This Christmas, after standing empty for nearly two years, the former Catholic church at 170 Rindge Ave. will once again be home to holiday celebrations.
Soon, Christmas lights and decorations will festoon the newly renovated house of worship for both its Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.
For most of its history, the building was known as Our Lady of Pity Church, serving first the French Canadian community. In 1998, the church became the home of the Haitian Apostolate of the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese, where Haitian Catholics could celebrate the songs and prayers of the Mass in their native Creole.
That all ended in 2003, when the church, rectory and school buildings that once comprised a bustling campus, were closed as part of the archdiocese’s parish reconfiguration plan.
With the property up for bidding, developers competed with religious and educational institutions, such as the Mormons, M.I.T and Harvard, for the deed. In the end the complex was sold to the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Cambridge for $6.2 million.
That year, faced with declining membership and rising costs, the Archdiocese sold Our Lady of Pity for $6.2 million.
The new owners moved in May 8, and they brought with them new songs, new prayers and a new sort of joyful noise to heard inside its walls—and they brought a band.
The emphasis on music was not an afterthought. The Vineyard movement was strongly influenced by one of its founding leaders, John Wimber (1934-1997), who once wrote in Christianity Today that he was beer-guzzling, drug-abusing pop musician, who converted at the age of 29, while chain smoking his way through Quaker Bible study.