LOCKPORT — The lights of the steeple at St. Mary’s Church, which were to be turned on to mark Holy Thursday, were not lit Thursday night. And then they were.
About 20 former parishioners of the Lockport church, attended Holy Thursday Mass at St. Mary’s of Swormville. Some returned to Lockport before 9 p.m. and were disappointed to see the steeple was dark.
“I don’t know. They should be on today,” said Mayor Michael Tucker at about 9 p.m. The mayor had been told by Kevin Keenan of the Diocese that the lights would be turned on. Keenan also notified the Union-Sun that the lights would be turned on Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon, Rev. Joseph Vatter said the steeple lights would only be turned on for special occasions. He said the lights will be kept on during Holy Week and the months of May and October, and on special feasts.
Vatter said the decision to re-light the steeple was made by his parish at the advisement of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Keenan, reached late Thursday night said he was told that the lights were, in fact, turned on, but the lights on the side facing City Hall weren’t working properly. He added — as speculation — that it’s possible that with the lights not being entirely functional, a decision may have been made to turn them off until it was fixed.
Shortly after 10 p.m., however, it was noted that the lights were turned on. When and by who could not be discerned.
Vatter could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Earlier in the day, however, he gave every indication that the steeple would be lit for the evening. “It’s a new beginning. It was a parish decision.”
St. Mary’s, which was ordered to be merged into All Saints Parish at the St. Patrick’s site in 2007, closed on Aug. 31, 2011. All Saints, which also controls the St. Joseph’s Oratory site, made the decision to turn off the steeple lights at St. Mary’s.
The church on the Big Bridge is considered a city landmark. Tucker, who approached Kevin Keenan of the diocese on Tuesday, hoped that the lights would remain on for a long time.
Keenan called the decision to put on the lights a gesture of goodwill.
According to Vatter, since St. Mary’s closed, 42 of its families have joined All Saints. St. Mary’s appeal to remain open is still before the Vatican.
Vatter plans no regularly scheduled Sunday Masses at the St. Mary’s site. There will be wedding and funeral services.