Catholic chapel in New Jersey mall closing after decades

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PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — A Roman Catholic chapel at a New Jersey shopping mall is closing after more than 45 years.

St. Therese's Chapel is at the Bergen Town Center in Paramus and is also known as the Chapel on the Mall. The church's final Mass was scheduled for Ash Wednesday.

The chapel, office rooms and gift shop have occupied 5,000 square feet. The chapel has been run by the Carmelite order of priests since it opened in 1970 and had a month-to-month lease at the mall for the past decade. The Record reported that the chapel's space is needed as the mall remodels for new tenants.

The New York Times reports the chapel has drawn almost 1,000 people to Mass each week. It has had at least three Masses a day, six days a week.

The Rev. Eugene Bettinger, the chapel's executive director for 15 years, told the newspaper that new potential locations already have been scouted but finding a new home won't be easy. He said cost has become one of the biggest factors.

"You see the potential, the possibilities— if you can afford it," Bettinger said.

Bettinger, 70, told The Record last month that he's grateful the chapel has been able to remain at the mall for as long as it has.

"I have no complaints," he said. "We have been treated very well by the mall."

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