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Defaming a Sacred Place

Story ID:9817
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Lakewood Ohio usa
Year:2014
Person:Suzana
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I was wondering this morning how people would feel if their closed church, temple,
or mosque would now be used as an eatery and brewery. Sadly, the City of Lakewood
has determined that my closed church – St. Gregory’s Byzantine Catholic Church can
now be used by developers for just that purpose.

When I first heard this notion, I wasted no time in writing my councilperson in
Lakewood as well as writing a letter to the Sun Post – our suburban newspaper re
my feelings on the subject. Here is what I wrote:

To the Editor:

I am appalled that a place which so many of us have used for sacred purposes is
being considered for an eatery and brewery. Those officials who think it is a great
idea should consider if it were the church where their parents were married and
buried from- if this would be all right. They should also consider that this was the
place where they and their siblings were baptized, confirmed, received their first
Holy Communion and some were married in this sacred place. Would converting
it into an eatery and brewery be all right?

Not for this former parishioner. I believe it should be designated as an historical
building in a historical place – Bird Town. I am disappointed in the Parma Eparchy
for letting us down and they didn’t even consider using the church as a mission church-
having liturgy at least once a month for those of us who were still attending and
supporting the church as best we could.

For so many years the faithful kept up the parish- working weekly at Bingo. When
the Bishop and priests needed us, we were there. Now when we needed them, they
abandoned us. Will the City do the same?

(No response from Councilperson Madigan who represents our district).


A LITTLE HISTORY OF BIRDTOWN

This small 7-street tract took shape in the early 20th century when people from
eastern Europe – principally Slovaks emigrated to Ohio from which was then
part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some settled on the outskirts of Cleveland
in the suburb of Lakewood. Many of them would find employment in the then
National Carbon Company which bought this tract of land so that their employees
could build their homes close by.

It was called “Birdtown” because most of the streets were named after birds: Robin,
Lark, Plover, Thrush, and Quail. (The other street names were Halsted and Magee).
I was born on Robin and our Byzantine Catholic Church was built on Quail, and as
customary with Byzantine churches, the altar would face the East.

Such a tiny little tract- but I was so pleased that it was designated as a historical
place during the tenure of Mayor Madeline Cain who was mayor from 1996 to 2003.
I wish that she were still mayor today. I feel sure she would in no way support the
plans to convert St. Gregory’s into an eatery and brewery. In my opinion, this doesn’t
bode well for the historical designation of Birdtown either.

This business venture reminds me of when Jesus chased out the money changers and
animal trafficers in the temple. Would He approve of making this sacred place where
he was reserved sacramentally in the tabernacle on the altar for over 100 years? St.
Gregory’s opened its doors on July 30, 1906.


WHAT CAN WE DO?

Even though there were over 200 signatures opposing this plan, the Mayor and
Council ignored the wishes of the people of Birdtown and people like me and gave
its approval to the plan.

Someone said we should demonstrate. I wish I had that gift in me. Barring that,
I wish that someone else may look for support and rally us around this concept.
While I do not know how to organize a demonstration, I certainly would want to
participate in one.

In the meantime, I have two letters to write – one to the Byzantine Metropolitan
in Pittsburgh and one to the Holy Father. Right – a lot of good that will do. Well,
surprisingly, one enterprising lady in the Cleveland area who objected to the closing
of her church by Bishop Leonard a couple years back -wrote the Holy Father who I
believe was Benedict XVI at the time, and he reversed Bishop Leonard’s decision.

I don’t know how her letter managed to be read because I am sure he gets a huge
number of them every day. It is a mystery to me. However, all I can do is try and pray.
I will always regret if I hadn’t tried. Sadly, there are too many people who do nothing.