CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – It was a standing-room-only crowd Wednesday night at a public forum to discuss the closure of St. Lucy/Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish in Campbell.
Hundreds of parishioners came to the forum to see how they can keep their church, which was built in 1937, open. Late last month, the pastor at Christ the Good Shepherd Parish sent out a letter stating daily masses would be held at St. John the Baptist Church and weekend masses and major feast day masses would be held at St. Joseph the Provider Church.
Youngstown Diocese Bishop George Murry agreed with Fr. Shawn Conoboy’s decision, but not everyone is on board with closing St. Lucy’s.
“The decision that was made was not the decision of the people of the three churches. It was the decision of the pastor only,” Tony Matash of the Hearts and Voices Save Our Church committee said.
Christ the Good Shepherd Parish is the combined name of the three merged churches: St. John, St. Lucy/Sta. Rosa de Lima and St. Joseph the Provider. Campbell used to have five Catholic churches, but the Youngstown Diocese closed St. Elizabeth Parish and merged St. Lucy’s with St. Rose under the diocesan reconfiguration plan.
“This is our life. Our church is our life. I mean, if you are not at home, you are at church. My children would always say ‘if I can’t find my mom, I know she is at church’,” committee member Carmel Gerlick said.
This week, Save Our Church committee must decide if they want to accept what has been put forth by the pastor and the bishop or if they want to take their appeal to the Vatican.
Peter Borre spoke to the crowd for over an hour, saying their next step is to appeal to a congregation at the Vatican. He recently did so when battling Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon about churches there.
“The congregation overruled Dick Lennon in 11 of those cases and he was forced to reopen the parishes and the churches,” Borre said.
It is a process that can take many years in Rome, but the committee seems ready for the fight.
“I think we are probably going to go forward. I don’t know. That is my wish, anyhow,” Gerlick said.
Conoboy said in the letter that he chose St. Joseph the Provider as the primary worship site since it has the facilities best suited to serve the congregation.