Cleveland: Parish petitions Bishop to keep their priest

10:55 PM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Since 1994, Father Robert Begin has been a part of St. Colman Catholic Church on W. 65th Street.

Many say Fr. Begin's dedication to the community through service, outreach and pastoral care has elevated the St. Colman to become the heart of its neighborhood.

"Father Bob IS St. Colman's right now. He is the heart of the community, and he does things for everyone in this community. The poor, the underprivilaged, the rich, the wealthy," says parishioner Jeanne Gallagher.

But his leadership may soon come to an end, and not by personal choice.

Per Catholic Church law, a pastor must submit his letter of resignation when he is 75 years of age. 

The diocese may then consider to accept or defer the resignation.

Fr. Begin made it clear, he says in a letter to St. Colman parishioners, that he told the diocese he wanted to stay on "and continue being a part of the great momentum of growth in ministry and mission that is sweeping through St. Colman Parish."

Fr. Begin underwent a physical examination and mental acumen assessment to ascertain he was fit to continue as pastor.

But in early June, Bishop Richard Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland shocked Fr. Begin by accepting the resignation.

In the three weeks since, the St. Colman community has rallied behind their priest.  They started a petition online, gathering over 2,400 signatures, asking Bishop Lennon to defer Begin's resignation and allow him to continue serving as head of their church.

Begin told his congregation, he has no explanation of why the bishop made his decision.

In the last four years, as the diocese began closing parish after parish, Fr. Begin organized a grassroots effort to keep St. Colman open.  He took the case all the way to the Vatican, and won.

"I think forcing his resignation is going to severely impact, in a negative way, the positive endeavors in this neighborhood," said Ariel Clayton, who plays violin in Sunday mass at St. Colman.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Cleveland tells Channel 3, because this is a personnel issue, there will be no further comment.


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