Updated:MONONGAHELA, Pa. —
Parishioners of a Washington County Catholic church that is set to close held an overnight vigil Saturday to protest the closure.
More than two dozen people stayed inside the church after its final Mass on Saturday to pray for a changed fate for St. Anthony Church in Monongahela.
“The doors are locked. They’re allowed to stay. I will not drag anyone out of a church, but once they leave they're not going to be able to go back in,” Monongahela Police Chief Brian Tempest said on Saturday.
The final three parishioners who had participated in the demonstration left the church late Sunday morning, having spent the night in the church.
“It was not comfortable. They did not give us any food. They didn’t give us any water, heat. I was freezing while I was trying to sleep,” said Elizabeth Anthony.
The closure of St. Anthony was announced in March by Bishop David Zubik, who said the decision was based on declining membership and financial concerns.
St. Anthony will merge with St. Damien of Molokai, also in Monongahela.
Parishioners told Channel 11 that they have not given up on keeping St. Anthony open and have appealed the diocese’s decision.
A candlelight ceremony is planned for Sunday at 7:30 p.m.