Parishioners at St. Casimir Church in Cleveland celebrated the five-year anniversary of the "Miracle of St. Casimir" on Sunday.
St. Casimir's Joseph Feckanin says the celebration was to remember the decrees issued from Rome on the first week of March 2012 to reopen 11 closed Cleveland Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Cleveland.
Feckanin added that Saturday marked the celebration of St. Casimir Feast Day, "which coincides with why many call the event a miracle. St. Casimir Church was formed as a Polish ethnic parish in 1891.
On Nov. 8, 2009, the church was officially closed by Bishop Richard Lennon in what some call a "Mass of Eviction," Feckanin said. "The evening of the closure, a parishioner Dr. Michael Klymiuk at St. Casimir's Church said he had a dream from the Blessed Mother of Jesus and said 'Do Not Leave Me.' The following day, he phoned other parishioners and they agreed to hold a prayer vigil the next Sunday, November 15, in front of the padlocked church. This first prayer vigil was the first of 139 weekly prayer vigils held on the street."
Feckanin continued, "Soon, people of all backgrounds joined them in the street. Many of these people came from closed parishes or those threatened to be closed. Later other closed parishes held their own prayer vigils outside their closed churches every Sunday. These vigils attracted local, national, and international media in print, radio, and in television. The cries of these Catholics were heard all the way to Rome. After two and a half years of meeting each Sunday in the cold, rain, wind, snow, and heat, some grew weary but nobody gave up."
"The faithful Catholics on the street were inspired by the words of the late Pope Paul John II ' Do not be afraid' -- in Polish: "Nie Bojcie Sie" -- to speak up for what they feel is just and right. These words gave them the strength to not give up. On a warm March 7, 2012 the TV screens scrolled the breaking news that the Vatican had issued decrees ordering the Cleveland Diocese to reopen eleven closed Cleveland Catholic churches."
According multiple histories of the church, St. Casimir was the son of the king of Poland and the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Casimir, ruled in 15th century and was canonized and designated by the Vatican as a patron saint of Lithuania. He is Lithuania's only saint.