Tuesday, December 17, 2013

There will soon be a rooftop swimming pool where the copper-domed bell towers of Mary Help of Christians once rose.

Formerly a hub of the East Village’s Italian-American community, the site of the Roman Catholic church is now slated for a 158-unit rental building, complete with basement gym and rooftop gardens — a familiar trajectory for a growing number of houses of worship as church attendance falls and real estate values soar.

In the rubble-strewn lot on Avenue A between 11th and 12th Streets where Mary Help of Christians and its school and rectory long stood, a rusty basketball hoop and strip of blacktop are all that is left. But perhaps unknown to those mourning the church’s passing, much of what was precious inside it — and other now-closed Catholic churches — sits in a Staten Island warehouse, awaiting a second chance.

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