CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) – It was a bittersweet Easter Sunday mass for the congregation at St. Peter's Catholic Church.
Sunday marked the church's final service before closing their doors for good.
This, after the Catholic Diocese decided to close or merge dozens of churches throughout Northeast Ohio.
Many parishioners, angry with Bishop Lennon's decision, are refusing to merge at their new designated locations.
Parishioner Gary Lucarelli tells 19 Action News that "We have leased space on Euclid Avenue. The community will meet there. We don't know what form of worship there will be but there will be worship. The Bishop closed this church, but he cannot suppress this community. It will go on forever."
Bishop Lennon was planning to say the last mass at St. Peter's next week, but called it off after parishioners threatened to boycott the service. His decision to close this vibrant church has rocked the faith of some.
Parishioner Richard Lauzau said "it's hard to feel positive about organized religion when this can be done at the whim of an individual."
St. Peter's current website reminds the faithful to sign-up for their new online address to get information about the new community gathering site. It also serves a reminder to the diocese how unhappy the congregation is about closing their doors.
According to St. Peter's website:
"Members of the parish council met with Bishop Lennon in early May to present once again our case for why we believe such a vibrant and active parish should remain open. After that meeting, the bishop wrote to the council and stated that he would not rescind his order to suppress our parish, which has served in the city of Cleveland for 156 years.
This is indeed a tragic decision for both our church and our city. We urge everyone to continue to voice their objections to this decision. The loss of St. Peter's is a loss of a vital piece of Cleveland history and a vital force in the presence of our city today."
Through its 150 year history, Saint Peter Church has been a strong and vibrant presence in the city during times of prosperity and growth and equally during periods of need and decline.