Dead Catholic Churches Becoming Greenhouses

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For those who have wondered what will become of all the beautiful old churches mothballed during the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland’s recent contraction, one Jesus-approved answer has emerged.

The diocese is set to announce that the former St. George Lithuanian Parish at East 65th and Superior will be rechristened “Community Greenhouse Partners,” yet another installment in the growing movement to return Cleveland to a pre-industrial village of hunter-gatherers.

“The Bishop has signed off on it, saying this is a reputable use,” says spokesman Bob Tayek. “We’re gratified that we have a buyer for the property that fits the criteria we’ve established. The new owner would be there to benefit the whole neighborhood.”

Parishioners from old St. George said their final Mass in the building in October 2009, then migrated to the newly formed St. Casimir parish in Collinwood. Unlike some other urban parishes, St. George moved along relatively quietly.

Modeled after a successful program in Milwaukee, Community Greenhouse Partners was profiled in the August 11 Scene article “Down on the Farm.” The newly christened building and almost three acres around it will be home to year-round gardens, honeybees, and maybe even poultry and livestock.

Tim Smith, the group’s leader, says the barren church met all of their criteria.

“It had to be a food desert, it had to be in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, it had to be near schools, and it had to be on reliable and varied public transportation routes,” he says.

“We want to put down deep roots and know our future is secure and no one will be able to kick us out,” Smith adds, echoing a sentiment that might possibly have been shared by St. George’s founding fathers.

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