Cleveland Catholic Diocese Reveals Churches to Close, Cleveland City Council Wants to Fight to Keep Them Open

Fox 8
March 15, 2009

[with video]

CLEVELAND -- Council members are speaking out about the closing of local Catholic parishes.

The topic of trying to save some of these churches was brought up at the Cleveland City Council meeting Monday night.

Council members were saying that these churches are critical to their neighborhoods and that the proposed closings touch virtually every corner of the city.

Council members called the churches the "soul" of the city and that if the closings go through as planned many neighborhoods will lose their heart.

Council members want to fight to keep these churches alive, but know that the odds are against them. Churches are losing money in neighborhoods that are losing population.

Nonetheless, council members say it's a battle worth fighting.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese says there will be 52 fewer parishes by June 30, 2010. Twenty-nine parishes will close, while 41 have been instructed to merge with one or more neighboring parishes -- resulting in 18 new combined parishes. This is one of the most massive reorganizations in the history of the eight county Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

At a news conference Sunday, The Diocese released the following list of churches to close:

  • Conversion of St. Paul-Cleveland - The monastery of the Poor Clares will continue at the former site, as will the Friary of the Capuchin Friars

  • Blessed Sacrament-Cleveland

  • Epiphany-Cleveland

  • Our Lady of Mercy-Cleveland

  • Sacred Heart of Jesus-Cleveland

  • St. Adalbert - Cleveland

  • St. Barbara - Cleveland

  • St. Casimir - Cleveland

  • St. Cecilia - Cleveland

  • St. Emeric - Cleveland

  • St. Francis - Cleveland - Elementary school remains open at site

  • St. Hyacinth- Cleveland

  • St. Ignatius of Antioch - Cleveland - Elementary school remains open at site

  • St. Lawrence- Cleveland

  • St. Peter - Cleveland

  • St. Procop - Cleveland

  • St. Wendelin - Cleveland

  • SS. Philip and James - Cleveland

  • St. Hedwig - Lakewood

  • St. James- Lakewood

  • St. Margaret of Hungary- Orange Village

  • Holy Cross - Elyria

  • Sacred Heart of Jesus - Elyria

  • St. Joseph - Lorain

  • St. Ladislaus - Lorain

  • St. Stanislaus - Lorain

  • Sacred Heart of Jesus - Akron

  • St. Hedwig - Akron

  • SS. Cyril and Methodius - Barberton

Letters were sent to area pastors and read during weekend masses. In Euclid for example, which currently has six Catholic churches, Bishop Richard Lennon concurred with the cluster's recommendation; St. Christine will merge with Holy Cross at Holy Cross, St. Felicitas and St. Paul merge at St. Felicitas, and St. William & St. Robert merge at St. William.

In his letter to one of the pastors, Bishop Lennon wrote, "These decisions address the cluster realities with regard to demographics and the total number of people and households served by parishes in this cluster. Moreover, the decisions respond to the long term financial realities of parishes in this cluster. Having only three parishes will provide for pastoral care in an equitable manner.

Fox 8 has learned St. Colman will merge with St. Stephen. A new parish will form with a new name housed at St. Stephen. .

The diocese has nearly 225 parishes. Approximately 40 percent of them are operating at a deficit. Church leaders say the movement of Catholics to outlying suburbs, a shrinking number of priests and dwindling collections are all factors driving the consolidation. However necessary, the process is painful for the faithful with strong ties to their parish, in some cases for generations. "It's like a death in the family," says Father Edward Smith, pastor of St. Christine's.


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