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Praying, Waiting for St. James

Bishop Richard Lennon has 60 days to appeal the Vatican’s decision to overturn his decision to close 13 parishes — including Lakewood’s St. James.

For the past two years, the parishioners of the shuttered in Lakewood have been hoping and praying.

Now, they’re just waiting.

After the Vatican recently to close 13 parishes in the Cleveland area, the bishop has 60 days to appeal the decision. 

According to sources, if he doesn’t, it’s likely that the church will reopen.

“It’s in the bishop’s court at this point,” said Toni Sabo, president of the Friends of St. James. “He’s got the keys.” 

Sabo said members of the organization haven’t heard anything from the Cleveland Diocese, despite sending out a letter to the bishop and hosting a press conference last week.

“He hasn’t really said anything,” she said. “We’re just waiting. We’ve waited two years for the Vatican to speak and now we have to wait a little more. We’re very hopeful.” 

According to a decree sent from Rome, and received March 8, the Cleveland Diocese failed to follow proper procedure. The decree notes that under canon law, Lennon should have consulted the Presbyteral Council before closing the parish.

“They weren’t little mistakes,” Sabo said.

Bob Tayek, the spokesman for the Cleveland Diocese, said the diocese is weighing its options regarding a possible appeal. 

“The process of the review of those rulings has been undertaken and remains under review by the bishop and his advisors,” he said. “Those decrees are all under review.”

Meanwhile, Sabo said that parishioners are just waiting. And praying.

She and her husband have attended the church for 40 years. All five of their children were baptized and confirmed there — two of them were married there.

“We’ve had a lot of history there,” Sabo said. “We were a very strong community. We weren’t a dying community. We were very vibrant.”

In fact, the Vatican noted in its decree that the parish was a “financially stable” parish with m ore than 1,500 families. 

“We began to call ourselves Roaming Catholics because we’ve been going to church to church, but I haven’t found anything else like St. James,” Sabo said.  “It’s an asset to the community — not just the catholic community — but the entire community.

“It’s worth saving.”

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