PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Friday, September 20, 2019; St. Malachi Church, 2459 Washington Avenue: This sculpture, a Pietá – the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, — was exhibited at the Chicago World Fair in 1893. Carved out of one block of wood, the sculpture was saved and restored after a fire destroyed the original St. Malachi Church on December 23, 1943. It now can be viewed in the Memorial St. Malachi Church.
PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Friday, September 20, 2019; St. Malachi Church, 2459 Washington Avenue: This statue of St. Paul was purchased by the congregation in 2013 in celebration of the 60th jubilee anniversary of the priesthood of former pastor Reverend Paul Hritz.
PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Friday, September 20, 2019; St. Malachi Church, 2459 Washington Avenue: The baptismal font is the same font used in the original church. It was saved from the December 23, 1943 fire.
PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Friday, September 20, 2019; St. Malachi Church, 2459 Washington Avenue: The sanctuary of St. Malachi Church.
St. Malachi Parish to celebrate tenth anniversary of merger with Community of St. Malachi
(Plain Press, November 2019) St. Malachi Parish will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the merger of the Community of St. Malachi with St. Malachi Parish on Sunday, November 10th. There will only be one mass (liturgy) that morning at 10 a.m. followed by a brunch. All are welcome.
Both St. Malachi Parish and the Community of St. Malachi have a history of serving the poor in the neighborhood and have been instrumental in creating other nonprofit organizations that provide services to the community. Some of the associated ministries that have roots stemming from St. Malachi include: Malachi Center which provides outreach ministry to families and children; Malachi House which serves as a home to the terminally ill; Urban Community School, and the Ursuline Sisters’ St. Malachi Convent.
The St. Malachi Church Guide and the St. Malachi Parish 150th Anniversary booklet provide some insight into the history of the parish.
Originally founded in November of 1865 to serve Irish immigrants in the “Old Angle,” the parish originally celebrated at St. Mary-of-the-Flats on Columbus Road. From its earliest days the parish had a history of serving the poor. The 150th Anniversary booklet speaks of the first pastor of the parish, the Irish born Father James Molony, who served the parish from 1865 to 1903, and his service to the poor. “On cold nights, Father went to the river and invited men sleeping outside to come into the church hall.” Today, on cold nights the Metanoia Project, also uses the church hall to provide hospitality, and a warm place for the homeless to sleep.
The parish laid the cornerstone of their church on Washington Avenue in 1867 and celebrated the first mass in the new church on Christmas of 1868.
The oldest building on parish property is the rectory built in 1834, which was originally a sea captain’s house.
The school building was built in 1885. It was originally a girl’s school under the direction of the Ursuline Sisters. The boy’s school no longer exists. In 1916 the boys’ and girls’ schools were merged and St. Malachi School continued as a parochial school until 1968. In 1968, St. Malachi School merged with St. Patrick School to form Urban Community School.
The industrialization of the flats took many of the houses in the parish and left the parish with just 50 families at one point. In the 1930 the creation of public housing just north of St. Malachi Church brought new families to the neighborhood. Lakeview Terrace public housing opened in 1937, and the St. Malachi Parish 150th Anniversary booklet notes “the new housing created by Lakeview Terrace probably saved the parish and St. Malachi grew to 400 families.”
Tragedy struck the parish on December 23, 1943 when the original church caught fire. While the church building could not be saved, some of the statues and the baptismal font were rescued. When the new church was built, the parish put in stained glass windows and art that honored those who had contributed to the parish over the years. This included a window with St. Joseph to honor the men of the parish and one dedicated to St. Anne to honor the women of the parish. Windows were also dedicated to former pastors of the parish as well as a St. Ursula window dedicated to the Ursuline Nuns who taught in the parish school.
The Community of St Malachi began forming in the late 1960’s as a result of Fr Paul Hritz (then a theology professor at the Old St John College in downtown Cleveland) asking some friends who worked there to join him on Sunday mornings for Liturgy (Mass) at St Malachi where he had begun to serve on weekends. By the time 1970 rolled in, his inspiring Sunday homilies had attracted many more people who were also interested in following both Fr. Paul’s interests in serving the poor in the neighborhood as well as creating a renewed parish according to the results of the Second Vatican Council held in Rome in the 1960’s.
From that time until 1975, many worked to establish a parish with greater lay leadership, more vibrant liturgical practice, and a greater presence in the area surrounding the church with the establishment of a Monday Night Meal (still offering a hot meal on Monday evening to this day) and other ecumenical and social justice programs. In 1975 that group was given the official name of the Community of St. Malachi and designated as a personal parish of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. Fr. Hritz was named pastor of both the original St Malachi Parish and the Community. That status lasted until after major moves in the Diocese to consolidate, partner, and close some parishes as we moved into the 21stcentury.
In 2009 the two Malachi parishes were merged as one and were partnered with St Patrick on Bridge Ave and St Wendelin on Columbus Road. Fr. Tony Schuerger, who had replaced Fr. Paul Hritz after his retirement, continued as pastor.
As partnered parishes, St. Malachi, St Patrick, and St Wendelin, work to continue their own missions as well as joint efforts with children and youth religious education programs, welcoming new residents (over 7,100 welcome letters have been mailed in the past four years), shared scripture study and prayer. The three parishes also rotate the celebration of Mass on the Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving holidays.
Today the ministries of St. Malachi Parish include: Backdoor Ministry which serves food daily and offers personal care items and clothing; Monday night meal; Saturday Breakfast; Metanoia Project; 20s and 30s Group; email Alerts and Rediscovering Sunday Morning at St. Malachi which features speakers, discussions, and other special programs.
Going forward, St Malachi Church is committed to continuing as part of the neighborhood community. It will participate in shared efforts at serving the area through its Mission, Creation Care for the physical world, and the people who live here. If you as an individual or a group would like to learn more about this parish which has been in the community since 1865, we would be happy to meet you for a tour of the church as well as information about its many programs. In 2020, the 40th anniversary of the Malachi Run will occur on March 14. This raises funds for the food ministries at St Malachi. Detailed info (and early registration) can be found at runstmalachi.com.
For more information about the parish simply contact the Church Office at 216-563-1993 or connect on the Web www.StMalachi.org.
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