Priests Tell Parishioners Their Churches Are Closing

By Lisa Roberson
The Chronicle-Telegram
March 15, 2009

The news came as no surprise to the Rev. Edmund Goldbach, pastor of Holy Cross Church.

Holy Cross, a Catholic church with longstanding Polish roots and a dwindling congregation, is closing.

Goldbach received the news in a couriered letter Saturday from Bishop Richard Lennon of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

However, as pastor of the West Avenue church for the last three years, Goldbach said he was prepared for the revelation.

“Yes, we got our letter, and we will close, but there are no surprises here,” he said. “The size of the church is getting smaller, and it’s not as ethnic as it once was.”

Holy Cross is one of two Elyria churches slated to close due to a mass reorganization the diocese is undertaking in an effort to redefine the Catholic presence in Northeast Ohio.

Sacred Heart will also close.

Left intact and poised for continued service, St. Jude, St. Agnes and St. Mary churches will all share the role of helping Holy Cross and Sacred Heart through the closing transition period, said cluster spokeswoman Sister Mary Dorothy Tecca of St. Mary Church.

“In the letter, the bishop said that he believes these will be three strong parishes that will be able to address the needs of all Catholics in Elyria, and that is something we have been saying for a long time,” Sister Tecca said. “We are the Catholic Church of Elyria, and we want to do things together.”

In Lorain, there were no tears as parishioners said goodbye to the Rev. David Novak outside Holy Trinity Church on Saturday afternoon.

He smiled as he shook hands and patted the backs of the faithful.

When approached by a somber man who grasped his hand and said, “As the days dwindle down to a precious few,” Novak reminded him to embrace the news of Holy Trinty’s merger with St. Mary Church as a beautiful beginning.

“This is not the end.” he said. “We have a lot of work to do in the future.”

For some, the news was bittersweet.

Holy Trinity was the church where Ann Marshall, a parishioner since 1986, said her mother-in-law’s wake was held and the church she thought she would attend for years to come. She joined the church after spending years at St. Stanislaus, which also will close under the diocese’s plan to redefine the Catholic presence in eight counties.

“I guess you can say we will have to move on and know that God is everywhere,” said Marshall of Lorain. “They are just doing what they have to do. They can’t afford to keep all these churches open.”

A complete list of church closings will be made available today by the diocese.

In west and central Lorain, the largest church cluster in the diocese, Lennon went against the cluster’s recommendation to merge Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Stanislaus, St. Ladislaus, St. Joseph and Holy Trinity and reorganize with a new name at Holy Trinity. Lennon instead elected to have Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Peter parishes continue, while Holy Trinity and St. Mary parishes will merge as one parish with a site to be determined later.

St. Joseph, St. Ladislaus and St. Stanislaus parishes will close.

Information on the south Lorain cluster was not available. However, a committee of members and priests said it would prefer to see St. Vitus and Ss. Cyril and Methodius merge with St. John. They would reorganize into a new parish with a new pastor and a new name.

Goldbach, of Holy Cross, said it will be up to individual parishioners to decide which remaining Elyria church to attend in the future.

As for him, he has no idea where the diocese will send him next. He has no plans to retire.

A closing date has not been selected for Holy Cross or Sacred Heart churches, Sister Tecca said. The date for final Mass will be determined later, and Lennon will conduct the final service at each church.

Before shuttering the doors for a final time, parishes are to follow Canon Law and Lennon’s directive as to how they should go about discontinuing their services and the distribution of sacred church artifacts.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or


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