Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Last Casimiri Vigil

festooning balloons of Polish national colors, stained glass and doors still boarded, and ivy growing
To-day was the 139th Sunday meeting of St. Casimir's parish in exile. Cleveland's Bishop, Richard Lennon, conducted a Mass of Eviction on 8 November 2009. On 15 November 2009, the first gathering of the parish took place outside, on the street and sidewalk, before the fence that surrounds the church. There has been a continuous Sunday meeting of the parish ever since. One additional service occurred the evening the good news came, from Rome (Wednesday, 7 March 2012).

Casimir was alone in the streets from November 2009, until the following summer, when additional parishes also began meeting in the streets. Next Sunday, Casimir will make the long trek from the street to the inside of the building. The four other parishes (SS. Emeric, Patrick, Wendelin, James) will be in the street for a time yet. In that span, American religious history was made. A tyrannical bishop attempted to extinguish a parish that would not surrender, would not perish; to borrow from the Polish anthem, 'Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła (Poland has not yet perished)'. Tenacity, constancy, perseverance, determination, heart, and stubbornness prevailed; but not of the bishop, but of the people.

Saint Casimir is a Polish nationality parish. Now, the Poles have a long history of standing up against tyranny. Often, they are not afraid to contest and to fight. Sometimes, they fight for themselves, and sometimes for others. In this instance, they did both. No bishop will ever attempt such an evisceration of a diocese again. For, Saint Casimir was not the only parish closed in the Roman-rite diocese of Cleveland; Bishop Lennon closed 58 parishes. Casimir and several other parishes successfully appealed to Rome for the reversal of the extinction orders. Rome corrected the bishop. This is a message to the local episcopacy. Yet untold, and unknown parishes have been saved from future destruction, many will not realise. The battle was fought in Cleveland.

pre-service chatting amongst parishioners; the final meeting was delayed. One of the two prayer leaders, Wojciech Fleszar was late arriving from Mass at St. John Kanty. The final phone call came in from St. Patrick West Park to St. Casimir. Sally Prohaska calls Joseph Feckanin to start the vigils together. It will be over for the Casimiri, the Patricios will be outside next week again.
mid service of St. Casimir-in-exile: For those familiar with the Old Testament, it is a parallel to the ending of the Babylonian exile, when Israel returned to Jerusalem
at one point, people were asked to reflect on the exile odyssey and the vigil community
some Casimiri with Solidarity flag near statue of St. Michael the Archangel
Maureen likes the good humour and buzzing sound of the South African plastic horn (vuvuzela). She toots a farewell.
Polish flag and balloons before the Guardian Angel and Child statue

1 comment:

  1. What a journey! For those who don't believe in miracles, I have experienced many at St. Casimir's including the greatest, the Church re-opening next week. Thanks to all who helped to make this possible and never gave up hope. It has been an honor to stand outside your Church these last 2.75 years. Can't wait to finally see the inside! Thanks, for chronicling this course of events for history. I hope someone will make a documentary of this for all Catholics and people of faith to see.