Pushed from the pulpit? - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Church Controversy: Pushed from the pulpit?

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Saint Coleman parish Saint Coleman parish
Resignation acceptance letter Bishop Lennon Resignation acceptance letter Bishop Lennon
Father Robert Begin Father Robert Begin
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Hundreds of parishioners packed Saint Colman's in Cleveland Monday for a special ceremony to try to keep their priest.

"A lot of people have come here because of his leadership, his compassion, his caring," says Parishioner Rosie Toth.

Many churchgoers are concerned their beloved pastor, Father Robert Begin, is being pushed out by Bishop Richard Lennon. They say he's being forced to retire after nearly 20 years as their spiritual leader.

Some say it's because he was vocal, fighting to keep their church open when the bishop wanted to close the doors.

"He doesn't put himself up on any thrones. He looks to be one of the people and follow the Lords way. I don't know if we could get somebody else that could do that," says parishioner Rita Gaertner.

According to church law it's required that pastors turn in their resignation at the age of 75 -- something Father Begin did last month despite wanting to stay.

"I want to stay here and work with the people. I would be very happy to continue working and that I was in good physical health, and that the people seem to be happy with me," says Father Robert Begin.

In the resignation acceptance letter Bishop Lennon said "I am grateful for your 49 years of priestly ministry, particularly your commitment and service to the people of St. Colman parish."

Now parishioners can only pray that the bishop will let "Father Bob", as they affectionately call him, stay.

"I don't think he asked the people what they wanted," says Father Begin.

Father Begin's resignation is supposed to begin in September. Parishioners are signing a petition to send to the bishop this week, along with writing letters to the to the Pope.

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