Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wellsville Catholics Keep Up Hopes to Reopen Immaculate Conception
Members of the Committee to Save Immaculate Conception and other parishioners remain optimistic with their chances to get the Wellsville church reopened. In spite of efforts by the Youngstown Diocese otherwise the Wellsville Catholics continue to keep the faith and are devoting huge amounts of time, money and effort toward saving their house of worship. They have held fund raisers and raffles for the legal fees to do just that. More is in the planning stages.
As many of you know the Diocese officials decided that the Wellsville parish was no longer needed and locked the doors of the 84 year old church in the face of the very people that supported the parish. It was the church building that many of their ancestors sacrificed so much to build and maintain over the years. It is the same church that descendents of those before them always upgraded and kept in good repair. It is a proud symbol of the Catholic beliefs held so strongly in their hearts. It was the home of a parish that was solvent until the Diocese had a change in officials. Those new officials used some questionable accounting rules and announced that the Wellsville parish was operating in the red. Knowledgeable individuals familiar with the finances of the Wellsville parish questioned what happened with the money and asked that a forensic audit be conducted on the Immaculate Conception books. They were refused by the Bishop.
The Wellsville Catholics were told that there are not enough priests to serve all the parishes. That was not argued. All they asked is that they have one Mass offered either on Saturday or Sunday each week and have the church available for weddings, baptisms and funerals. They were told that the priest couldn't travel from three to five miles away to attend their needs. Yet we're told there is one priest in the northern part of Columbiana County that does just that for four different communities on a regular basis.
We were told that some members of the Immaculate Conception parish contacted officials in another nearby diocese and were told that Friars were available to serve the needs of the Wellsville Catholics on an interim basis. When those officials from that nearby diocese offered their help they were told by Youngstown Diocese officials to mind their own business.
Recently a lay person that has faithfully taught Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes for young Catholics for the past 28 years were told his services were no longer needed. CCD offers religious education to children that attend public schools. The Director of Religious Education that told us that said it “was something discussed and agreed upon” when we called him to verify. He denied it was a spiteful move even though the long time teacher was told it was because of his actions with the Wellsville Committee.
The actions to merge three parishes into one is wrought with deception, arrogance and old world mentality. It is why the Wellsville Catholics worked so hard to raise money and retain Canon Law lawyers in Rome to appeal the closing. That appeal is in the process and it may be some time to resolve. In the mean time a request has been made to keep heat in the church to prevent damage to the organ and the building itself. The utilities have been disconnected and the Committee has asked permission to pay the bills themselves to maintain the integrity of the building and its contents.
The Committee meets every Thursday evening at Wellsville's SOI Lodge located at 327 Main St. The hall opens at 5:30 PM for the Social Hour. The SOI kitchen will be open. The meeting starts promptly at 6:30 PM. A prayer service is held each Saturday afternoon at 4:30 PM in front of the Blessed Mother statue at the church. Pictured above are scenes from a recent parish cover dish dinner for the Wellsville Catholics and friends.
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