DescriptionSt. Patrick Catholic Church in Cleveland's West Park is one of the oldest parishes in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. The parish was established in 1848 by Reverend Amadeus Rappe, the first bishop of Cleveland and the founder of St. Vincent Charity Hospital. The original parish included about thirty families, most of whom were of Irish descent but also included some German families. The first church was built in 1854 on the site of what is now the cemetery at the northeast corner of Rocky River Drive and Puritas Avenue. The first mass was celebrated in the current church on Christmas Day 1898. The original portion of the church, which still stands today, was expanded in 1953 to accommodate the growing parish.
One of the unique components of the parish property, which includes the church, rectory, community center, gymnasium, and school buildings, is the cemetery. The cemetery, with a total of 211 plots, is the burial site of many early Rockport Township pioneers, the first being buried in 1861. At several times throughout the history of the cemetery, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Catholic Diocese have tried to have all or portions of the cemetery relocated. For instance, in 1949 the diocese wanted to move the cemetery to its own section of the new Holy Cross Cemetery on Brookpark Road, but parishioners insisted it stay on church grounds. Fortunately, this urban cemetery remains intact to this day.
Throughout the years St. Patrick Church, which ultimately grew to over 1,100 families, served not only its parishioners, but also the entire West Park community. Outreach included sports programs open to all, fundraisers for police and fire fighter funds, and a space for Alcoholics Anonymous and other community meetings. The church also operated a hunger center for over 30 years which fed about 130 families a month and more around holidays.
In May 2009, St. Patrick Church was ordered to close by Bishop Richard Lennon, and the parish was to merge with those of Ascension and Annunciation as part of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese downsizing. After several unsuccessful appeals to the diocese and the Vatican, the church ultimately closed. But, in the summer of 2011, hope for the future of the church was revived when the Vatican panel considering appeals--and investigating the conduct of the Cleveland Diocese--extended St. Patrick's appeal to March 2012. As a result, the future of St. Patrick Catholic Church, West Park, is still unresolved.