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.
LAKEWOOD, Ohio - St. James Church in Lakewood held its first mass Wednesday night since being closed by Bishop Richard Lennon more than two years ago.
An overflow crowd packed the church for the 7 p.m. mass which was scheduled to coincide with the feast of St. James. Some stood at the door and along the front steps.
"I thought once they closed that would be it," parishioner Kim Drennan said. "But it's a miracle. The Lord rules."
Many said they have a long history with the church. Drennan was married there. There were also family funerals and baptisms.
Ashley Neuman is looking forward to having her baby, due in August, baptized in the church where she was baptized. "It's just a really beautiful thing," she said. "This has been a part of my life since I've been born so it's really nice to welcome it back and see everybody that came out to support it."
A sign in a window across the street from the Detroit Road church welcomed the church back.
"Hopefully the church will grow and thrive," former parishioner Dave Schurch said.
St. James is the sixth church to reopen after the Vatican overruled Bishop Lennon's decision.
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.