Monday, March 16, 2009
Bishop Richard Lennon will meet with the pastors of closed parishes and two lay leaders on Wednesday, March 25, from 1 to 3 pm at the Center for Pastoral Leadership, 28700 Euclid Avenue, Wickliffe. to discuss the implementation of the restructuring.
Here are excerpts from a letter to pastors of six Summit County parishes that will be closed or merged. Click on the headline to see the full letter or download a PDF copy from the diocesan website.
Having considered your proposed cluster plan and the consultation I received in the diocesan review process and from the Presbyteral Council, I now present my decisions
regarding consolidation as they affect Annunciation, St. Bernard, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary, Sacred
Heart of Jesus and St. Matthew Parishes:
• St. Matthew Parish will continue.
• Annunciation and St. John the Baptist Parishes will merge, with the worship site at Annunciation.
• St. Bernard and St. Mary Parishes will merge, with the worship site at St. Bernard.
(See comment on schools below.)
• Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish will close.
[extraneous info omitted]
• I recognize how difficult it may be for the parishioners of Sacred Heart to leave their parish, and I respect how much this parish has meant to parishioners. As a diocese we are committed to assist parishioners from parishes that close or merge in being welcomed by the members of other parishes. It is my earnest hope that these parishioners will find and contribute to new life and vitality in their new parishes.
• I also recognize how difficult it may be for the parishioners of St. John the Baptist and St. Mary to leave their worship site. I believe the two parish mergers provide an opportunity for new life and revitalization that can bring together the experiences, resources and hopes of parishioners from each parish in creating a new community that fully embraces everyone. • The decisions support the ministry to the Hispanic community centered at St. Bernard, recognizing the need of their language and tradition to deepen their practice of the Catholic faith. The pastoral care of Hungarian and Slovak parishioners and their language needs will need to be considered.
Please know and make public that those who wish to appeal my decision may write to me giving reasons for their request that I revoke or emend the decision. In accord with Canon 1734.2, the petition must be made within the period of ten useful days from the legitimate notification of the decision, i.e. by 27 March.
Regarding the other issues and challenges in my 28 May 2007 letter:
• St. Matthew and the two newly merged parishes will need to collaborate in the areas stated in the plan regarding evangelization, community services and food programs that serve the surrounding neighborhoods, ministry to the homebound and nursing homes, youth ministry, ministry to senior citizens, wellness programs, adult faith formation, and sharing personnel as well as practices to improve financial stability. I appreciate the commitment to sustain a strong Catholic presence in downtown Akron and to explore collaborative possibilities with Catholic Charities. • Consideration will also need to be given to the possibility of enhancing service to the wider community through a Church in the City partnership developed on a cluster-cluster basis.
• I encourage the parishes to do all that is possible to engage all of the faithful in regularly attending the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy. The celebration of the Mass according to the Church's teaching must be the priority in inviting people to the community of faith.
• St. Mary School will continue along with St. Matthew School at this time. At the very least, a clear visible model of inter-parish collaboration will be essential to sustaining the long term presence of Catholic schools. Further school planning will need to carefully address enrollment and financial trends, regional needs and opportunities, and possible consolidation to assure strong, stable schools. [extraneous information omitted]
As a first step in follow-up to this letter, I have scheduled a special diocesan meeting for the pastors, administrators and parish life coordinators from each parish that will close or merge, and two lay leaders whom they see as crucial to leading an effective transition process. The purpose of this meeting will be to be present together in this very challenging time, and to introduce resources to support the work that needs to be done. I will be present with Deacon Jim Armstrong and members of my staff to present the new Consolidation Manual and review the steps for closing and merging parishes. This meeting will be held on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the Center for Pastoral Leadership, 28700 Euclid Avenue, Wickliffe. For parishes closing or merging, please confirm your attendance by faxing the enclosed RSVP form to Deacon James Armstrong at 216-696-5824 by 20 March with the names of those who will attend. Attendance is required even if someone is appealing my decision.