They are to go nowhere but to another church or house of worship.
That wasn’t the case for a stained glass window from the former St. Kunegunda Church in McAdoo. Instead of hanging in a religious institution, the window is in a woman’s home in Port Jefferson, N.Y.
A lifelong member of St. Kunegunda said she was upset to learn the diocese had violated its own policy.
Victoria Gennaro visited an online forum for the “Polish church in McAdoo,” where visitors talk about St. Kunegunda, the church that closed in 2008 under the diocese’s restructuring plan.
Gennaro, McAdoo, read a July post from New Jersey resident Dorothy Wieczerzak, who wrote that her sister had purchased a stained glass window from St. Kunegunda.
In the post, Wieczerzak explained that her family has ties to McAdoo and the church.
“Luckily, our cousins from the area contacted my sister and she was able to negotiate the purchase of the window, which her gifted son beautifully installed in her art studio facing her garden. St. Kunegunda is gone but at least one stained glass window is home in Port Jefferson, N.Y.,” Wieczerzak wrote.
The post shocked Gennaro, who previously contacted the Philadelphia firm marketing the windows from the closed churches. She asked a representative from the firm, Beyer Art Studio, how to go about purchasing a window. She was told about the policy.
Upon seeing Wieczerzak’s post, Gennaro contacted the Diocesan office responsible for selling church items.
“Why were we not given the same comfort to purchase one of the windows? Why was this out-of-state family given this honor and opportunity?” Gennaro wrote to Monsignor David L. James, vicar for Synod Implementation.
James placed the blame on the family.
“From our investigation of the matter, it appears that the terms of the sale were violated by the purchaser,” James wrote in an email to the Standard-Speaker. “The Diocese has instituted internal controls to prevent this type of situation from occurring again.”
James referred other questions to Matt Kerr, diocesan spokesman, who blamed the window’s sale – and policy violation – on a “misunderstanding” among the parties involved.
“There was a misunderstanding of some kind between the parish, the stained glass company (Beyer Studio) and the woman who wanted the window and ended up with it,” Kerr said.
Had the sale been handled correctly, the buyer “would have to present a letter from a church that would have said that she would donate the (window) under our policy,” Kerr said.
He said the woman “thought she had permission” to buy the window. Beyer Studio “thought she had a letter” and the parish also “thought she had a letter,” he said.
Wieczerzak had no comment regarding the diocese’s claims.
“Sorry, have no information to offer,” she wrote in an email.
Kerr said he hasn’t heard of any effort to reclaim the window.
“It happened and hopefully it won’t happen again,” he said. “We are making sure that our policy is strictly enforced.”
Gennaro, who was a St. Kunegunda secretary for eight years and who spearheaded an appeal to keep the church open, isn’t confident in the explanation. She said she was told by James that the family happened to be at the church the day the windows were being removed.
“No parishioners knew of this event in advance. It’s not like the diocese announced the date the windows would be taken,” she said.
Gennaro said the diocese should have insisted that paperwork to donate the window was in order before the window was transferred.
“However and wherever the transaction or giving of the window took place, the diocese itself is culpable for allowing a valuable piece of sacred property to be given to anyone, for any reason, without proper paperwork and assurance the window was going to a church and not a private home,” she said.
Kerr noted there is one exception regarding stained glass windows.
“If there is a separate pane of glass and it was donated by a family, the family is entitled to that particular pane,” he said.
For example, the pane could have a family’s name but no religious depictions. The recently sold window, however, was complete – and not a pane.