Seventeen Catholic churches across New York City are closing permanently, because of a decline in attendance.
In November 2014 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced it would consolidate 368 parishes into 294, due to a shortage in priests, financial worries and low attendance.
Manhattan resident Lola Skaro, a retiree in her late 70s, said: "It's like a death in the family."
She had visited Our Lady of Peace Church every day since her retirement, according to The New York Times.
Janice Dooner Lynch, church spokeswoman and parishioner, said she was angry about the shutdown, which began during a mass: "They couldn't even wait for our last mass to be over."
Mark Gray, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate at Georgetown University, says churches have been closing over the past 15 years: "The church's population and the parishes are no longer closely aligned."
These closures come weeks before Pope Francis' visit to the U.S, which includes a stop in New York in September.
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