Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XX — Saint Casimir

 Cleveland Mass Mob XX
Saint Casimir
11.30 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016
8223 Sowinski Avenue

Once you visit a parish, sometimes you go again.  Over this past year it was suggested to mob particular churches, "you should go to St. Michael's", "you should go to St.Colman's".  We did—last year.  With every mobbing, there are people whom do not realise there has been several mobbings in the past.  One lady has told me at two different mobbings that we should re-visit churches, because some people had not been to them. The second time she told me, "go back to Casimir".  So...

 Saint Casimir 125 years 1891-2016+
(image borrowed and altered from St. Casimir Hammond Indiana)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XIX — Saint Augustine

Cleveland Mass Mob XIX
 Saint Augustine
10 a.m. Sunday 22 November 2015
2486 West 14th Street
Saint  Augustine began just before the War for the Preservation of the Union. In 1860 it was a mission church, parish status came after the war in 1867. The original church building, though expanded was still too small. In contrast to recent history, a former Protestant church was converted for Catholic use, the old Pilgrim Congregational Church (then called Jennings Road Congregational) begun in 1865 became Saint  Augustine's in 1896. The negotiations for sale and purchase took some time, for the trustees and membership, and neighboring Protestant churches did not want to sell to Catholics. Originally the church had a steeple, it was destroyed by lightning and a resultant fire in December of 1918.
St. Augustine c.1896-1918
The old South Side (Tremont) suffered during the Great Depression, as did much of the country. After WWII many people moved to larger homes elsewhere, and the construction of highways further de-populated the area.
Christ of the Breadlines (after Fritz Eichenberg), in the basement dining room
In the 1960s a Spanish Language Liturgy was offered. That ministry eventually came to St. Michael's. Since then, St. Augustine's has become the ministry for the deaf community, the blind community, and welcomes all with any problems physical, mental, and spiritual. Its hunger center is noticed by the local television stations each Thanksgiving and Christmas. There has been a generation of new reporters to Cleveland that have come for the annual stories, but people are fed every day. St. Augustine's is known nationally for its good works, and help is always needed. The Nuns on the Bus tour stopped by in June 2012 to speak for "faith, family, and fairness" as elements to consider in the federal budget.
June 26th 2012

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XVIII — Saint James

Cleveland Mass Mob XVIII
Saint James (Lakewood)
10.30 a.m. All Saints
Sunday 1 November 2015
17514 Detroit Avenue

At the turn of the XXth century, population was spreading outward from Cleveland along Detroit Avenue. Bishop Ignatius Horstmann allowed many parishes to be created, at the time of his death (1908) St. James was chartered for the village of Lakewood. The present church was slowly built from 1925 to 1935, with the inside murals finished in 1944.

Fr. Michael Leahy went to Italy in 1924 to look at churches. If you consult art history books (ones for introductory art history), you will find the interior of St. James Lakewood is closely modelled after the cathedral of Monreale Sicily, and touches of Cefalu inside and out, XIIth century Norman-Byzantine (or Sicilian Romanesque) style. St. James also has some arabesques in outside ornamentation. The Great Depression (under Hoover) slowed construction, but Leahy was very shrewd in purchase and payment, and got great value in material and workmanship. Unfortunately that ability has not been retained over the last several years in which leaky roofing has done much damage to the frescoes.

The value of materials that this church is built from is greater than any Catholic church anywhere in the area. The varieties of stone should excite the geologist: more marbles than most would recognise (Levanto, Chiampo Perlato, Carrara, Botticino, Verona, Porta Santa, Rosato, Belgian, Numidian), and there is Algerian onyx, Roman travertine. And on the outside: Minnesota granite steps, Indiana limestone walls, Berea rainbow granite columns with sandstone capitals.

The eight pink columns (of 18) in the nave are of Porta Santa marble.  Porta Santa means holy doors, the ones in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The stone was quarried on the Greek island of Chios. These columns were part of some ancient structure, and now are in Lakewood. There are only four churches that have used this stone: St. Peter's and St. John Lateran in Rome, Saint Mark's in Venice, and St. James in America.

Under the period of parish evisceration, St. James had its last Mass on 27 June 2010. The Homecoming Mass was 25 July 2012. As with all the churches re-opened by Rome, the hiatus did great damage to the parish.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XVII — Nativity of Mary

Cleveland Mass Mob XVII 
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary † Lorain
10.30 am Sunday
27 September 2015
418 West 15th Street 
Lorain Ohio
Road trip
Keep Massing and Mob On!

One metropolitan area is Cleveland-Akron-Lorain [the metropolitan statistical area would include extends to Canton]. And we have all suffered over the years, and we are one. Within that whole, Lorain suffered a high percentage of parish loss (6 of 11):
  • St. Stanislaus (Polish)
  • St. Ladislaus (Hungarian)
  • SS. Cyril & Methodius (Slovene)
  • Holy Trinity (Slovak) 
  • St. Vitus (Croat)
  • St. Joseph (German)
One parish that did survive is Nativity of Mary (Polish). We will celebrate an anniversary of theirs, and in a certain respect, they will represent the other parishes which we can no longer celebrate with.

The parish began in 1898 as St. John Cantius. The next year, the first church was built with a Marian name, and now it is Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1915, the present church was built, and we in part, are celebrating the century of its use.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XVI — Our Lady of Peace

Cleveland Mass Mob XVI 
Our Lady of Peace
11 a.m. Sunday 23 August 2015
12503 Buckingham Avenue

To-day, all around the world there are Luna Park amusement parks. The first was in 1903 on Coney Island (New York City). Frederick Ingersoll, a creator of roller coasters and other rides, began the first chain of such parks. 1905 he opened his first two of forty-four in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Prohibition and the Depression ended the park. In 1940, Woodhill Housing projects went up on the Cleveland site.

Father James Cummins was an infantry chaplain in the last days of, what was then called, the European War. The war experience affected him deeply. After the war, he began a new parish in the Larchmere neighborhood (beyond Woodland and Buckeye), Our Lady of Peace. Before a temporary church could be built, the parish first met at the Luna Park's billiards hall. A wooden church was ready for Easter 1920 on Buckingham. In three years a new solid church was ready, and is now Cummins Hall. The present church was built between 1949 and 1951. The parish that began after the First World War, had a new church after the Second World War.

To-day, Our Lady of Peace is the home of St. Raphael Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission of Cleveland. Once a month, Mass is said in Malayalam (language of Kerala state in India). They are one of the St. Thomas Christians. Once a month, a Mass is said in the Igbo language of southern Nigeria for Roman rite Catholics. This Mass Mob will be mostly in English, with a word or two in Aramaic, and maybe Greek, Latin is a possibility; but the congregation are to say and sing these words.  Pax vobiscum — you all.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XV — Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Cleveland Mass Mob XV 
Saint Ignatius of Antioch
11 a.m. Sunday 26 July 2015
10205 Lorain Avenue

Cleveland was expanding outwards.  Ignatius Horstman was bishop in 1902. The new parish on the west end of Cleveland was to be named after his patron saint,  Ignatius of Antioch. A new parish on the east side was named after his mother's patronal saint, Catharine (now demolished).

The present church was built (1925-30) delayed and finished during the Great Depression. As life has strange episodes, the first Mass in the current church [then incomplete upper church, a lower floor was being used] was the requiem for its pastor, Thomas Hanrahan. He had gone to Rome, a few years earlier, and wanted the new church to look like the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The church has two dozen columns of Italian marble. The outside is of Bedford limestone. Its ground storey stained glass windows have fives scenes stacked on each other, and there is a clerestorey level of smaller windows. Each is of many pieces of deeply colored glass to look like high mediæval glass. The stations of the cross are metalwork.

It is the second tallest church in Cleveland. The campanile (bell tower) rises 210 feet, and dominates the neighborhood. It is lit up at night and is a landmark along Interstate 90. Recently the tile roof, and stone work of the tower have been refinished, repaired, and strengthened.

This is one of two (St. Colman's, the other) parishes that massive public pleading prevailed to have removed from the closure list of 2009. These two closings would have left a chasm about Lorain Avenue. Come and see the church, and meet some of the people.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XIV — Saint Jerome

Cleveland Mass Mob XIV 
Saint Jerome
10 a.m. Sunday 28 June 2015
15000 Lake Shore Boulevard

The mob goes to North Collinwood this time. As the fotos suggest the patron of the parish is St. Jerome. The plaque gives his life dates (*340, 420†), and the founding of the parish (1919) and the consecration of the church (1994).

We see St. Jerome anachronistically dressed as a cardinal, centuries before the office existed. For some years Jerome was a scholarly hermit. He is one of the four chief doctors (teachers) of the early Roman Church. His translation of the Scriptures were the official standard throughout Christendom. The statue on the right, which sits in an alcove that held a confessional, Jerome holds a book opened to his words "Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ". The statue in the center is outside on the campanile (bell tower). It is an older picture, before the tinge of moss was removed. On the left is a window from the choir loft. Jerome's likeness is unknown after so many centuries, so the artist can use his judgment. From description, we know that Jerome had lost an eye, and the depiction with the lion was confused with Androcles.

The present church building began in 1950. It is one of the few post war churches built in a gothic fashion. The stained glass windows were made in Boston in 1951 in mediæval style, the great entrance window has delicate stone tracery, and niche stones are cut for that ancient fashion.  For some reason there is a heraldic Scottish lion, and thistle on the outside walls. Entry door are solid wood with carvings. In addition there is a beautiful side chapel dedicated to St. Joan of Arc. O, yes, Saint Jerome is a beautiful church.

We scheduled this mobbing with Fr. Anthony Cassese late last summer. The long time priest (and pastor) of the parish died the penultimate day of last year.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XIII — Saint Stephen

Cleveland Mass Mob XIII
Saint Stephen
11 a.m. Sunday 24 May 2015
1930 West 54th Street

Pentecost Sunday is the perfect day for the mob to mass, for this is the day the Holy Spirit spread to the peoples of the Earth (first in Jerusalem). It is the birthday of the Church. You are invited, bring friends.

Saint Stephen Cleveland internally is a perfect late nineteenth century South German splendor. Much of the woodwork is carved oak from the old country. The pulpit before it sat inside church was part of the Columbian Expostion of 1893 in Chicago. 

The windows are in the South German painterly style and were created with much fine detail. They were made by the Mayer studio in Munich. They came in 1906. The only older windows that remain are behind the organ. In 1953, a tornado blew out the windows from behind the altar. Forty years later, Mayer windows from the razed St. Joseph Woodland were put in. Other Mayer windows are at St. Adalbert's Cleveland, St. John Cleveland, First Methodist Cleveland...wherever they are, they are brilliant.

The building is made of sandstone quarried in Amherst. It is not a mediæval cathedral, but some of the same architectural features are evident. It is one of the few buildings around with functional gargoyles (monster shaped water spouts).

One can visually examine the details for hours, and with knowledge, see what a harmonious, cohesive, congruent, complete, and co-ordinated whole the interior is. A lot of this planning was done by the first pastor, Kasimir Reichlin. See this beautiful church, which has served a community for generations. Parishioners mortgaged their homes to help build their parish church, their spiritual home. This was not uncommon; so the question who does the church belong to?; is answered: to the People of God. This is the second church of the parish built between 1873 and 1881. The parish began in 1869, and quickly needed a bigger church.

Recently, this church and parish was suggested to be extinguished, then merged, then put on 'probation', and is now free from that threat. There were several parishioners willing and prepared to appeal to Rome. That is one trial St. Stephen did not have to undergo.
Trial of St. Stephen-Protomartyr before the Sanhedrin. Franz Mayer window 1906 Munich. St. Stephen Cleveland.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cleveland Mass Mob XII — Immaculate Conception

Cleveland Mass Mob XII 
Immaculate Conception
10 a.m. Sunday 26 April 2015
4129 Superior Avenue
Come celebrate with the parish of Immaculate Conception for their 150th birthday. The parish is one of the oldest in the city. It began as a mission in the back of St. John's, the then very new cathedral. The chapel was moved whole east into an Irish neighborhood in 1856. Immediately after the War for the Preservation of the Union ended, the mission church became a parish (1 May 1865) with a French priest. The first bishop of Cleveland was a Frenchman, and to Cleveland came French sisters and priests to several churches. The neo-gothic church of to-day, had its cornerstone laid on the Feast of the Assumption 1873. Construction of the final stones waited for the new century.

Superior Avenue had several Catholic churches, as none were permitted in the nineteenth century on parallel Euclid Avenue. Since then: St. Columbkille is now in Parma. St. John the Evangelist had been enlarged and remodeled, more than once. St. Thomas Aquinas is gone, the school remains. St. Francis burned and the church moved to the school building and the parish has been just recently been eliminated, as has the nearby St. George whose property has been sold and is returning to nature. St. Andrew Svorad (the original home of the Benedictine Abbey and high school) has also been made to go extinct, and had been abruptly demolished with the bell still in the church, days before an announced list of parish closures. St. Peter, which was closed for a time, has been reopened by Rome.  St. Nicholas Byzantine continues on. Immaculate Conception (or the Mac) has retained its form and beauty. The stained glass, the stations, the organ are beautiful. The church is a sensual treat of sacred space.

Post World War II urban change, including highways, has reduced the population in the city and its neighborhoods. The urban Catholic villages are barely remnants. The church is not as filled as it has been, and most Masses are said in English; but Immaculate Conception was the first church in Cleveland to have the return of the Latin Mass in 1989.
Mass Mob Principle:
A church is not common real estate. A church is sacred space, wherein the People of God gather to celebrate the Eucharist and other Sacraments as a community.

Mass Mob Foundational Statement:
We wish to attract people to come for a Mass, a celebration of Liturgy and Eucharist, in a parish community of an historical, and beautiful church.

The 'mob' is the People of God.

Keep massing and mob on!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring into the Mass Mob

Cleveland Mass Mob  XI
Saint Mary of the Assumption (Collinwood)
10 a.m. Sunday 22 March 2015
15519 Holmes

After a winter's hibernation the migratory parish of pilgrims is back. The first Cleveland Mass Mob of the new year will be south of Interstate 90 and the railroad tracks, in the northeastern part of Cleveland, Collinwood, which was annexed in 1910. The parish to be visited is Saint Mary (founded in 1905). It is one of two remaining Slovene nationality parishes in the larger metropolitan area. Cleveland is the chief locale of the Slovene diaspora. The 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday March 22nd will have elements of the old country's traditions in choir and costume.

This will be Cleveland Mass Mob XI. In this the second year of mobbing, the gatherings will center on the fourth weekend of the month. Some twenty cities have declared this type of ecclesial mobbing activity. The success and frequency has varied. This national phenomena began in Buffalo, and only Buffalo's mob is older. More recent mobs, and newspapers, have acknowledged Cleveland as a model. Cleveland has had the most mobbings, and its practice is to announce the next mobbing in the church of the present mobbing.

Mass Mob is a celebration of community, and sacred space, with the presence of Jesus. We wish to attract people to come for a Mass, a celebration of Liturgy and Eucharist, in a parish community of an historical, and beautiful church. Keep Massing and Mob On!

Monday, February 23, 2015

a brief history and meddlesome kids

There have been several variations on the theme. Some of the Mass Mobs are organic and are led by fully grown 'meddlesome kids', such as the first Mass Mob and us.  A number are more clerical in character. Detroit has full archdiocesan approval, help, and participation, and the Knights of Columbus (who also organise South Bend's). Some are an addition to youth ministry. Other cities have a seminarian, deacon, priest, or other diocesan employee as organiser.

The model was developed in Buffalo using 'social media' to stage a mass gathering at a Mass. But really, the success was getting broadcast media to report that 'social media' was the engine. This proved itself in Cleveland's first mobbing. Buffalo's mob committee had friends in the press after years of municipal activism. Some have used very little promotion, and have had modest results follow. Facebook is the most popular vehicle of announcement, yet in some cases it is hard to find them there.

This movement spread in two mini waves. The first after the story became national through an Associated Press article describing Buffalo's second mob. The other wave was after a New York Times article describing a few of the mobs, with a dateline of Cleveland. "Mass mobs seek to draw large crowds to a single church in a demonstration of support for Catholicism and its most beautiful — and often needy — churches." Certainly this describes the majority of the mobbings, but some have different rationales and visitations. Three locals chose their cathedral church, the seat of the bishop, the one church which in their local is immune from certain parochial problems; one local being where the bishop has been convicted of criminal behaviour. That sends a message too.

Enthusiasm, organisation, and style vary from local to local. Some did little to nothing in going forward, some are more recently declared have only a static facebook page. A few called a 'mob' for their parish, and that was the totality, and were never meant to be a local mob.

Rochester's two founders attended Buffalo's Mass Mob II and have been the only local to go beyond a Catholic tour. They very early explored the idea whether this event of  ecclesial enthusiasm could be exported ecumenically*. Their first mobbing was at an Unitarian-Universalist church. They received some local media interest, and held a second mobbing at a Catholic church. Interesting, but disappointed in attendance and the degree of effort exerted; they retired. The one fellow attended Cleveland's second mobbing. He saw at least four mobs in three cities. I have no second example of this.

Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit have beautiful ethnic parishes and churches to mob. Detroit has huge churches. Some of the other cities have mobbed non-architectural splendors, and have made no mention of national character of congregations. In those mentioned and some other locals, Polish parishes were mobbed. Here in Cleveland, we mobbed ten churches and four were Polish parishes, and the attendance ranked 1,2,4, and 5.

Both Buffalo and Cleveland had recently suffered from parish closings, Buffalo belatedly received diocesan acceptance of the mob. Now, New York City proper is in two dioceses. Currently, the archdiocese of New York (has 3 of 5 boroughs) is reducing parishes. New York City has had a popular vote for the four mobbings they have had. The last one was at a parish that is gallantly fighting to survive forced closure. So a focus of some of the mobs is not just to attract attention, not novel evangelisation, but to celebrate the continuance of a church and parish against arbitrary misfortune.

Cleveland has not had a mob since All Souls Day, and still leads in number. Throughout the upcoming year Cleveland and Detroit will continue at the top, with Buffalo, and Pittsburgh right behind. Detroit's mob came together from separate nuclei, and since has had outstanding success. Now a member of their mob has started a second mob. Fort Wayne and South Bend share the same bishop.

Cleveland is the only mass mob to mob on a weekday. The Feast of the Assumption was on Friday, and we had a great turn out at St. Mary Bedford. Cleveland has had the only mobbing of an Eastern-rite church, Holy Ghost; and this is the the church that the New York Times correspondent came to, and wrote about. Earlier the paper had sent a writer and photographer to St. Michael's.

Cleveland had five churches mobbed that were once closed. Only Detroit went to another formerly closed church, St. Albertus, and it is outside diocesan management. That and other Detroit mobbings had Masses said by bishops.

Other odd notes: Covington announced a mob and didn't have one in the first year, and came back as Greater Cincinnati. Saint Louis has six mobbings scheduled, two in 2016, and has not have one completed. Their first mass will have their bishop presiding. Most locals do not announce, or even know where they will mob beyond the next one. Detroit after they merged had the year planned out, and their two mobs now both have this year planned and public. Pittsburgh had future ones announced, and had nearer in time announced later. Philadelphia deferred to their archdiocese to such a degree that an impression was given that mass mobs were an episcopal creation. Philly had two mobbings and stopped without a note. Greater New Orleans was the first to go to a suburban church, and had one more mobbing, and also stopped noting. Wilmington was dormant, and recently held their first mobbing with very little notice. One mob, Rural Davenport, is planning for rural churches. Memphis has a vote, and announces some four days before the mobbing.
*The ideas of community in a sacred space and local pilgrimage makes sense within Catholicism, i can not see other groups in the United States being interested participants.