Tempist.