Cleveland liquidating churches, holy items
Cleveland Catholic Diocese puts church items up for sale online
By Gabriel Baird

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The scattering of sacred and religious artifacts from parishes closed by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is under way.
The diocese's online liquidator is advertising hundreds of items for sale: Baptismal fonts where generations of area Catholics entered the church. Ornate altars that priests stood behind as they consecrated the bread and wine. The gold-plated chalices from which communion was served countless times.

The objects are only available to Catholic parishes and other religious institutions, including hospitals, monasteries and schools, said diocese spokesman Robert Tayek. "These items are not available to the public," Tayek said. All sales must be approved by the diocese chancellor.

Neighboring parishes to those that have closed have the first option to buy the religious goods, which include crucifixes, statues of Mary, Joseph and other saints, and tabernacles. The site listed 689 items Tuesday with an asking price of $939,101.25, a reviewed showed.

A Votteler Holtkamp Sparling Organ dating to 1927, and two other organs are the highest priced pieces, which is listed at $25,000 each. Another organ, which was built in 1947 and rebuilt in 1993 by Krejci and Sons in Avon Lake, is offered for $8,000. The sited listed 223 stained-glass windows, including one depicting Christ blessing the sick, which is among the highest priced at $7,500. The price of a 12-foot tall dark-stained wooden crucifix in fair condition is set at $4,500. The least expensive object: advent candle stands with a removable wreath for $5.

In a description about the site,, it explains, "This website is intended to facilitate the respectful disposition of sacred and religious goods that will be available as a result of the clustering process engaged in by the Diocese of Cleveland," according to the site. If buyers don't see what they want, they can receive email alerts as new items are listed. Prices were set by appraisers, Tayek said.

"They are experts in religious items and goods," Tayek said. He declined to identify the appraisers. The diocese is selling the items with the help of the Cleveland-based Henninger's, which has sold religious supplies in the area for decades, according to the company Web site. Officials from Henninger's declined to comment.

Many items come from 14 area churches that have closed since April. More items will be added as the diocese continues to close parishes. In all, 50 parishes are set to be closed. Money raised from the sales of objects from closed parishes that were combined with others will go to the newly formed parishes. Money from churches that were simply closed will go to the diocese, Tayek said.

"The diocese and the broader church has a responsibility to be a good steward for the items," Tayek said. "You can't necessarily just give them away (to other parishes in the diocese)." A portion of the money will be used to pay for closing churches. "It is very costly to close a parish," Tayek said.

Artifacts that can't be sold or otherwise reused will be destroyed, the diocese said in a previous interview. The sale of items from closed churches is not new -- at least not in the Cleveland diocese. Over the decades, the diocese has had similar sales when other churches closed, Tayek said. What is new is how it is being done. In the past, Catholic institutions could have been notified of sales by word of mouth or perhaps fliers. But the church is now using new technology.

"It's done on that web site so that it can be seen by the other parishes," Tayek said. He was not sure of the policies of other dioceses. "This system is surely not church-wide from diocese to diocese," Tayek said.


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Cleveland liquidating churches, holy items - by Magdalene - 11-02-2009, 02:54 PM

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