Last EucharistSaint Gregory began in Birdtown of Lakewood on the the corner of Quail and Thrush, back in 1905. A wooden church was constructed in 1906. A permanent priest came in 1922. The present brick church was built in 1925, the interior redone in 1955. A school and hall building was finished in 1962. The church was remodeled inside and out in a more Byzantine fashion in 1980. Domes replaced a steeple, communion rail was taken out, and the iconostasis put in, as was the great chandelier. In the last few years the congregation became small.
The day was sunny, and cold. The sky was devoid of white clouds, a smoggy haze was visible in the distance; while in it the color was not apparent, but driving over the freeway and viewing forward without the obstruction of buildings the nicotine colored smog was visible above the horizon. It was a sad day.
To-day this church and parish, within the Eparchy of Parma of the Ruthenians celebrated their last Divine Liturgy. Bishop John Kudrick came, and delivered the homily. Still a parish is to be perpetual. The homily skirted this. Other congregations about the area have also closed. Some of the same reasons were given as others were given before, and unlike the Latin Diocese of Cleveland, some of them actually applied.
The Liturgy was in English, while some of the sung ordinary was in Old Church Slavonic. In the Byzantine Liturgy, the laity is more involved. The chanting is sweet, elegant, sad, joyful, exuberant, and majestic. This Advent much of the English speaking world has been introduced to a new translation. Some of the 'changes' are similar to the Byzantine standard (I believe...of all things visible and invisible...one in essence...and was incarnate ...).
As people were exiting, a woman passing by inquired of the church. I told her it was the closing service. She started talking about cats. I tend not to listen about the subject. She was living nearby, and a woman had lived there before her was feeding the cats that came about the church for 13 or 14 years, two now elderly cats still. She worried about their shelter and care.
A priest of my acquaintance stopped, and greeted me talking of the discomforting weather. "Yes it is cold, but the sun is keeping the snow away, and it is easy to drive through [the absence of it]."
Another woman, was talking to herself as she walked along the sidewalk, not thinking anyone was hearing (or listening). "What am I going to do, now that the church is closed? Where am I going to go."