The Cleveland Catholic Diocese has announced the names of the pastors who will be leading four of the 11 closed churches reopening in the Northeast Ohio area.
Rev. Daniel J. Reed has been appointed to lead as pastor of St. Mary's parish in Akron effective Monday July 16th.
Bishop Richard Lennon previously ordered the churches to close three years ago due to financial concerns. Recently, the Vatican ordered the churches reopened.
Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Lennon is meeting this week with parishioners from several closed churches ordered by the Vatican to be re-opened, including St. John The Baptist and St. Marys in Akron.
Diocese spokesman Bob Tayek tells AkronNewsNow the diocese is just beginning to plan for the reopening of the churches, many of which have been closed for at least two years. " The bishop's meeting with these folks basically in hopes in establishing first of all what did the parish look like when it was first closed, and what are they looking forward to, what do they think it will look like, and the issues that have to be contended with."
Tayek says the first issue that must be addressed is who will lead each church. " That's what is being dealt with now at the diocesan level, to establish those individuals, because that person really will become the leader of the parish," says Tayek.
Bob Tayek says in some cases the re-opened churches will have to share priests or administrators, due to a shortage of priests.
Tayek says Bishop Lennon also wants to know how the churches plan to resolve the issues that had them closed in the first place such as the size of the congregation and finances, will they be financially able to fund church activities.
Tayek says the diocese has set no firm timetable for re-reopening the churches, but indicates the process will be expedited to make the re-openings happen as soon as possible.
The reopening of Catholic churches in Akron and Cleveland is good news to worshipers who were displaced by the closures. The question now: How long until the churches are actually back in service?
"In some cases, it could be weeks, but in some it could be months," said Cleveland Catholic Diocese Spokesman Bob Tayek.
Bishop Richard Lennon announced Tuesday that he would not appeal a Vatican directive that he reopen the churches he had earlier ordered to be closed down.
Tayek says the first major task is to find priests to fill the empty spots - a task that could be challenging since there is an overall shortage of priests. It's also one of the reasons, according to Tayek, that led to the church closings.
Tayek says after priests are assigned, they'll assess the logistics and building needs to establish a clearer timeline in each parish.
Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Lennon holding a news conference this morning to release the Diocese's 2011 report on the impact of the closing and consolidation of churches and parishes in Cleveland and Akron.
Lennon addressed the reasons why he had to make very unpopular decisions to close several parishes. " Those six parishes that I had to close before this all began officially, they literally could not pay their bills. They had no money," says Lennon.
Lennon says the consolidation and reorganization plan is making progress with many of the merged parishes going forward with new programs and initiatives, but there are still areas that needed to be strengthened.
Lennon said the sale of 26 closed churches created more than $19 million that would go to existing parishes. Of that money, $4.9 million is paying debts and operating expenses, $7.8 million is going back to existing churches, and the diocese has a remaining balance of $6.8 million.
Lennon says the Diocese has started a new parish assistance fund. " We really are concerned about the parishes, and therefore we've started this new fund, the Parish Assis
Bishop Lennon says while the Catholic faith is growing in other parts of the country church membership has been declining in the Northeast, causing a growing number of church closings.
Bishop Lennon reported to the community on the closed and merged parishes which resulted from the Diocesan reconfiguration plan. An update account of the closed parish cash related to sales, transferred savings, expenses and activities was included in the Bishop's report.
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