The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Convent to become Muslim mosque

From the In My Backyard Desk…here’s an item that has ignited a small storm of controversy over in Staten Island:

The impending sale of an empty, 2 ½ -story convent in Midland Beach owned by St. Margaret Mary’s R.C. Church has neighbors angry and afraid because the purchaser is an Islamic organization they know little about.


Several hundred concerned residents turned out last night for an emergency meeting called by the Midland Beach Civic Association at the Olympia Activity Center, two blocks from the convent site at 555 Greeley Ave.

The association’s president, Yasmin Ammirato, told the gathering that she first learned about the convent sale on May 12. She added that the Rev. Keith Fennessy, pastor, told her at a meeting on May 15 with four representatives of the nonprofit Muslim American Society (MAS), the group set to buy the property, that he had “signed off, and money has been exchanged.”

She said that MAS agreed to pay $750,000 for the property, and its plan for the convent’s re-use includes a mosque and community center with after-school programs for children. “There’s a need for a mosque on the East Shore” from South Beach to Midland Beach, she said the representatives told her, citing Muslim Albanian and Turkish residents.


The convent occupies a 100-by-90-foot corner lot, with a current market value of $915,000, according to the city Department of Finance.

Residents in attendance last night were not happy about what they heard. One proposed a petition drive to remove Father Fennessy from his post, and the idea received sustained applause. Another suggested that the civic association consult with an attorney to explore legal options to fight the project. One woman raised a practical concern: “Parking here is already horrendous. How will another community center affect the neighborhood, whether it’s run by an Islamic group or not?”

“This hurts — it was done without even consulting us, on the sneak,” said Eugene Reems, 42, a life-long resident whose three children attend the parish elementary school, where his wife, Erin, teaches third grade.


“September 11 left scars on this neighborhood that will last for the rest of our lives,” he added, noting that part of the convent fronts Freeborn Street, which was renamed for FDNY Capt. Martin Egan, 36, who was killed in the terrorist attacks.

Check out the link for the rest.  H/T to Patrick Madrid.

Comments read comments(18)
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posted May 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Paint the wall’s with pig’s blood.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm

So far they have registered only one reasonable complaint – that of parking. The rest of it is just ignorance and bigotry. They go on the assumption that any Muslim group must be a terrorist front. Have they even bothered to learn who the Imam or other leaders are and their reputations? Should people get up petitions to block Catholic ministries because a tiny minority go on to become clinic bombers?
The reality is that mosques and Islamic charities are under unprecedented levels of surveillance these days. No serious terrorist is going to frequent such places. They’re going to have very low profiles, working very ordinary jobs, acting like the nicest most assimilated people you ever knew. Honestly the best innoculation against radicalization of young Muslims is to let them truly integrate into ordinary America as ordinary Americans. If you think locking them away in segregated housing tracts and denying them real participation in society will work, ask the Europeans how that’s working for them. They have more radical dissafected Muslim men than anyplace outside of tribal Pakistan.
As to it being a “sneak” move, these people don’t know much about zoning law. First off, nobody needs to be notified about a sales agreement between private parties. When you bought your home, did you send around fliers to let the neighbors decide if you were the “right sort”? Notification comes when someone proposes to use a property for something not normally allowed.
Based on the property’s previous use, it seems likely that the Muslim center was a “permitted” use rather than a special use, which means that neighbors don’t need to be formally notified for special hearings etc. If that’s not the case, they will have ample opportunity to attend hearings and work out real concerns about parking, traffic, noise, etc. Vague unease about “how those people would work out here” won’t cut it. It’s not 1951 anymore.

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Stephanie Jelley

posted May 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

“It was done without even consulting us, on the sneak” claims one resident? Is it a requirement for the church to discuss such transactions? I would find it doubtful that there is a local ordinance requiring disclosure.
The reality lies in the residents unfounded hatred for a specific group “unlike” themselves. It saddens me so that a once diverse and tolerant community has regressed to bigotry. I like so many, have lost family and friends in “The Towers” and find no validation to prohibit or protest MAS to the community.
“Paint the wall’s in pig’s blood”? So much energy spent lowering the already low opinion of the residents on Staten Island.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

So the residents would rather the buildings just sit empty and rot? It is also possible that on one else was interested in buying the property.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Being anti-muslim may be bigoted, but it’s not ignorant. Islam has pretty much ruined every land where it has become a major presence. I lived for a while in Uzbeksitan – excellent food, interesting architecture (supervised by captured Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist architects and builders), but the level of trust and the general lack of ethics among Muslims there troubled me.

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Christopher L

posted May 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

@Kenneth….violent Muslims are just part of the problem. The political aspect of Islam is even more dangerous than potential suicide bombers. Mosques are popping up across America, the less that Islam advances better.

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Staten Pilgrim

posted May 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm

The Moslem American Society is a well known front group for the terrorist Moslem Brotherhood, the group that influenced so many of the terrorists who plague us today. The people of the neighborhood are right to be mad. Even if were just an ordinary Mosque moving into the neighborhood, they would right to be furious at this alien presence settling into a building that once housed the consecrated virgins of Christ and where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was once offered in the chapel. I really don’t care that “open-minded” people like Kenneth would condemn Catholics standing up to condemn this invasion. People, and countries, that are open minded like him end up as dhimmis in the ash bin of history.

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Thespian in the Desert

posted May 22, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Stepanie, I couldn’t agree with you more! The response of the Midland Beach residents is based on a fear of the ‘other’… this fear turns into a hatred that blinds people beyond the rational. Enough with the conspiracy theories… pack away our hatred, and love ALL of our brothers and sisters. Amen!

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posted May 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

It would be better to have leveled the building and plant trees than plant seeds of Islam. It matters not if you are atheist, pagam, wicken or Christian because Islam will not stop until the whole world is Islam. Don’t be fooled either, they knew full wel for whom the street was named after. It only pours salt in the wounds.
Sharia laws must be banned.

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posted May 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Those of you are bashing Muslims as a group are bigoted. Not a pleasant fact, no. Bigotry is just plain wrong and ugly, whether its target is Blacks, Jews, Mexican-Americans, Italians, Irish, or Muslims. Sorry to state the obvious, but that’s what is needed here.
And since most of those who comment here are people of faith, ask yourself whether your faith encourages or frowns upon bigotry. It’s a sin, isn’t it? Then why be proud of it? We all have prejudice within us, all of us. But our moral obligation is to root it out, not brag about it.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

Sorry Steve, but we wouldn’t be bashing Muslims if they weren’t committing acts (or trying their best to) of terrorism, here, and everywhere across the world. Do we really want to end up like Great Britain here, where sharia law is being implemented? I don’t, and most Americans don’t either. Have you forgotten 09/11 so fast? Keep your eyes and ears open America!

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Staten Pilgrim

posted May 24, 2010 at 11:34 am

Silly comments about bigotry. Loving our enemies doesn’t mean surrendering to them. It doesn’t mean groveling in the dust before them, giving them our holy places and facilitating their efforts to convert us. Canonized saints (Bernard) have not only preached Crusade, but have fought it them (Louis). If those people, who are in heaven, saw nothing wrong with defending ourselves against the Moslems, why should I?

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Thespian in the Desert

posted May 25, 2010 at 3:49 am

Disregard what I just posted, hahahaha

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posted May 25, 2010 at 3:50 am

A friend just directed me to just yesterday…
I stand corrected.

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A USA Muslim, New Yorker. Tax Payer

posted May 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Hi All, I would like to share, We are part of this country and do not judge by those people , some of us, who is doing wrong stuff against US and against their Own countries, in fact.. It is a set of mind that want to kill, just like any person who is behind bars for life. Think about it… We are more than 10 Million here in the US. about 2 m. in NY,, a big community in S.I. We are here to share the life with others, and by the Way I have a relative of 9 11 disaster. so we are in the same boat, and we should stand together. MAS is an organization that is all over the USA, focusing in youth and have a big relationship with all of the religious organizations, with the officials, with communities as well. This place will be for the community and will benefit it. will be a channel to know us and learn what we are, forget what the media said, the are making money in our identity. We are part of the country and more than that , tax payers. So lets live together , share the same concerns in this wonderful country. Regards.

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posted June 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

i agree with the us muslim, i too am one. a releigion should not be judge based on a small group of people. All we muslims want to do is live in peace and pratice our religion just like everybody alse gets to do.

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