|For the Record: The truth about the demolition of St. Catherine's Church|
The real story: St. Catherine’s church, located off Woodhill Road on Cleveland’s southeast side was closed four years ago (prior to the Diocesan Reconfiguration program) in a decision by parishioners from three parishes which had come together in order to sustain their Catholic life. St. Henry, St. Catherine, and
Under Church law the disposition of goods, materials, and properties was the responsibility of the new parish. After all sacred and religious items, along with sentimental ones, were removed from St. Catherine’s; the property was finally sold to Imagine Schools, a charter school operator. “Imagine” determined that the 96 year old building was in such disrepair, it needed to be razed. A new school building would be constructed on the site.
Among the issues reported was the discovery of a pair of World War II memorial plaques which has been left in a closed-off portion of the building. Also, the pipe organ was included as part of the demolition.
It was explained to reporter O’Malley that the plaques remained in the building as an oversight since no one had been inside the bell tower for some time because that portion of the structure was condemned. As soon as the presence of the plaques was reported to the Diocese, Catholic Cemeteries Association was contacted and arrangements were made to repair, preserve, and display the plaques at
The Plain Dealer story claimed two individuals intervened to save the plaques. They did so, but under false pretense and secured one of them.
The story also said: “a picture was snapped of a crane’s giant steel jaws smashing the 96 year old building, including a shot of the jaws ripping apart the church’s pipe organ.” The organ was part of the demolition and was included only after Holtkamp Organ Company representatives carefully inspected the instrument and determined that it could not be salvaged. Had the reporter bothered to check this out, maybe his story would not have used such incendiary language, embarrassed the demolition company, Holy Spirit parish, the Diocese, and the Catholic Church. Any items of value had long been removed from the location.
So the plaques and organ portions of the story were inaccurate and even more importantly, the reporter, ignored the truth.
The Diocese will soon be releasing an accounting of all of our closed properties. At that time, it is our hope you will better understand the careful process involved in the disposition of these sacred goods and properties.