Members of Wellsville’s Immaculate Conception Parish were brought up to date this past Thursday on the status of their appeal to Rome. The appeal is to get the Wellsville church reopened. It’s been in the works for over a year now.
The Committee to Save Immaculate Conception Parish engaged church advocate Peter Borre over a year ago as a go-between for them and the powers that be at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. An appeal has been filed with the Catholic Congregation of Clergy. They have the power to reverse any decision made by local authorities to close the parish church.
Last year Youngstown Diocese Bishop George Murray made just that decision for the Wellsville Catholic Church. Prior to formally closing the parish, a priest was sharing his time administering East Liverpool’s Catholic Church and the one in Wellsville. Only one Mass a week was being offered at the Wellsville church. One of the Bishop’s reasons for closing the parish church was a shortage of priests in the diocese. The parish priest that covered the two churches had already consolidated all the office staff into one office in East Liverpool.
Members of the Wellsville parish went out on their own and found clergy members who volunteered to continue providing that one Mass per week. However, Bishop Murray wouldn’t reverse his decision. Some of the Wellsville parishioners felt that the Bishop’s decision was based mostly on the fact that the Immaculate Conception coffers had been drained prior to the closing. A request to have an audit on the Immaculate Conception books apparently fell on deaf ears.
Since the Wellsville committee has financed and gone ahead with an appeal to the Vatican’s Congregation of the Clergy the Wellsville church property cannot be put on the market. Now the Diocese will be forced to pay real estate taxes on the six parcels of land owned by the Wellsville parish beginning next year. Two years ago those six parcels had an appraised value of $389,400. The yearly real estate tax bill would be $6,981 according to County officials.
In other news it was reported that the Wellsville members donated enough to have the hedges around the church trimmed. The Diocese officials were ignoring them and letting them grow unkempt. Repeated attempts to contact the Holy Trinity pastor went unanswered. To avoid being cited for zoning violations the committee raised enough funds to rent equipment and hire a crew to clean the place up.
Advocate Peter Borre will be speaking at the City Club in Cleveland on Friday, June 15. Borre also represents parishes in the Cleveland Diocese. The topic of the speech is entitled “Cleveland & Boston – A Tale of Two Dioceses”. With Borre’s help 12 parishes in the Cleveland area won their appeals to reopen. Parishes in the Boston Diocese weren’t as fortunate. Borre is scheduled to meet with a Wellsville delegation prior to the luncheon. Borre will be returning to Rome prior to the summer break at the Vatican. It is hoped to have a decision before the break begins on June 29.
In the meantime Saturday afternoon prayer services are continuing each Saturday at 3:30 PM. With the heat having proved too intense the services are once again being held at the First United Methodist Church at 5th & Main in Wellsville. The public is invited to join in. The next meeting is Thursday, June 21 at 6 PM at Wellsville’s SOI Lodge. The meetings are also open to the public.