Save Our Lady of Vilnius (and Our Office View)!

Our Lady of Vilnius.
Our view. Photo: Jed Egan

Perhaps you, Intel reader, work in an office.  Perhaps sometimes, as much as you might love your job, you stare at the taupe walls of your cubicle, the industrial white paint on the walls, and your standard-issue Dell desktop and think about how it’s all a little soul-crushing. Just fluorescent lights and vaguely tacky carpeting, day after day after day, until you eventually die or possibly marry rich or get a job somewhere like Google or the Barneys window-design department. But maybe there is one bright spot in your Office Modern visual palette: a window with sunlight, and a view that  you have come to treasure.

Outside our windows here at New York HQ, our view is a jumble of billboards for storage services, sturdy city trees, glassy Soho high-rises, and cars headed for the Holland Tunnel. But also, unexpectedly and charmingly situated  in the middle of all that bustling 2011-ness, there’s a modest sand-and-weathered-copper church, Our Lady of Vilnius. It has survived assaults from Hellboy and other assorted demonic beings, but now Vilnius faces Judaslike betrayal from a trusted authority: the Archdiocese of New York.

The church, which was built a century or so ago by Lithuanian immigrants, was closed in 2007 by the archdiocese, along with other low-attendance parishes, as a cost-saving measure. Vilnius apparently has a roof that would cost a bundle to fix.  But the Vilnius community — which now includes more recent waves of immigrants from places like Portugal and the Philippines — turned out to be more vibrant than expected. Parishioners met on the steps of St. Patrick’s cathedral to pray every week. They also appealed the decision, first to the church and then, when that didn’t work, in New York civil court. But the court ruled that the church is acting perfectly within its rights, and that it is allowed to demolish St. Vilnius, surely to be replaced by something interchangeable-looking and unremarkable. Probably, like, a Chipotle and a nail salon. To which we say: noooooooooo! Save Vilnius! Not only are Vilnius’s parishioners displaying the sort of remarkable commitment to a communal celebration of faith that nice Catholic girl Intel Noreen was given to understand is at the very core of the religion, they’re also the sort of tribelike, anchoring micro-community that is at the very core of New York City.

Save Our Lady of Vilnius (and Our Office View)!