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Parishwatch Ohio

Diocese of Cleveland

Vatican again extends deadline for Cleveland appeals 10/23/2011

The Vatican has given itself another extension to review appeals from churches closed last year by Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.


In wake of church closings 'Roamin' Catholics' look for home 8/21/2011

They call themselves "Roamin' Catholics," traveling from church to church each Sunday, looking for a new place to worship since Cleveland's oldest black Catholic church was shut down more than a year ago.


Cleveland City Council delays consideration of stained-glass legislation


Cleveland City Council on Monday delayed a vote on controversial legislation that would have allowed the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to remove stained glass windows from closed churches without first receiving the approval of the city Landmarks Commission.

Cleveland Churches wait on news from appeals 2/16/2011

A group of Catholic parishioners from churches in the Cleveland Diocese heard good news on Wednesday from the diocese of Springfield, Masachusetts.

Bishop warns the Rev. Robert Marrone to stop breakaway church Masses 1/23/2011

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.


Ex-parishioners mark anniversary of St. Stan's closing 9/28/10

Two pastors calling on the Vatican to stop Cleveland church closings 9/25/10


Bishop Richard Lennon, breakway St. Peter Church in Cleveland a standoff



Bishop Lennon on church closings 9/19/10

Priest, trustees from breakaway St. Peter parish willing to meet with Bishop Lennon 8/23/10

The priest and board of trustees of a breakaway congregation said Sunday that they have agreed to meet with Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to discuss the group's unauthorized worshipping.


St. Peter split from diocese symbolizes defining moment for all Catholics



Bishop Richard Lennon seeks meeting with breakaway Catholics 8/17/10

Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese wants to meet with the priest and lay leaders of a breakaway congregation to try to bring them back into the fold, a spokesman for the diocese said Monday.


Voice from the rustbelt re: Eucharistic Solidarity Mass 8/8/10

Vatican ruling upholds Catholic bishops' right to close stable parishes 7/20/10


Protestors leave closed Cleveland church peacefully 7/1/10

About six protestors who locked themselves inside St. Emeric Catholic Church Wednesday night, the last of 50 parishes to be shuttered in a massive downsizing, left peacefully late this afternoon.

Cleveland's Catholic Church closures leave ethnic enclaves dispirited 6/14/10

Proud Eastern European communities fight to save what they see as a cultural heritage.

Vatican panel extends deadline for reviewing appeals of Cleveland-area Catholic churches ordered to close 4/9/10

At least seven churches ordered closed by Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese received letters from the Vatican this week, extending the deadline for reviewing the churches' appeals of the closings.

Final Mass at downtown St. Peter Catholic Church leaves 'an empty tomb' 4/4/10


Catholic priest, the Rev. Bob Begin, challenges Bishop Richard Lennon on church closing 3/12/10

A Catholic priest who saved his church from closing last year by convincing Bishop Richard Lennon to change his mind, is now publicly challenging the bishop on the closings of other churches.


Cleveland Catholic Diocese says money from 'suppressed' churches could follow parishioners 1/30/10

A grassroots group trying to stop the ongoing closings of Catholic churches claims the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is shuttering some parishes just to grab financial assets worth millions of dollars.


Cleveland's Landmarks Commission proposes 6 more Catholic churches for protection under historical designation 1/25/10


Catholic protest group urges boycott of collection basket over Cleveland-area church closings 12/16/09

A grassroots group fighting the ongoing closing of churches in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, is urging parishioners to boycott Sunday collections.


Catholics deserve to be heard on church closings 12/16/09


Walk-outs, protests mark Holy Trinity's closing, while final service at St. Mary's quiet, subdued 12/14/09

St. Casimir Church advocates protest, call for it to reopen 11/29/09

About 100 Polish-Americans bowed their heads in somber prayer and song today in front of a chain-link fence that surrounds boarded-up St. Casimir Catholic Church on Cleveland’s East Side.


Diocese reorganization hits ethnic, minority parishes 7/13/08

Church cluster initiative is coming together 1/3/08

Vibrant Parish Life

Cleveland Parishes in Red, Financial Trial Pending. Officials from the Cleveland diocese are holding regional meetings with priest and lay leaders to review finances and demographics that are driving parish reconfiguration along with the priest shortage. They report 2006 expenses exceeded revenues at 45% of 231 parishes and 80 parishes are behind on their diocesan assessments. By 2030 the diocese projects it will have 151 active diocesan priests. Meanwhile the trial of former diocesan chief financial officer, Joseph Smith has been delayed until August. Smith and another former diocesan employee Anton Zgoznik claim a full review of diocesan financial documents will exonerate them. The judge has not ruled on their 40-page motion to open diocesan financial records. (Spring 07)

Cleveland FutureChurch Encourages Use of Parish Life Coordinators FutureChurch members in the Cleveland diocese personally delivered the Save Our Parish Community resource packet to parish council presidents in over 50 parishes and Catholic organizations in the diocese. The resource is intended to contribute to discerning next steps in parish clustering, and advocates keeping vibrant parishes open with a parish life coordinator rather than close them simply because no priest is available. In May, the diocese will confirm parish cluster assignments announced in January and issue “challenges” to each cluster. It is rumored that as many as 30 parishes, many in poorer urban areas, could be merged or closed over the next several years. (Spring 07)

Cleveland FutureChurch Meets with Bishop, Educates Parishes. In January, Cleveland FutureChurch members sent the best practices for preserving vibrant parishes statement, “Do Not Stifle the Spirit!” to all priest and pastoral minister in the diocese as well as to its 500 local members. All were also invited to hear Jesuit Fr. Bill Clark’s February 27 lecture at John Carroll University on “The Authority of the Local Parish.” The Cleveland Diocese just announced parish clusters after a four year “Vibrant Parish Life” process which involved widespread consultation with laity.

In January FutureChurch leadership also met with Bishop Richard Lennon to discuss among other things, the best practices statement. A special concern FutureChurch raised were findings from a 2003 national study showing that 40% of merged parishes lose parishioners whereas parishes kept open with parish directors were more likely to increase parishioners. Bishop Lennon felt FutureChurch’s materials were too focused on the priest shortage. In his view Cleveland parish reconfigurations are based more on finances and demographics than on the priest shortage. (Winter 07)


Diocese of Steubenville

Future Of Church Buildings Undecided 6/16/08

Parishioners Say Goodbye To Churches 6/7/08

Last Mass Set For Three Local Churches 6/6/08

Bishop Conlon's Letter on the signing of the "Pastoral Plan: Renewing the Church in Steubenville"


Diocese of Toledo


‘Roaming Catholics' still struggle with 2005 parish closings:  Toledo Diocese's moves affected 5,000 4/10/2011

In July, 2005, the Toledo Catholic Diocese closed 17 parishes and merged 16 others because of a growing priest shortage and changing church demographics. The reorganization was the biggest since the diocese's founding in 1911, and many of the 5,000 parishioners affected said church officials told them it was "time to move on."

Its building is demolished, but congregation goes on 1/16/2011

A  5 1/2-year battle by members of the former St. James Catholic Church to save their closed parish came to an unceremonious end when the Toledo Catholic Diocese sent a wrecking ball to raze the historic church.

Bishop Blair announces personnel changes 5/31/08

Parishioners keep St. James fight going 6/14/08

Ex-parishioners to keep up fight to reopen church 5/2/08


Toledo Parishioners sue for parish property. Parishioners from the closed St. James (Kansas, OH) and St. Joseph parishes are suing in the civil courts for ownership of parish property and bank accounts being held by the diocese. For over 100 years the parishes were the center of spiritual and social activities for vibrant rural communities. On January 16th, Judge Sumner E. Walters decreed that the Toledo Diocese’ motion to dismiss the suit, based on jurisdiction, is overruled. The case can now move on to a consideration of the issues. (Winter 07)


Diocese of Youngstown

Subsidiarity apparently effective in Youngstown parish downsizing 5/28/2010

Youngstown Diocese closes buildings, but merges congregations 3/29/10

As the Cleveland Catholic Diocese continues closing churches to reconfigure its shrinking congregations, the Youngstown diocese is getting ready to follow, with a downsizing plan to be announced in May.


Friday, March 11, 2005
Catholicism in U.S. perseveres amid troubled waters

The news that another diocesan school here will close at the end of the current school year is a painful reminder that change is difficult. As more Catholics move to the suburbs, and fewer of those who remain choose to send their children to Catholic schools, enrollment has plummeted in center-city parochial schools in Youngstown – down 90 percent since 1970 and 37 percent since 2000. Today only three Catholic schools remain within the city of Youngstown, where 16 served Catholic parents 35 years ago.

The situation reflects a 41 percent decline in the overall Youngstown population from 140,000 in 1970 to a mere 82,000 today. At the same time, membership in Catholic parishes within the city has declined 56 percent, much of it during the immediate years following the closing of the steel mills in the late 1970s. Geography is destiny, and thousands of Catholics families here and across the nation who once lived in thriving immigrant parishes within city limits have moved to the suburbs, leaving schools – and often parishes – that cannot long be supported by a dwindling population. Add to that the painful reality that the offspring of many once-staunch Catholic families are not participating in the Church as their parents and grandparents did, and one finds a recipe for struggle at best. Catholicism in the Diocese of Youngstown, the State of Ohio and the United States in general in our time perseveres amid troubled waters.

To put what has happened this week in our diocese into perspective, however, we are hardly alone in our pain. The news that the Archdiocese of Chicago will be forced to shut down 23 schools this coming June (130 since 1984, and 39 since 2000) came almost the same day that the Diocese of Toledo reported it will close 17 parishes, merge 12 to create four new parishes, and twin 11 situations where parishes will share a pastor. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee recently announced the closing of 40 parishes; this week the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced it will close 24 parishes and 10 schools this year. The Archdiocese of Boston will reportedly close dozens of parishes soon. The same scenario is being played out at parishes and schools across the country. This is clearly a time of retrenchment and re-visioning for the Catholic Church in the United States.

Curiously, all of this happens as the Church continues to grow around the world and even in this country, where an increase in numbers in recent years is largely a result of Hispanic immigration and a Hispanic birthrate higher than other segments of the Catholic population. What has happened here in the Diocese of Youngstown, while exacerbated by steel mill closings and other unemployment problems, is only part of a larger reality facing the Church across this country. Its population is aging, its active priesthood has been diminishing as elderly priests die or retire, and all who love the Faith face a real challenge in encouraging the next generation to participate more deeply — and sometimes to participate at all — in Church life. No easy task, amid an ever more secular culture vacillating between indifference and outright contempt for matters religious.

There are no simple answers to the challenges facing Catholicism in this country today. It is highly likely that more dioceses will make headlines with similar announcements of school and parish closings. In this present situation, the reality is that any diocese currently creating new parishes and building new schools is a rare diocese not experiencing the bitter medicine much of the Church in America seems forced to swallow.

Such realities cannot be denied. It should also be stressed, however, that throughout its history the Catholic Church and those who serve it have frequently been written off as dead or dying, which is far from the situation facing the Church in the United States, where Catholicism remains the largest religious denomination. Throughout Church history, Religious orders have come and gone, but new ones surface to meet new needs. When wars and politics have brought the Church low in one country, it flames anew mere decades later in another. When despots threaten believers in one place and almost extinguish the Faith there, it arises again where Christ was unknown before. Whenever hope seems difficult to find in one situation, something unforeseen arises, situations change, and this Church founded by the Lord and Savior carries on with renewed life.

At this most difficult time for the Church in America, then, let us acknowledge reality. Let us accept what cannot be changed. But let us never forget Who it is that guides this ship, especially in the midst of troubled waters.

—Lou Jacquet/Editor

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