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Catholic Chapel at 9/11’s Ground Zero may close due to rent increase

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In 2005 the church was refurbished as a memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack

A Catholic chapel located across the street from where the Twin Towers stood is set to shut its doors because it can’t afford an increase in the rent.

Those who remember the chapel for its role after the 9/11 terrorist attack when it served as a command center for rescue workers and volunteers and a source of comfort to survivors are fighting to keep it open according to a report at PIX 11.

“Across the street was the pit of death and doom,” Sally Regenhard, who lost her son Christian, a firefighter on 9/11, said. “And at St. Joseph’s Chapel families saw some comfort, saw a way to get through this.”

Following a Mass held the night before the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a group of families of survivors and parishioners gathered for a news conference to rally to keep the chapel open.

Rent has increased from $75,000 a year to $300,000, and the Catholic Archdiocese of New York has said it cannot afford to stay open, according to the report.

The church was heavily damaged by smoke, dust and debris during the 9/11 attacks, but was refurbished in 2005 and dedicated by Edward Cardinal Egan as the Catholic memorial at Ground Zero. The  church contains original artwork, including sculptures of St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police officers; and St. Joseph, patron saint of workers.

The group is calling for the city to keep the chapel open, but not as a church.

“We would like to have the Battery Park City Authority and Lefrak repurpose St. Joseph’s as a Battery Park community center,” Justine Cuccia, a St. Joseph parishioner and rally organizer told PIX11. “We also want to bring the family room back to ground zero where belongs, instead of Albany.”

“It’s iconic—it’s part of our history,” Michael Ragazzo, a 9/11 survivor and a neighbor, told PIX11. “It should be here for all the people who went through it to preserve history.”

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