Cleansing Fire

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Church Closing Yields Schism in Cleveland

January 25th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Bishop Clark is lucky that the following hasn’t happened in Rochester [yet] as a result of the numerous church closings.

From Cleveland.com

“CLEVELAND, Ohio — Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese has threatened the Rev. Robert Marrone with punishment through church law for celebrating unauthorized Masses in a breakaway church.

Marrone and his congregation set up worship space in a commercial building in August, four months after Lennon closed their parish, St. Peter’s near downtown Cleveland.

Today, 48 hours past the deadline, Marrone read to his congregation a letter he had sent to the bishop in response to the threat: “It is my decision to remain in my present position with the Community of St. Peter.”

The congregation of about 300 people jumped to its feet in applause and shouts of “Bravo!”

The closing of the 151-year-old St. Peter on Superior Avenue and East 17th Street was part of a diocese-wide downsizing that saw the elimination of 50 parishes.”

I think what the sad story above teaches us is that we need to be extremely cautious when dealing with church closings, and only shut down those churches which are truly nonviable going into the future. Closings churches in order to create more “vibrant” worship in fuller and fewer church buildings, or because of a temporary decrease in clergy, do not constitute good reasons for closing churches in my book.

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10 Responses to “Church Closing Yields Schism in Cleveland”

  1. avatar Persis says:

    I am a little confused. 🙁
    Is CF supporting what this priest did?

    While I sympathize with the people of St. Peter, how is what they are doing any different than what happened with the Corpus/Spiritus Christi debacle here in Rochester?

  2. avatar Nerina says:

    Persis, I don’t think CF is supporting this action, but rather pointing out that closing churches is a very emotional thing and can lead to this kind of reaction. I empathize with the people of this church, but I don’t agree with what they are doing. For better or for worse, we must follow our bishop. Schism is never a good option.

  3. avatar Dr. K says:

    No no no! I’m definitely not endorsing this action. Schism, no matter for traditional or progressive reasons, is schism, and separates one from union with the holy Catholic Church.

    My point was: thank God this hasn’t happened in Rochester as a result of the local church closings. The danger exists after what happened in Cleveland, so I think we should exercise caution when attempting to close churches and only close those that are truly not viable.

  4. avatar Persis says:

    Thanks for the clarification Dr. K!! 🙂

    I didn’t think you were supporting this, I was just taken aback a little by your statement that “Bishop Clark was lucky this hasn’t happened here, yet.”

  5. You must question the research and decisions of our Diocese:
    The lead usher at St. Andrew’s Church of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Parish, told me this Sunday that an announcement was made at the 4 P.M. mass at Annunciation, that there was not enough money to renovate Annunciation. Apparently one of the issues was an enclosed elevator. The parishioners were told that the Diocese would be looking at church’s with over $50,000 to access funds to help pay for the renovations.

    Many parishioners wrote letters to the Bishop and Board to describe the conditions of Annunciation Hall and what would be involved in renovating it. For instance, asbetos in the ceiling between the drop ceiling and original ceiling.The Diocese plans to raise the ceiling.The Hall would have to met Fire Code as well as Building Code. They also pointed out the toilet facilities were in the basement accessible by a long steep staircase. (This is in addition to the long steep staircase getting up into the church). Seats 150 people (uncomfortably) within a few pews and mainly metal folding chairs. If the aisles were made wheelchair accessible, it would greatly diminish the seating capacity. The Bishop and members of the Board were invited to view Annunciation Hall prior to making their decision. It would appear that they did not read parishioners letters or take them to heart, did not do their research despite saying they did, and really do not care how they spend diocesan churchgoers’ hard-earned money. Many of us do not think the renovated Annunciation will be open that long before the Diocese decides to close it and sell it.

  6. avatar Dr. K says:

    No problem. I added a little paragraph at the end to clear up any ambiguity.

  7. avatar Choirloft says:

    Christian1954 – Just some clarification on ‘the parishioners were told that the Diocese would be looking at church’s with over $50,000 to access funds to help pay for the renovations.” Did you mean that the diocese is going to try and panhandle other churches to get the necessary $50K for renovations to Annunciation? I wouldn’t put it past them. If this is true then they absolutely have no shame and are scoundrels.

    I wouldn’t put it past the diocese to have Annunciation parishioners pay to get everything up to code, so it’s a more marketable building and piece of property, then close the church and sell it. I also think the diocese would try to find a buyer behind the scenes while the church is still actively being used by Catholics, and then, once the buyer is secure, the dioceses tell the parishioners they are going to close the church. The diocese then closes it and sells it almost immediately. The diocese wouldn’t seem to care about the timing of closing versus the selling. The diocesan administration seems to be a similiar to a group of Decepticons from Transformer Land.

    Can you tell that I have pretty much lost faith in our diocese and their “bona fides” attempts.

  8. avatar Dr. K says:

    Many of us do not think the renovated Annunciation will be open that long before the Diocese decides to close it and sell it.

    You’re not the first person to bring up the possibility that Annunciation is being improved so as to sell it (possibly within a year) after closing St. Andrew.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    I have a friend who is 94 years old and a long time parishioner of Annunciation parish. She and her husband (deceased) raised their children in the parish and despite very modest means contributed their treasure and talents to building-up the parish including the construction of their “new” church (the one the DoR recently sold). She hobbles up the steep steps every Sunday to attend church in the old church now and sits on a folding metal chair. She mentioned that since the bingo hall is a church again, that they really should get new curtains for the windows since the old curtains were dirty and torn. She was told by the layperson in charge that this was a great idea and was she willing to donate new curtains! She told them she and her husband had already contributed to the “new” church fund drive years ago and since it was sold out from under the parish that she wouldn’t be contributing any more of her money (what she has left) to the parish. Good for her! Is this what the Catholic church has come to in the DoR? Shame on the DoR!

  10. I agree with the 94 yr. old female parishioner at Annunciation who stated they already gave their money to build the newer church to have it sold right under them.
    What many may not know is the alternate plan our former pastor, Fr. Michael Mayer, presented to the D.O.R. to keep the new Annunciation open. He presented his plan to all the parishioners at both Annunciation and Light of Christ ahead of time. He spent much time crunching figures, etc. and stated that by selling the old church which was being used as a hall, and the adjoining parking lot, the results would work out the same for keeping the parish solvent. He told us that he was presenting his plan to the D.O.R. After all his hard work, the D.O.R. would not even consider his plan and had already made up their minds to sell the newer church which parishioners had sacrificed to build.

    There has been some talk among some ushers and parishioners that an Episcopal congregation has shown some interest in purchasing the renovated Annunciation as it would be the right size to serve their community. I have no way of confirming the information with the D.O.R., but nothing would surprise. Usually what these individuals have said has been right on the mark.

    There have been elderly parishioners who have climbing and ambulation issues coming to St. Andrew Church since the newer handicap accessible Annunciation was sold by the D.O.R. St. Andrew Church, which is also handicap accessible with a new state of the art handicap bathroom, is also being sold. In both the newer Annunciation and St. Andrew Church there is adequate space for a deaf interpreter and also adequate space for wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and assisting people to get through and around. I might add,it is much easier for someone to push off of a stationary pew to stand up than a metal folding chair which can slide or collapse.


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