"It was like he got kidnapped," said Grey Salcedo as she waited with dozens of others on the sidewalk Sunday for the buses to come. There would be three commuter buses, 44 seats each, transporting parishioners of Beekman Avenue's to Manhattan where they would continue their protest of the loss of their beloved Father.
Father Gilberto Angel-Neri, "Father Angel," made quite an impact in just the few years he was appointed head of this Catholic church.
According to Salcedo, the church was "really down" and even under threat of being closed before he stepped in and turned it around. Angel-Neri started youth programming, got the place renovated, raised money, and "pulled everyone together," she said. "He was such a wonderful Father."
Suddenly, and without explanation, the Archdiocese of New York, came in a few months ago and moved Angel-Neri to a church in the Bronx. St. Teresa does not yet have a replacement pastor, and they don't want one.
"They took our Father away," Salcedo said. "We want him back."
According to the man who helped coordinate the day's rally but didn't want to give his name, they had collected about 2,000 petition signatures to reinstate Angel-Neri. In response to their petition and their , there has been nothing but silence from higher up.
The congregation hoped that showing up en masse on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral in the city, with their signs and special-made t-shirts with Father Angel's face on the front, would inspire someone ranked in the church to finally come talk to them.
Yubelkys Gaveras, who works in the church office, said "no, not really," when asked if anything came of the rally.
The man who coordinated the day said they stayed for over two hours and "nobody came out. Nobody asked what what happened. Only a few of us talked to a priest but he didn't say anything."
A message Patch left with the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of NY has not yet been returned.
The parishioners plan to continue their efforts; they are holding a meeting on the matter Tuesday, July 24 at 8 p.m. in the church basement.
Meanwhile, along with the rest of the Catholic community, members of St. Teresa's are flocking to the to find whatever hope they can from the fuzzy image of the Virgin.