CLEVELAND -- It’s a reopening and a rebirth.
After being closed for more than two years, St. Casimir’s Parish opened its doors once again.
“I feel great. My husband feels great. We’re really happy to be back here,” said parishioner Winifred Kasper.
Kasper has been a member of the church her whole life.
She said in recent years, attendance had been dismal, which lead to its closing. On Sunday, more than 1,000 people filled the church, spilling out into walkways and the foyer.
“I couldn’t wait to come here today,” Kasper said “To see how many people were going to show up. I hope that half of these people that are in the church today will come back next week and the week after and the week after.”
Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Lennon closed the church, one of 50 total, from 2009 to 2010.
Some of those churches appealed that decision. In March, the Vatican ruled in favor of the parishes. Now, 11 churches are expected to re-open in the next two weeks.
“Whether your church is small or whether it’s big. Whether it’s 10 million built or 100,000, they should not be eliminated,” said Joseph Feckanin, a local parishioner.
Since the church closed in 2009, Feckanin has organized weekly vigils outside the locked gates.
“It’s been tough, but there was many people outside the vigils that said you won’t be successful,” he said. “But the people that came to the vigils believed the church would open up again.”
Feckanin said the church’s prayers have been answered. Now, parishioners are anxious to rejoice and rebuild.
“As the mass was ending, the rain came down,” he said, “cause father said the holy water fonts were empty, so he said they would be filled again, but maybe we got our blessing from up above.”
St. Johns in Akron also reopened Sunday. Fox 8 spoke with parishioners: