Help out Father Bob Begin, the parish priest at St. Colman Church.

From: Paul S.
Sent on: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 11:12 AM

We have a special affinity for St. Colman Church and Father Bob Begin.  It was he and the church members who opened the door to us when we lost our previous home.  St. Colman Church has now been our winter home for the past four years.  It is in keeping with this generosity and warmth that I am asking that you return the love by getting involved in the efforts to keep Father Bob on as parish priest.  Below is more information on what has happened and how you can get involved.  A warning: think of this as not just a feel good effort, a change in leadership of the church might also affect our ability to continue drumming at the church.

I am asking for your help in righting a wrong.  Father Bob Begin, a priest at St. Colman Church in Cleveland is being forced to resign against his wish to continue as head of his parish.  This man is emblematic of the words of Christ in how he directs his parish to care for the poor and the unde rserved in our community.  Father Bob doesn't just talk about helping the underprivileged, he and the church members do something about it: they raise money to help get homeless off the street, have community meals for the poor, provide continuing education classes, provide assistance in finding affordable housing for the Liberian refugees who had to flee the civil war in their homeland and moved into our community.  Father Bob and St. Colman's do what Christ asks of us,  and now he is being forced to leave.  This would create a huge void in our community, so I am asking that you please sign a petition asking that the Catholic Diocese reconsider their stance on forcing Father Bob out.  Here is the link to the petition site: https://www.change.org/petitions/bishop-richard-lennon-keep-fr-bob-begin-as-pastor-of-st-colman-church.  The deadline the church has placed on signing the petition is the end of the day today (June 19th) as time is of the essence and they want to make their presence known as soon as possible.  I would greatly appreciate your help in this matter. 

For anyone so inclined to help further, the church has also requested that we send a letter to the Archbishop for the United States.  His name and contact information is:

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio
Apostolic Nunciature, United States of America
3339 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington DC[masked]

I have included the letter I wrote to him, the request was that these letters be sent by Friday June 21.  I would greatly appreciate any help you can offer, Father Bob is an essential component of this community and has been so for the past forty years.  Those who have no voice need people like Father Bob on their side.  Those of us that do have a voice need to exercise it.  Thank you.

Here is the letter:

Archbishop Carlo Vigano Apostolic Nuncio

Archbishop Vigano

The purpose of my letter is to address what I believe to be a grave injustice by the Catholic Church with the forced retirement of Father Bob Begin of Saint Colman’s church in Cleveland.  Upon reaching age seventy-five, Father Bob was required to submit a letter of resignation.  He did so, but also included a statement about his health: that he had an examination and was declared fit both physically and mentally to continue his duties were he to choose to.  He also submitted a statement that he still had the passion to lead the congregation.  In the face of this ability and enthusiasm about remaining as Pastor, Bishop Lennon and the Catholic Diocese choose to accept Father Begin’s forced letter of resignation.

I am not a parishioner of Saint Colman’s, however I have worked closely with Father Bob and his associate, Eileen Kelly, as part of my being a volunteer for an organization called Care Alliance, which does outreach for the homeless and the disadvantaged.  On many occasions I have sought help from Father Bob and Eileen in helping with our clients and they have always come through.  They have provided financial assistance when needed to help get someone off the street, they have also done a tremendous amount of legwork in cutting through the red tape of bureaucracy to help someone with documents so that our clients may get an ID or financial aid.  Father Bob’s passion for the homeless ripples through the fabric of the church and the community.

Within the church doors Father Bob has grown the community, stabilized the churches finance, assisted refugees and the homeless, been involved in the community, most recently hosting the Cleveland Orchestra so that they might do their own outreach into the community.  By hosting the entire orchestra to perform at Saint Colman’s, Father Bob was the linchpin that enabled the orchestra to showcase themselves at smaller venues throughout the community, like the local coffee shop, the butcher shop, restaurants and theaters.

Father Bob is passionate in his sharing Christ’s message of helping the poor.  He commits to the ministry both in words and in actions.  From my perspective he is most closely aligned with the message of Jesus, and we as a community that has a large population of poor who are in need, are blessed to have him as the head of that ministry.  What Bishop Lennon has chosen to do, does a disservice to the parishioners and to the community. 

I think of the alignment of Father’ Bob’s mission with the tone Pope Francis’  has brought to the leadership of the Catholic Church and I am appalled at the position that the local Diocese and Bishop Lennon have taken regarding Father Bob’s willingness to continue serving.  This action of forcing Father Bob out not only has a direct physical impact on the community and the church, it serves to weaken the spiritual integrity of the church as well.  As a person who is Catholic and a part of the church community, but not a parishioner of the church, the message Bishop Lennon is sending to me only reinforces the autocracy I believe the church suffers from.  The message from the authority within the church is hypocritical to the teachings of Christ.  The Catholic Church suffers from a declining base, and a shortage of priests.  The Church also just recently appointed a Pope who at age seventy six, was deemed fit enough to lead the entire church.  I can’t help but think that politics are involved in this decision which should be no component of true disciples of Christ.  I urge you to reverse the decision of the Cleveland Diocese and of Bishop Lennon and allow a good man, a holy man continue the ministry of Christ.

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