For the first time since it closed in October 2009, Akron's St. John the Baptist Catholic Church held a mass on Sunday.
The Brown Street church was one of a number of churches closed by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese due to finances, but ordered reopened by the Vatican.
Sunday was a return for Father Jonathan Zingales, a former St. John the Baptist administrator who is now pastor of both that church, and at the merged Visitation of Mary.
Did he think St. John would reopen?
"No," Father Zingales replied with a hearty laugh when asked by AkronNewsNow.com. "In all honesty, I did not think it was going to happen...because when we closed, it was so small."
That low past attendance - "there weren't a lot of people here," as Father Zingales put it - was on his mind, and also on the minds of the parishioners who filled the lower pews and the parking lot at St. John.
They hope that those coming back for the event of the church's reopening will come back week after week.
But this Sunday, parishioners like Sarah Woodard were glad to have St. John the Baptist back in the church fold...
"I had faith in it, I really did, and I believed that it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time," Woodward told AkronNewsNow.com. "But I never lost faith that it would never not reopen."
Parishoner Mary Keblesh has always gone to St. John the Baptist, and says she's back.
"I went to grade school here, for kindergarten through eighth grade," Keblesh tells AkronNewsNow.com, "and I've been a parishoner here all my life."
Father Zingales was very happy for the turnout, at the church where he was administrator and resident over 6 years ago, but knows Sunday was just a start at St. John the Baptist. He says he prays people will keep coming back.
"I'm glad they came today, but I certainly hope they continue to come in the future," Father Zingales says. "Because that's what they need."
Parishoners noticed that many of the church artifacts haven't been brought back yet. That'll likely happen in the coming weeks.