Columbus Neighborhoods: Saving St. Leo Church

By | August 30, 2019


ST. LEO’S CHURCH WAS THE HEART OF THEIR COMMUNITY. THEY WERE DEVASTATED WHEN THEY LEARNED IT WOULD BE CLOSED. AND WHAT THEY DID TO KEEP IT GOING IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE INTENSE PRIDE AND LOYALTY MANY PEOPLE FEEL FOR THE SOUTH SIDE AND ITS INSTITUTIONS.>>PEOPLE ARE MOVING. THEY DON’T LIVE WHERE THEY USED TO LIVE. AND SO, UNFORTUNATELY THERE’S BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF A NEED TO REORGANIZE PERISHES. ONE OF THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THE DECISION TO CLOSE IT IS AN ACTIVE PERISH WAS JUST THAT. IT WASN’T IN GOOD CONDITION. THE ORGAN WAS KIND OF SYMBOLIC OF THAT.>>THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL EDUCATED THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN. THERE WAS THOUSANDS OF WEDDINGS HERE. MY OWN PARENTS WERE MARRIED HERE AS WELL MY MOTHER’S 52 COUSINS.>>I WAS BAPTIZED IN THIS CHURCH IN 1944. MY FAMILY, MY GRANDPARENTS, YOU KNOW THIS WAS THEIR CHURCH. THE BISHOP’S PEOPLE WOULD ASK ME IF I’D STAY ON AND PROTECT THE PROPERTY UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THEY TORE IT DOWN OR DID SOMETHING ELSE WITH IT. YEAH, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ME BECAUSE IT’S FAMILY, IT’S HISTORY, IT’S THE ROOTS. THERE IS WHERE I STARTED AT. AND I LOVE FOR IT.>>WE ACTUALLY HIRED A LAWYER IN ROME AND TRIED TO ENCOURAGE THE DIOCESE TO WORK WITH US SO WE COULD FIGURE OUT A HAPPY SOLUTION THAT HELPS THE DIOCESE, HELPS THE LOCAL CATHOLIC COMMUNITY, AND HELPS EVERYONE.>>I SPENT TWO AND A HALF YEARS REDECORATING, AND REPAINTING, AND DOING ALL THE STENCILS AND THE ARTWORK. AND I DID THAT ON MY OWN TIME. AND OUTSIDE LABOR. SO, WHEN YOU SAY THE LABOR AND DO IT YOURSELF, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY THERE’S LABOR THERE, BUT MY TIME IS MY OWN. SO, I WAS ABLE TO DONATE THAT TIME. MUSIC MUSIC>>Announcer: ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES BRINGING ST. LEO’S BACK FROM THE BRINK WAS THE SAD STATE OF THE CHURCH’S ORGAN WHICH WAS IN COMPLETE DISREPAIR.>>I’M A SHEET METAL WORK BY TRADE. I HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF HOW TO BUILD AN ORGAN. WELL, I WAS WILLING TO LEARN AND I DID EXACTLY WHAT I WAS TOLD TO DO AND THAT’S HOW IT WORKED. THERE’S 30 — 3,600 PIPES IN THIS ORGAN. AND EVERYTHING WAS TAKEN DOWN, CLEANED, PUT BACK.>>HE SINGLE HANDILY UNDERTOOK EVERYTHING THAT HE POSSIBLY COULD. AND HE HAD THE SKILL THEN RALLIED A NUMBER OF THE PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH THE RESOURCES FOR THE PROFESSIONAL WORK.>>I HAVE TONS OF VOLUNTEERS HERE THAT WANT TO BE INVOLVED WITH THIS CHURCH. I HAVE PEOPLE WHO DO THE GRASS FOR ME EVERY WEEK. I HAVE PEOPLE DO THE YARD WORK EVERY WEEK OR MONTH. CLEAN THE FLOWERBEDS OUT. SORT OF INTERESTING WHEN YOU DEAL WITH PEOPLE LIKE THAT. THEY CAN’T COME INTO CHURCH AND DO SOMETHING, BUT THEY WANT TO PRESERVE IT. THEY WANT IT HERE FOR HISTORY.

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