Saint Raphael parish grows too big for its church


BAY VILLAGE - Gallup released a poll this week, stating less than half of Americans have visited a religious service in the last seven days.

Declining attendance at religious institutions all across the nation has forced some churches to merge together or close. Despite the national trend, Saint Raphael catholic church in Bay Village is having to upgrade its' facilities just so everyone has a place to sit.

Saint Raphael is home to over 775 students at the school and over 750 students that go to other day schools but comet there for religion. Over 60 years old, Saint Raphael's parish holds about 650 people, but with people forced to stand during the 6 weekend masses, they've bucked attendance trend and outgrown their current facilities.

Saint Raphael needed to hold 9 masses over the Christmas holiday just to accommodate everyone.

Father Tim Gareau says, "It's not that we're better or any worse. We're just trying to do what everybody else is trying to do, one person at a time."

The plan for a new church began in 2006 when they held meetings to raise money and discuss a solution. The parish decided to build an activity center, where mass will be held during the transition phase.

The last mass at the current church will be held on June 8th. The new building is scheduled to open on August 22nd and will hold about 1100 people.

Gareau said, "It's a real blessing. I don't know what the secret is, I hope it's the holy spirit and the gifts that are drawn out of the people of god here through our leadership of the parish."

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