St. Raphael Church is set to tear down structure and build anew - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

St. Raphael Church is set to tear down structure and build anew


Sunday Mass at St. Raphael Church in Bay Village was different than any other before.   

Some hearts are heavy as the congregation says goodbye to their sixty year old church building that's marked milestones in so many lives - with over eight thousand baptisms and over ten thousand first communions.   

Some are leaving their mark on the second floor balcony before the building is demolished. Father Tim Gareau, the pastor of the church, used to ride his bike there as a child.

"I did.  When I was in 7th and 8th grade, used to lean up against the wall on the back there, and eventually came in further as the Pastor, which has been a blessing," says Gareau.

The building appears to be structurally sound on the outside, but sanctuary only holds 600, not enough even for 700 children that go to school there every day.

"We have six weekend masses, and with the priest shortage, we will eventually need to have four," adds Gareau.

But saying goodbye isn't easy. 

"It's a very vast range of emotion.  It's everything from elation to the anticipation of the new church, to just sorrow over the closing of the doors after so many people have been here their entire lives," says Anne Marie Farr of Westlake.

"We celebrated my 50th wedding anniversary, and my parents, we had a celebration for their 50th wedding anniversary," adds Ron Chudowsky of Bay Village.

Stacey Nye's family have been parishioners so long that the parish's gymnasium is named after her mom and dad.

"It's bitter sweet, but we are okay with it stilling being the parish family that we are," says Nye.

The new church will seat 1100 people.  The first mass in that new holy space should happen next August.

"The people will not change, maybe the building or structure will change, but the people will still be here," adds Chudowsky. 

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