Yesterday, the parishoners of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese learned if their churches were staying open or closing. It is a very sad day for Cleveland Catholics, and even non-Catholics who benefited from the support of local church support programs, such as caring for the homeless, feeding the hungry, helping those with chemical dependencies, etc. Many of the poor and the inner city people will be greatly affected by this reorganization, but it will also affect thousands of other parishioners who have supported their local churches for decades, especially the elderly.
Let me say right up front that I am a lapsed Catholic. I only attend church when I absolutely have to – weddings and funerals. The church ceased to be relevant to me years ago, especially in the 1970s going forward when it seemed clear to me that the Catholic Church completely devalues women and refuses to allow them to have key roles in the Church, such as allowing them to become priests. I have always felt that the Church could still uphold its main tenets and that the same time loosen their tight collars and bring some of the practices into the modern area, continuing the work that Pope John XXIII began in the 1960s.
But it saddens me to see that the church in which all my grandparent attended, my parents were married in, and I was baptized in, located in Cleveland, is closing, and the church my husband and I were married in, located in Bedford, is also closing. The church that all my husband’s grandparents attended, his parents were married in, and he was baptized in, also located in Cleveland, is closing. It is as if someone has just taken a giant eraser and wiped away the complete history of two families.
There is also a huge concern about maintaining the structures, especially those historic buildings within the city of Cleveland. Many of these churches have become stabilizing factors in neighborhoods that are in serious decline. Without the people and supporting social programs - and the structures - the look of a city in decay could be even more devastating to neighborhoods already on the bubble.
In a press release from the Cleveland Catholic Diocese,the reasons for the closings and consolidations were listed as follows:
The reconfiguration plan reflects a proactive strategy to address three major challenges the Diocese and its parishes face as they work to create a more vibrant Church:
• Population shifts in the region. With movement away from urban areas, approximately two-thirds of Catholics are currently served by one-third of its parishes.
• Financial hardship for many parishes. Forty-two percent of parishes are currently operating in the red, with operating expenses greater than revenues.
• Fewer priests available for ministry throughout the United States and other parts of the world. The Diocese has less than half as many priests as it did in 1970.
I do understand that the Church – like any business - needs to close those facilities that are a drain on their finances. But, the truth is that there are several churches being closed that were not losing money and were not having financial hardship. As far as not having enough priests, the Church may have itself to blame for not allowing women to join the clergy, or even by not allowing priests to marry. I can understand the church not bending on the latter because of the celibacy issue, but not allowing women to become priests has cut off a huge number of potential priests.
There has also been much dispute of the creation of the “clusters” from which decisions had to be made to close a certain number of churches within each cluster. When the clusters were first established, there were complaints that some of the groupings made no sense, and some seemed to be assigned with the purpose to force the closure of specific churches.
One may say that the fact that I have not attended church in many years gives me no right to gripe. I disagree. While I do not attend church, that does not mean that I have not donated money to my church in order to keep them running or supported them in other ways. I also think that if the church were to listen a little more to dissenters, and also make changes that show that it truly lives up to its teachings by having more respect for women, maybe it wouldn’t be in such dire straights. There is also the simmering outrage of some current and lapsed Catholics (not to mention non-Catholics) regarding the large sums of money that have been paid out to settle lawsuits for claims of abuse at the hands of its clergy. Maybe if the Church had been more diligent in its management of its clergy, it wouldn’t be losing a large amount of its money to these kinds of lawsuits.
I truly feel badly for all the members of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese that learned that their Churches are closing. These people will feel even worse if some churches that are not currently protected by historic status are lost to the wrecking ball. I understand to some degree why the diocese had to do this, but I found the methods by which they decided who stays and who goes to be flawed. And unless the Catholic Church makes some changes to bring itself to show respect to all of its members, and to remain relevant to the changing times and advances of science and technology, I fear that they will continue to lose membership at a rapid pace.
This is the status of the Catholic Churches in Cuyahoga County, as of Saturday night March 14, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
1. Annunciation, 4697 W. 130th St.: Merging with Ascension and St. Patrick on Rocky River Drive.
2. Ascension, 14040 Puritas Ave.: Merging with Anunciation and St. Patrick on Rocky River Drive.
3. Blessed Sacrament, 3381 Fulton Road: Closing.
4. Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, East Ninth Street and Superior: Remaining open.
5. Corpus Christi, 4850 Pearl Road: Closing and merging with Our Lady of Good Counsel.
6. Holy Cross, 19951 Lake Shore Blvd., Euclid: Merging with St. Christine at Holy Cross.
7. Holy Name, 8329 Broadway SE: Remaining open.
8. Holy Redeemer, 15172 Kipling Ave., SE: Remaining open.
9. Holy Rosary, 12021 Mayfield Road: Remaining open.
10. Holy Trinity, 24821 Columbus Road., Bedford Heights: Closing and merging with St. Pius X.
11. Immaculate Conception, 4129 Superior Ave.: Remaining open.
12. Immaculate Heart of Mary, 6700 Lansing Ave.: Remaining open.
13. La Sagrada Familia, 7719 Detroit Ave.: Remaining open.
14. Our Lady of Angels, 3644 Rocky River Drive: Remaining open.
15. Our Lady of Good Counsel, 4423 Pearl Road: Merging with Corpus Christi.
16. Our Lady of Mercy, 2425 West 11th St.: Closing.
17. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel West, 6928 Detroit Ave.: Remaining open.
18. Our Lady of Peace, Shaker Boulevard and East 126th Street: Remaining open.
19. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 18022 Neff Road: Merging with St. George at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
20. Sacred Heart of Jesus, 6916 Krakow Ave.: Closing.
21. Saints Cyril and Methodius, 12608 Madison Ave.: Remaining open and merging with St. Rose of Lima at Saints Cyril and Methodius.
22. Saints Philip and James, 3727 Bosworth Road: Closing.
23. St. Ann, 2175 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights: Merging with St. Philomena, Christ the King and St. Louis.
24. St. Augustine, 2486 West 14th St.: Remaining open.
25. St. Barbara, 1505 Denison Ave.: Closing.
26. St. Boniface, 3545 West 54th St.: Remaining open.
27. St. Casimir, 8223 Sowinski Ave.: Closing.
28. St. Cecilia, Kinsman Road and East 152nd Street: Closing, as will Epiphany.
29. St. Charles Borromeo, 5891 Ridge Road, Parma: Remaining open.
30. St. Christine, 840 East 222nd St.: Closing and merging with Holy Cross.
31. St. Clement, 14401 Madison Ave., Lakewood: Remaining open.
32. St. Colman, 2027 West 65th St.: Closing.
33. St. Emeric, 1890 West 22nd St.: Closing.
34. St. Felicitas, 140 Richmond Road, Euclid: Merging with St. Paul in Euclid.
35. St. George, 6527 Superior Ave.: Merging with Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
36. St. Gregory the Great, 1545 S. Green Road, South Euclid: Merging with St. Margaret Mary. Worship site to be determined.
37. St. Hedwig, 12905 Madison Ave., Lakewood: Closing.
38. St. Hyacinth, 6114 Francis Ave.: Closing.
39. St. Ignatius of Antioch, 10205 Lorain Ave.: Closing, but school remaining open.
40. St. James, 17514 Detroit Ave., Lakewood: Closing.
41. St. Jerome, 1500 Lake Shore Blvd.: Remaining open.
42. St. John Cantius, 906 College Ave.: Remaining open.
43. St. John Nepomucene, Fleet Avenue and East 50th St.: Remaining open.
44. St. Leo the Great, 4940 Broadview Road: Remaining open.
45. St. Louis, 2463 N. Taylor Road: Closing and merging with St. Philomena, St. Ann and Christ the King.
46. St. Luke, Clifton Boulevard and Bunts Road, Lakewood: Remaining open.
47. St. Malachi, West 25th St.: Remaining open.
48. St. Margaret Mary, 4217 Bluestone Road, South Euclid: merging with St. Gregory the Great. Worship site to be determined.
49. St. Margaret of Hungary, 4680 Lander Road, Orange: Closing.
50. St. Mark, 15800 Montrose Ave.: Remaining open.
51. St. Mary, 15519 Holmes Ave.: Remaining open.
52. St. Mary, 340 Union St., Bedford: Closing and merging with St. Pius X.
53. St. Mel, 14436 Triskett Road: Remaining open, but school is closing.
54. St. Michael the Archangel, 3114 Scranton: Remaining open.
55. St. Patrick, 4427 Rocky River Drive: Merging with Anunciation and Ascension.
56. St. Patrick, 3602 Bridge Ave.: Remaining open.
57. St. Paul, 1360 East 40th St.: Remaining open.
58. St. Paul, 1231 Chardon Road, Euclid: Closing and merging with St. Felicitas.
59. St. Philomena, 13824 Euclid Ave., East Cleveland: Merging with St. Ann's, Christ the King and St. Louis. Worship sites at St. Philomena and St. Ann's.
60. St. Pius X, 400 Center Road, Bedford: Remaining open but merging with Holy Trinity in Bedford Heights and St. Mary in Bedford.
61. St. Procop, 3181 West 41st St.: Closing.
62. St. Robert Bellarmine, 23802 Lake Shore Blvd., Euclid: Merging with St. William at St. William.
63. St. Rocco, 3205 Fulton Road: Remaining open.
64. St. Rose of Lima, 11401 Detroit Ave.: Closing and merging with Saints Cyril and Methodius at Saints Cyril and Methodius.
65. St. Stanislaus, 3649 East 65th St.: Remaining open.
66. St. Stephen, 1930 West 54th St.: Remaining open.
67. St. Thomas More, 4170 N. Amber Drive, Brooklyn: Remaining open.
68. St. Vincent de Paul, 13400 Lorain Ave.: Remaining open.
69. St. Vitus, 6019 Lausche Ave.: Remaining open.
70. St. Wendelin, 2281 Columbus Road: Closing.
71. St. William, 367 East 260th St., Euclid: Merging with St. Robert at St. William
A complete, updated list of all Cleveland Catholic Diocese Church closings can be found here.
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