Three members of St. Rose Catholic Church in Perrysburg presented a petition with over 1,500 signatures to the Toledo Catholic Diocese yesterday asking Bishop Leonard Blair to keep the Rev. Thomas Leyland as their pastor.
Joan Foster, one of the leaders of the petition drive, said she was told the bishop was in a meeting and unavailable.
The Rev. Marvin Borger, vicar general and chancellor of the diocese, whom Bishop Blair appointed part-time associate pastor of St. Rose effective Monday, accepted the petitions from parishioners.
The St. Rose members also requested a meeting with Bishop Blair tomorrow morning to discuss Father Leyland's fate.
They did not receive a response yesterday.
"Everyone was extremely cordial and it was a nonevent," Mrs. Foster said of the visit to the Catholic Center.
Father Leyland, 69, is scheduled to retire Sunday but has appealed to the Vatican to intercede, saying he is being forced out of the pastorate because of his public criticism of Bishop Blair.
The priest spoke out in 2005, saying he and other church leaders were not consulted when a newly created parish cut deeply into St. Rose's territory.
The diocese has stated repeatedly that Father Leyland's retirement and other personnel moves were routine and unrelated to any public criticism of the bishop.