Formalizes pastoral planning for Corpus Christi Parish
February 5, 2023
CONTACT: Justin Huyck, Director of Communications, (330) 744-8451, ext. 320, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announces the formal closure of Saint Mary Church in Conneaut, Ohio, which is one of two church buildings for Corpus Christi Parish. The decision formalizes previous parish planning which has emphasized excellent stewardship and flourishing parish programs, and is consistent with the parish’s current Mass schedule: Saint Frances Cabrini Church has served as Corpus Christi Parish’s primary worship site since 2020. On January 6, the Most Rev. David. J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, received a petition that Saint Mary Church be formally closed. Rev. Raymond Thomas and Mr. Nicholas Perkoski, the parish’s pastor and diocesan pastoral associate, submitted the petition, in concert with the parish’s pastoral and finance councils. In accordance with Church law, the petition was considered by the diocesan presbyteral council on January 10, and Bishop Bonnar then approved the presbyteral council’s recommendation and issued a formal decree. The decision was announced on February 5 at the parish’s Mass, in a letter from Bishop Bonnar to Corpus Christi parishioners.
The decision to close Saint Mary Church comes after a discernment process by the parish’s pastoral and finance councils over several years, which prioritized parish ministries and programs. Father Thomas, Mr. Perkoski and council members noted that deferred maintenance costs for Saint Mary Church were not financially feasible and that the cost of supporting two church buildings would have a negative impact on the ability to continue to grow parish ministries. They also noted that while parish financial giving has stabilized since the pandemic, increased financial costs should be limited to one church building. Additionally, Mass attendance has not returned to pre-pandemic numbers and there has been a decline in the general population as well as in parish membership. As part of the regionalization plan for Catholic parishes in Ashtabula County, Corpus Christi Parish currently has one parish Mass (celebrated at Saint Frances Cabrini Church), in alignment with similar changes throughout the county to most effectively make use of the limited number of priests, respond to Mass attendance numbers and schedule liturgies.
Bishop Bonnar will celebrate a closing Mass at Saint Mary Church on April 16 at
11 a.m., which will be the parish’s Mass for the weekend. Following this Mass, Bishop Bonnar will lead a Eucharistic Holy Hour at St. Frances Cabrini Church at 1 p.m., which was already scheduled as part of the diocesan Eucharistic Revival.
In his letter to parishioners, Bishop Bonnar wrote that, “It is always sad when a church building closes because it holds so many memories. One of my responsibilities as bishop is to ensure that our history is preserved and artifacts are treated with reverence and respect. Accordingly, I have directed our diocesan office of patrimony to catalog and preserve sacred objects from Saint Mary Church and work with Father Thomas and your pastoral leadership to determine an appropriate use.” The Diocese of Youngstown’s Archives is led by Joan Lawson, Chancellor and Diocesan Archivist, and its Office of Patrimony is directed by Father David Misbrener. Bishop Bonnar added, “While our church buildings are precious to us, the First Letter of Saint Peter reminds us that we are all ‘living stones.’”
Saint Mary Parish and Saint Frances Cabrini Parish were merged in 2008 into one parish, and renamed Corpus Christi Parish in 2013.