As congregations fade and funds dwindle, the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes Queens, is in the midst of a reorganization that has so far collapsed six parishes, forcing them to pool resources with neighboring parishes, and closed two churches.
St. Edward in Fort Greene, said to be "falling apart", is one of those two. Following St. Edward's closure, the former parish of Sacred Heart and St. Edward has been merged with another parish.
St. Edward's former parishioners, chased by gentrification, are leaving Brooklyn.
The other closed church, Our Lady of Montserrate, is a modest red brick building in Bushwick whose parishioners have been absorbed by All Saints Church on Throop Avenue.
Brooklyn's traditionally Catholic populations, as they move out of the city, are being replaced by people who do not go to church, and by first-generation immigrants too poor to support the parish.
The diocese, looking at the intertwined demographics and financial trends when examining all of its 198 parishes during the reorganization, found that, between 1999 and 2009, 43,000 fewer people attended masses, shrinking parishes by 35%.
Catholics leaving Brooklyn during this period moved to the suburbs or down south.
By 2000, the diocese was forced to forgive its parishes and schools $119 million in debt. Since then, they have racked up another $21.8 million in debt, as the total assets of the diocese sunk by $111.6 million.
The root problem is a decline in giving by local parishioners, a key source of revenue for the diocese.
Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn Diocese, in a move regarded as a radical break with Catholic tradition, has triaged the poor parishes, refusing to carry them.
Had the church not decided, in 1957, to break off Nassau and Suffolk Counties into separate entities, leaving a completely urban Brooklyn diocese -- cut off from wealthy suburban Long Island -- that may not have happened.
As Catholic congregations retreat, the church is left with extensive real estate holdings and a growing inventory of closed churches, which some want to abandon in order to save money.
Some parishes are leasing land to secular institutions, like charter schools.