CLEVELAND - Sunday, July 15, 2012 is a Sunday many Northeast Ohio church-goers haven't seen in more than two years. Today marks the re-opening of two area churches, two years after they were closed by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.
The doors opened at Akron's St. John The Baptist early Sunday morning, for the scheduled 10 a.m. mass. Parishioners say they are happy their church is open again, but are concerned low attendance will lead to the church closing again in the future.
Parishioners also arrived early Sunday morning at Cleveland's St. Casimir Catholic Church on the City's eastside. Ten days ago, NewsChannel 5 was allowed inside St. Casimir as workers prepped the building for the big day.
"You want the first impression to be a very good and lasting impression. The people love their church and they know if something is so," said Father Eric Orzech on July 5th. "The whole goal is to make that a non-issue, so they're not worried about what happened to this or that. They are going to come in here rejoiced, so what they are supposed to do in church pretty well."
St. Casimir and St. John The Baptist were among 50 churches in the Cleveland Diocese that was closed or merged because of a shortage of priests, parishoners and money.
The Vatican ordered 11 of those churches to be re-opened after parishioners sued.