Burt Wade, who has a view of St. Hedwig Church from the porch of his home along Bronson Street, says the structure is a landmark. He said he worries its closing will contribute to blight in North Toledo’s Polish Village. Parishioners were told Sunday the church would close.
St. Hedwig Church, which has been an anchor in North Toledo’s Polish Village for 121 years, will close in September except for special events such as weddings, the church’s pastor told parishioners during Sunday Mass.
The Rev. Joseph Poggemeyer, pastor of Sts. Adalbert and Hedwig Parish, said the St. Hedwig campus would close effective Sept. 1
The two churches, both on Lagrange Street, were merged into a single parish two years ago. The St. Adalbert building will remain open.
“They are old buildings with a lot of problems and bills,” Father Poggemeyer said.
“I know it is really hard for parishioners and we will still use the building,” he said. “I have heard many people say that they knew this was coming.”
The number of people attending Mass during three services at both churches could be accommodated by a single Mass at St. Adalbert, Father Poggemeyer said.
People in the neighborhood were disappointed to learn of the closing.
“They are closing all of the positive things in the neighborhood,” said Norb Kirian, a former parishioner who operates a handyman business on Lagrange near Mettler Street.
“I have been in this neighborhood all my life,” Mr. Kirian said. “It is just one thing after another here.”
The Catholic Diocese’s presence in the neighborhood has been diminishing over the last several years.
In February, 2005, Bishop Leonard Blair announced the diocese would close St. Hedwig school and two others. It is vacant.
Former parishioner Norb Kirian, on the steps of St. Hedwig Church, says, ‘They are closing all of the positive things in the neighborhood.’
The name of St. Adalbert Elementary was changed to Pope John Paul II school but a charter school operates in that building, Father Poggemeyer said.
Beth Lewandowski, board of directors president of United North, a nonprofit neighborhood group in North Toledo, said the closing was not unexpected but would still be a blow to the neighborhood.
“They cut back on the Masses to begin with, and I know there are a lot of people unhappy, particularly the older people,” she said.
Burt Wade, who lives along Bronson Street with a view of St. Hedwig from his front porch, worries the closing will contribute to blight.
“It’s such a landmark and cultural icon,” Mr. Wade said.
Sally Oberski, spokesman for the diocese, emphasized that the St. Hedwig Church building would not be boarded up.
“A change in the Sunday Mass schedule of Sts. Adalbert and Hedwig Parish does not constitute a closing of the Saint Hedwig church building, as some have mistakenly concluded.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.