This evening I went to Mass at Saints Peter and Paul on Garfield Boulevard. The major equipment which was making travel on Turney Road difficult since last February, has been removed, including all but one of the metal plates which cover open sections and are hard on the tires. The road is just as bumpy and irregular as can be. While they fixed whatever they were doing with the pipes down the middle, they did not re-surface the street at all. Now it just has an additional two foot path of unmatched cement down the entire center. This is aggravating, considering it is a main road and our taxes are exorbitant.
I put on a dress that I used to wear when I worked downtown, which I have not worn since that job went away. Sitting near the back of the church, as usual, I thought about the recent anniversary of this lovely neo-Gothic building which turned 88 on August 15th. When I first moved to Garfield Heights fourteen plus years ago, I attended a Mass at all the nearby churches to try to figure out where I belonged. I felt most at home in this old Polish parish and signed up as a member of the congregation. At that time there was a priest from Poland and it was he who came to my home to bless it, a tradition of mine which I think is very important when relocating. That priest returned to Poland a year or so later and so that ended the Polish Mass every Sunday at 9:00 a.m., though the Polish Mass books remain in the pews along with the American language books.
The man who does the bookkeeping for the church lives next door to my friend, Marilyn, who lives at the other end of the street I am on. About six months ago he told her that the church can stay afloat for about three more years. It didn’t help that about five years a former deacon was arrested for embezzling $300,000 from this hardly thriving parish. Most of the people who attend services here are elderly, though every now and then a baby cries and I wonder if there is hope for the future of the church. It is sad when I think of this parish closing down and the few remaining members disbursing to one of the other three parishes in our “cluster” of four nearby churches which have been banded together for the last few years, condensing the schools from four to two and sharing services and other activities. I think about where I will go next and consider St. Martin of Tours, within walking distance and out of the main stream of Rockside Road traffic. I didn’t choose this church in the round in the first place because nothing about it reminded me that I was in a Catholic church, except for the tiny crucifix on a tall pole that was carried into the church by one of the altar servers before Mass. Of course the priest is in traditional vestments, and the Mass is the Mass anywhere, but still, the ambiance I am at home in was not there. Over the years they have obtained a large crucifix, I am assuming it was donated by one of the now closed churches, which helps enormously. Still, it is not quite the same.