March 17 2009
When i entered Saint Colman's church on Saint Patrick's Day 2009, a television cameraman behind me, said in surprise, “this place looks better than the cathedral [John the Evangelist Cleveland]”. And it does. It is the custom in Cleveland, that, on the morning of every March 17th there are well attended Masses at several Irish parishes in Cleveland. On that day, there were twenty priests there to distribute Communion. Colman's pews, now, sit only a thousand. The choir loft [balcony] has no seats, it was densely standing room; and it was standing room in the nave, the narthex, the steps, and the sidewalk. Now, some of the people outside were not interested in Mass. People come to these Patricio Masses, and many go downtown for the parade, which in recent years has an audience of 200 thousands, or double that in good weather. At Colman's, there is a party in the crypt level serving food after the parade.
These numbers and activities are not out of the ordinary. You must realise, people here really want to celebrate something. For years, when Municipal Stadium was standing, opening day of baseball sold out, and then much of the rest of the season had six thousand in attendance. Every football game was sold out. Ah, that old, ugly, and stinky stadium, which looked like London's old Wembley, attracted eighty thousand (80,000) people to it. Well this particular day was something out of the ordinary.
On March 14th the news came as a shock to all, Saint Colman was to be among over fifty parishes to be closed on order of the bishop. Before Mass began on the 17th there was an all out push to save Colman's. Petitions were distributed, signed, and collected. Political representatives were called in, and so on. The pastor of St. Colman's gave a fiery defense of his parish before Mass. It turned to be a colossally stupid bit of timing for the reaper's list to have been announced on the eve of the Ides of March, hours before St. Patrick's Day. A very hard, AND PUBLIC campaign was mounted by Saint Colman's, and Saint Ignatius of Antioch's parishes, which successfully changed the bishop's decisions. Three years later all the parishes' appeals the bishop refused, and who then later appealed to Rome, proved successful. In those eleven decrees, Rome, in the end, sided with the parishes.
Colman's and Ignatius' were spared the break of continuity the eleven parishes that were in hiatus suffered through. Their appeals, if presented to Rome, would have also have been adjudicated successfully. They were spared the waiting period because of their quick, aggressive, co-ordinated, and public appeals.
The parish is a community of believers in God. One important question is what is the basic Christian unit? the parish [which was chartered by Jesus]*?, or the diocese? The diocese was a Roman governmental administrative unit of subprovinces.
*“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”— Matthew xviii. 20.