CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – It was announced earlier this month that two Campbell churches will be closing in November. Parishioners gathered Monday evening to discuss how to fight the closure.
Parishioners at St. Lucy’s Church in Campbell say they are disheartened by the decision to close the church. This is not the first time St. Lucy’s Church has been closed.
“The parishioners at this church have been basically kicked to the curb twice by the diocese,” said Jon Paul Bruno, a St. Lucy’s Church parishioner.
The decision comes due to a mounting debt of nearly $850,000.
Parishioners at the meetings say they want to know where that debt came from.
“Why in nine years did this congregation accrue $850,000 in debt and no steps were taken to alleviate that debt?” Bruno said.
In 2015, the parishioners took their fight to the Vatican and won. Now, six years later, they’re back and say the fight has just begun.
In their letter announcing the closure, the diocese states that the decision to close St. Lucy Church and St. Joseph the Provider Church was agreed on by the parishioners.
“That statement is wholly untruthful. It wasn’t agreed on by the parishioners. It was a four… four… three tie,” Bruno said.
Parishioners say they just want transparency and answers from the diocese.
“We understand that there’s parishes that are gonna have to close, but the way the diocese went about it… they weren’t very truthful with all the parishes. Not just St. Lucy’s but all the parishes involved,” said Albert Gerlick, another parishioner.
The St. Lucy’s parishioners at the meeting plan to hire an independent forensic accountant to look into the debt, and if needed, they’ll take their fight once again to the Vatican.
Around 9:15 p.m. Monday, First News received a statement from the Youngstown Catholic Diocese. It read in part, “The decision to close church buildings is always painful. Like any family, we must live in reality. We cannot give what we do not have.”