CLEVELAND -- The Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland returns to a church when not so long ago some parishioners walked out on him. While Bishop Richard Lennon was there for official church business, it was more like a healing mass.
The faithful filled St. Casimir Catholic Church Sunday, as they have since it re-opened in mid-July. The historic Polish-American parish on Cleveland’s Eastside became the first of the closed churches to be restored.
Bishop Lennon was there to formally install Father Eric Orzech as Pastor of St. Casimir. This was the first time Bishop Lennon has returned to Saint Casimir since he presided over the final mall before closing the church in November 2009. Jane Haynes was among some parishioners who walked out in protest.
“Oh the closing day was very sad. We walked out. Quite a few of us walked out," she recalled, "But today is a much happier day.”
When asked if the Bishop is welcomed, Haynes said, "Yes he is, for the sake of our church.”
Parishioner Julia Niedzwiecki, 101, said the Bishop should come to St. Casimir.
“The parish is still here and people still come to church here. So, I think he should feel good about coming here.”
The Bishop remembered what happened at the final mass three years ago, but said he had no reservations about returning to St. Casimir.
“I have already done ten of these and they have all been very warm and receptive," Bishop Lennon said.
Fr. Orzech has a unique role, serving as pastor of two parishes, St. Stanislaus and St. Casimir. Many feel the Bishop's presence shows his confidence that Fr. Orzech can lead this congregation.
"Right now, as in any other parish in the Diocese, the Bishop wants nothing better than it to be strong and flourish," Fr. Orzech said.