Skyrocketing Rent May Force Chapel That Became ‘Focal Point For Hope’ After 9/11 To Close | TODAY


>>>WHEN TERRORISTS ATTACKED THE WORLD TRADE CENTER ON SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001, THEY TURNED LOWER MANHATTAN INTO APOCALYPTIC WORLD OF DESTRUCTION. BUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHAOS OF THAT TERRIBLE DAY STOOD THE NEIGHBORHOOD’S CHURCHES, PROVIDING HAVEN FOR THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO WOULD SPEND MONTHS AT GROUND ZERO. NOW, NEARLY 16 YEARS LATER, ONE OF THOSE CHAPELS MAY BE FORCED TO CLOSE FOR GOOD. DYLAN HAS OUR “SUNDAY CLOSER.” *>>Reporter: QUIETLY TUCKED UNDER AN APARTMENT BUILDING IN NEW YORK CITY’S BATTERY PARK, ST. JOSEPH’S CHAPEL IS A SWEET, SMALL SPACE THAT HOLDS HUNDREDS OF MEMORY.>>MADE MY FIRST COMMUNION HERE. SOME GOOD MEMORIES.>>THAT IS WHERE I FIRST LOVED MY FAVORITE THING TO DO NOW.>>Reporter: THIS NEAT YET MIGHTY CHAPEL SITS ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE FREEDOM TOWER AND GROUND ZERO. FEW OF US WILL FORGET WHERE WE WERE WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENED ON SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001. ST. JOSEPH’S STOOD DIRECTLY IN THE SHADOW OF THE DESTRUCTION. IT EMERGED FROM THE ASHES AS AN HUMBLE AND UNEXPECTED RESIDENT. WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DID THAT CHURCH HOLD TO THE COMMUNITY?>>IT BECAME REALLY A FOCAL POINT FOR THE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.>>Reporter: FATHER MADIGAN WAS ITS PASTOR IN THE AFTERMATH OF 9/11 WHEN IT BECAME A COMMAND CENTER FOR RESCUE WORKERS.>>THE CITY TOOK OVER AND USED IT AS A PLACE TO TAKE CARE OF RECOVERY WORKERS. AFTER A VERY GRUELING EXPERIENCE WORKING THE PIT THERE, THEY NEEDED THE BREAK. THAT BASICALLY FED THE BODY BUT FED THE SPIRIT, THE SOUL.>>CAN’T IMAGINE WHAT THOSE PEOPLE WENT THROUGH. I’M EXTREMELY PROUD OF THAT FACT, AS WELL. THAT’S WHAT OUR CHURCH CAN DO TO LEND A HAND TO THAT PROCESS.>>Reporter: AMY McCARTHY KURTA HAVE BEEN COMING TO THE CHURCH SINCE 1999 AND LIVERED ED LIVED IN THE APARTMENTS ABOVE.>>I LOOKED OUT THE SIGHT.>>Reporter: THE AREA WAS EVACUATED FOR MONTHS WHEN THE PARISHIONERS CAME BACK, THEY IMMEDIATELY GOT TO WORK REBUILDING THE DAMAGED CHAPEL.>>PART OF THE WRECKAGE, THE INTERIOR WAS DEVASTATED, AS IT WAS COMING BACK TO LIVE IT SHOWED THAT THE COMMUNITY OUTSIDE THE CHAPEL CAME TO LIFE.>>Reporter: ST. JOSEPH’S CAME BACK AS MORE THAN A CHURCH. IT WAS REDEDICATED IN 2005 AS A MEMORIAL. ITS WALLS ARE LINED WITH PATRON SAINTS SYMBOLIC OF FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE OFFICERS, RESCUE WORKERS.>>TO HAVE THAT FEELING. SUSTAINED THROUGH THEM. AND ALSO WE WEREN’T GIVING UP. THE MESSAGE OF 9/11 THAT WE ALL EMBRACED WAS, NEVER FORGET, YOU WON’T BE DEFEATED.>>Reporter: AND YET WHILE 9/11 COULDN’T DEFEAT THE CHURCH, RISING RENT IN THE INCREASINGLY POSH NEIGHBORHOOD MIGHT. IN 2014, THE CHAPEL’S ANNUAL RENT SPIKED FROM $85,000 TO $263,000. THE ARCHDIOCESE SAYS THAT’S UNSUSTAINABLE.>>THE PARISH IS SINKING FURTHER AND FURTHER INTO DEBT. IT’S JUST NOT A SITUATION THAT CAN CONTINUE INDEFINITELY.>>Reporter: THE FAMILIES IN THE COMMUNITY DON’T WANT TO SEE IT GO. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF ST. JOSEPH’S HAD TO CLOSE?>>I WOULD FEEL DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE IT’S SUCH AN AMAZING PLACE. AND SO MANY PEOPLE FEEL THE SAME WAY.>>IC THATTING AWAY THIS CHURCH TAKES AWAY A NERVE, I BELIEVE, TO THE CITY OF WHAT HAPPENED IN EVENTS OF 9/11. IT’S A PURE AND SIMPLE AND QUIET SPACE THAT IS A PART OF LIVING HISTORY. AND I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU CAN TAKE THAT AWAY AND NOT FEEL THE LOSS.>>NOW, THE CHURCHES DOWN THERE, DYLAN, LIKE THIS ONE WERE SO CRITICAL IN THOSE DAYS AFTER 9/11. PEOPLE FORGET THEY WERE HOUSING FOR THE FIRST RESPONDERS. THEY PROVIDED FOOD AND CLOTHING AND EVERYTHING ELSE.>>THEY’VE BECOME HISTORICAL SITES. THE PARISHIONERS ARE PRAYING FOR A MIRACLE. WHETHER A LARGE DONATION. I’M A MEMBER OF THE PARISH, SO, I KNOW HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO THE

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