Schenectady County

Last Catholic church on Hamilton Hill closes

If a church is its people, Sacred Heart-St. Columba’s died on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPHER:

If a church is its people, Sacred Heart-St. Columba’s died on Sunday.

The building remains, but its people have been scattered, sent to build a new home at a dozen different churches because their former home couldn’t bring in enough money to pay the bills.

They left without weeping, without despairing — but they all agreed they won’t find another community like the one they left behind.

“Here everybody was equal. No matter the color, they were all treated the same. I wish that were across the board,” said parishioner Mary Woods, who had to blink back tears during the final Mass on Sunday. “It won’t be like here.”

The church was well-known for its tolerance — it opened the first youth agency in the city to which gang members and drug dealers were admitted, allowed the AIDS Council to hand out condoms in the church basement and let the teens paint murals on the interior walls.

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