Toledo Parishioners Persevere
Former parishioners from the closed St. Mary parish in rural Paulding County, Ohio, have three times prevented the Toledo diocese from removing 27 stained glass windows from their church. The windows were imported from Germany in 1907 and installed when the church was built. Parishioners hired an attorney to consider legal action, and a member of the Auglaize Historical Society collected over 600 signatures on a petition to save the century-old building.
St. Mary’s Church in Junction, Ohio—from left: Leo Sholl, Gene Weidenhamer, Sue Brown, her daughter, Deedi Miller and Janet Sholl, wife of Leo, band together to save windows in St. Mary’s Church in Junction, Ohio. Several of the windows were donated by Leo Sholl’s family.
Photo by Lori King, The Toledo Blade.
On November 29, a judge granted a temporary restraining order to keep the diocese from removing the windows and other items from the church. The order was filed by Janet Sholl, whose family donated four of the stained-glass windows bearing names of her family members.
From the time the closing was announced, parishioners inquired about the windows, even offering to bear the cost of having them removed. Along the way, Sholl alleges the diocese gave conflicting and evasive responses.
Becky Keller, a member of the parish for 21 years, said many parishioners are confused: “We are hearing all these conflicting stories about some windows being sacred and other windows (from other closed churches) not being sacred. A lot of people feel our church is a historic building and that the windows should remain there. They don’t understand the need to get them out and the way this is being handled.”
St. Mary’s had about 200 members when it was closed by Bishop Leonard Blair last July.The closings and realignments cut the number of parishes in the Toledo diocese from 157 in 2005 to 131 today. Many believe that Bishop Blair hopes to eventually have just one parish per county in the rural areas of this 19-county diocese.
A spokesperson for the Toledo diocese said church officials were “following standard procedure with all closed parishes.”
(from news reports in the Toledo Blade and Journal Gazette)