On Cleveland's West 22nd street, people came to mark the exact year anniversary (30 June) of the closing of the 58th parish in the five years of the episcopal reign of Richard Lennon. Each parish's name was read out, and an old fire alarm bell was tolled for each. They prayed several prayers, including a prayer for the Divine Mercy. They sang several songs, including Faith of Our Fathers.
They told of the news elsewhere too. Mater Dolorosa parish in Holyoke, Massachusetts just started a sit-in vigil in their parish. Yesterday, a church was dedicated in Westerville, Ohio that bought a statue from the still appealing St. Peter, Cleveland.
They spoke of the hurt they felt, and the deceptions that occurred because of Lennonism. They had warm anecdotes of their parishes. A story of a man in his 90s pulling the plug on Lennon at St. Casimir's was applauded. They spoke of the mismanagement, and misrule in the American Church.Fr. Sandor Siklodi came back from Chicago to talk to his parish and friends. People spoke on the steps of the Hungarian parish of St. Emeric (Imre).
A crowd of 250 maintained for approaching three hours. Some left early, some came late, so that some more than that came in total.
Michael Polensek, the councilman from Collinwood, spoke of the importance to the neighborhood each church is. When a church goes away, the city around it decays.
Many speakers, from several parishes, and the officers of Endangered Catholics spoke. Some spoke very well, some spoke too long. Each held passion for their closed parish, and the fate of others.
The crowd was very attentive throughout, and occasionally responded enthusiastically.
Dr. Kenneth Chalker, Senior Pastor, University Circle United Methodist Church, perhaps stole the show. He spoke of the 59th parish that closed — the spirit and feeling of ecumenism. He spoke of the welcome and fellowship, he felt for the previous ordinary, Anthony Pilla. The new bishop, Richard Lennon, who except for one early appearance, when advised that it was a good political move, had no interest in ecumenism, or anything that approached it.
Some cameramen came, including one, believed to be, from the diocese. He left early. There was no police presence at all. It was a very peaceful demonstration.