Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bishops, bullet holes, and butts

Some parishes were saved from Lennon's destruction. One that survived, and was not certain until they read the letter of 14 March '09, was Saint Michael the Archangel. Saint Michael's had some old debt then demanded by the diocese. Nearby Blessed Sacrament, St. Procop, and St. Barbara had cash reserves and were closed. Saint Michael is now debt free, money from Blessed Sacrament's patrimony was used to pay off the bishop's demands.
El Señor de los Milagros (with the Trinity; Mary, Mother of Sorrow; Mary Magdalen)
Saint Michael's had been a German parish, it is now a territorial parish with a congregation of the Americas. There are English, and Spanish language Masses offered. There is a lively sacramental and devotional life at Michael's. There is a Good Friday procession between La Sagrada Familia and Michael's stopping at Patrick's. There is an October procession of the Peruvian celebration of El Señor de los Milagros, people parade in purple. Holy Name Society is active, as are some other parish organisations.

The first pastor was Bohemian born, Joseph Koudelka. He was administrator of St. Procop, while he was a deacon. He was later pastor for more than one church simultaneously. He was sent to Europe to recruit priests for Slavonic parishes. He was the first auxiliary bishop in Cleveland. Few English speaking priests came to his ordination 1908. Later he was a bishop in Wisconsin.

Koudelka oversaw the building of Saint Michael's, he was also an artist. It is an example of high gothic revival, now blackened from years of steel mill, factory, and vehicle soot. It, once even more than now, did not have undecorated space; an art term would be 'horror vacui' or 'cenophobia'. Its complement of statues was over an hundred. This artistic busyness, in a church, is meant to be both beautiful and instructive. What is physically distinct from a great distance and many spots are the two dissimilar spires. A while back, July 2009 (after the letter) the larger spire's cross was taken down, at the insistence of a restoration contractor. The verdigris copper cross had been there for more than a century. It's wooden base suffered some rot. It has a few bullet holes. It now stands, near the center of the nave wall, near the main entrance. A replica cross is planned to replace it, when funds allow. A continuing restoration is in progress, inside and out.
exit hole
In one of the holy water founts in the narthex someone dropped a cigarette butt. It was dissolving. The doors were wide open. A beautiful church, with a welcoming congregation is open to even disturbed, and disrespectful people. There were several incidents in the past. The building has been spray painted. The neighborhood is not so comfortably hospitable. I remember, indistinctly, the sexual assault of a religious sister by a man hired for occasional work.

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