People in the pews at St. Bernard-St. Mary this weekend are learning their pastor, the Rev. Dan Reed, has been assigned to lead both St. Bernard’s and St. Mary’s parishes.
Reed, who is in Ecuador, announced his appointment in the weekly church bulletin. His pastorate at the two parishes will begin July 16.
“I realize this long-awaited news will come as a disappointment to some, and a relief to others,” Reed wrote. “My hope is to be able to pastor those who never came to the new [now ending] St. Bernard-St. Mary Parish. There is still great potential to work together to provide for the pastoral and sacramental care of the Catholics in the downtown and southtown areas of Akron, evangelize and welcome others, and serve those in these distinct neighborhoods.”
St. Bernard-St. Mary was opened July 4, 2010, after St. Bernard in downtown Akron merged with St. Mary’s on South Main Street. The St. Bernard site became the sanctuary. The St. Mary’s site housed the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school and the church was limited to weekly school Mass.
The merger, which deemed both St. Bernard’s and St. Mary’s as closed parishes, was part of a plan to reduce the number of parishes in the eight-county Cleveland diocese to better use resources.
At least one parishioner from St. Mary’s — and those from 10 other parishes in the diocese — won an appeal to the Vatican that challenged Cleveland Bishop Richard G. Lennon’s mandate to close the parishes. In March, a Vatican tribunal upheld the appeal. Instead of fighting the ruling, Lennon decided to reopen the 11 parishes.
More to be announced
Last week, Lennon named pastors to lead five of the parishes.
Reed’s appointment is expected to be among the final six to be announced this week.
Because Reed will be out of town this week, he received special permission from Lennon to notify parishioners in writing via the church bulletin.
“I didn’t want the people of the parish to hear it from someone else, because I assured them that I would let them know when I had more information,” Reed said by telephone last week. “I want the people to know that I am excited about the possibilities and that I want to make this transition as easy and as stress-free as possible.”
Reed said he believes his appointment “makes sense” because the parishioners of St. Mary’s who came to St. Bernard-St. Mary already know him and know what to expect from him.
“My presence is for the good of the people,” Reed said. “I liked to stay busy, and I’m sure that serving two distinct parishes will keep me busy enough.”
Reed said that when he returns at the end of the week, he will begin putting together a Mass schedule. He said he hopes to schedule the reopening Mass at St. Mary’s in August before school starts. That means Aug. 5, 12 or 19.
He said that although the school will return to St. Mary’s parish (and be renamed St. Mary’s School), he hopes St. Bernard’s parishioners will continue to support the school, which serves as an outreach to inner-city students.
The furnishings the diocese removed from St. Mary’s Church two years ago have been returned. Items taken to St. Bernard’s still must be returned.
A crew from the diocesan Facilities Management Office will prepare the church for the reopening, Reed said.
In his letter, Reed informed parishioners of a workshop to help people make decisions about parish membership.
The workshop is being offered at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma. He also noted that a similar workshop might be offered at St. Mary’s this month.
“I want to do whatever I can to help people with this transition,” Reed said. “I’m looking forward to the future and seeing how things play out.”
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.