The pastor of a Cleveland congregation holding worship services inside a former warehouse is speaking out following a decree of excommunication by Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon.
CLEVELAND - St. Casimir parishioners celebrated their first Christmas inside parish since the Cleveland Catholic Diocese shut down 13 local dioceses.
Little Danny Fleszar was only 3 years old when the Cleveland Catholic Diocese closed St. Casimir Parish.
"He kept asking his father as we stood outside the closed church in the cold he says dad why can't we go in why can't we go in," said longtime parishioner John Niedzialek.
"He asked me those many questions when there was no answer for it, cause as a Catholic I cannot tell him bad things," said Danny's father and prayer leader, Wojciech Fleszar.
Little Danny didn't understand why parishioners had to stand out in the cold to pray. Now he's almost 7 years old and he's playing a major role in this Christmas service.
"Today Danny's going to be altar boy here and he's going to be inside the church so it was a tough situation but we didn't give up the hope, we kept writing we kept working with the other 10 churches that filed appeals in Cleveland," said Niedzialek.
Last March, the Vatican overruled the Cleveland Diocese and ordered the closed churches to be re-opened. It took months, but they're open now and for that the church is thankful.
"It's amazing. I can't find the words to tell you how I'm feeling and how other people feel like to be here," said his father.
Tuesday, parishioners were back inside where their mothers and fathers worshiped many Christmases ago.
"This is the celebration of the birth of Christ and the rebirth of all our churches and it's just a wonderful feeling to be able to walk in this church again from four years ago when it was closed and to be able to worship here again where my family mother was a member of this church I'm a third generation person at this church," said Niedzialek.
Pope Benedict XVI will be held high regard by members of Cleveland churches ordered reopened by the Vatican under his watch, a lay leader of a spared congregation said Monday.
St. Casimir parishioners celebrated their first Christmas inside parish since the Cleveland Catholic Diocese shut down 13 local dioceses.
Mass will again be held at St. Emeric Catholic Church beginning Nov. 4, and the pastor of the parish has just been announced.
The last of 11 churches closed by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese and later spared by the Vatican is planning its reopening.