Sunday, July 1, 2012

Penultimate gathering of St. Casimir-in-exile

a videographer from WJW-8 came to record historyfastening a supporting banner
a Catholic parish in communal worship

In a few days, the new pastor of St. Stanislaus Cleveland, Fr. Eric Orzech, will become the new pastor of St. Casimir. Cleveland will have two parishes named 'St. Casimir' open: this old, constant, tenacious parish of a Polish heritage, and the renamed parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help of a Lithuanian heritage. So far, most of the 'new' pastors of the homecoming parishes are also pastors of a never closed parish in the same 'cluster' group as the dormant, re-opening parish [Stanislaus & Casimir, Bernard & Mary, Annunciation & John the Baptist, Clement & James]. That staffing decision took more than four months. Exiled non-diocesan priests [some who would come back] were not candidates.

Saint Casimir will have its Homecoming Mass at 11.30 a.m., Sunday, 15 July 2012. That means the last street gathering of Saint Casimir-in-exile will be this upcoming Sunday at 11.30 a.m.. The Mass of Eviction was 8 November 2009. From 15 November 2009, there has been a continuous Sunday meeting of the parish. There was an additional service the day the good news arrived from Rome. Each gathering was held on the street and sidewalk before the fence that surrounds the church. Next week will be the last, #140. In that span, 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)'. Of course, filing the proper papers of protest in the prescribed protocol helped.

After the autumn closing of Casimir, the parish was alone in the streets. The following summer, four additional parishes were meeting in the streets. Now, Casimir will make the long trek from the street to the inside of the building. The four other parishes will be in the street for a time yet.

The local press, and the Los Angeles Times, had reported the story. And with that, and the other parishioners from several other diocesan parishes, no bishop will ever try such an evisceration of a diocese again. Untold parishes have been saved from future destruction. The battle was fought in Cleveland.

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