I may not always pick current local history topics, but I am going to start with current ones. The first topic will be the closings of Catholic parishes between 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, the Catholic diocese of Cleveland announced that it was closing 29 parishes and merging 41 other parishes into 18 new parishes. The diocese cited declining vocations to the priesthood, parish debt, as well as suburban sprawl as reasons for the closures.
Now, none of these reasons were actually in dispute. Most people would readily agree that the number of priests in the diocese was declining, that finances during the Great Recession were even tighter than ever, and that people had been moving out of the city centers and into the suburbs for decades.
Despite all of this, the closing of the parishes were incredibly controversial. There were protests, financial campaigns, formal organizations, even canonical appeals to the Vatican that forced a few parishes to reopen.
Why were these closures so contentious? What motivated people to fight back? How did people fight back?
It is far, far too early to review the results of the parish closings, but I may consider them.
I have been reviewing the articles from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and I found videos on Youtube related to the closings. I don’t know if the local history centers will have information, but I will check them out. I will also see if I can get access to the archives of Cleveland City Council. I found evidence in the Plain Dealer that City Council fought some of the closures.
I’ll report my findings as I go, and I’ll stop once the trail run cold. Or I get bored.
Wish me luck!