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Noon(ish): Lennon’s Legacy And Breen’s Benevolence

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Downtown Cleveland [Nagel Photography / Shutterstock]
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Downtown Cleveland

The view from the Idea Center

Sitting in for Amy this week – I’m Rick Jackson.

It certainly seems Northeast Ohio is losing more than our fair share of leaders lately...  Steve Minter, Morton Mandel, Toni Morrison, Peter Van Dijk, Fred McLeod, and our own A. Grace Lee Mims among them.

Two more giants were added to that list today, as we learn of the deaths of Jack Breen, former CEO at Sherwin Williams, and the 10th Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, Bishop Richard Lennon.

Breen, like so many others lost this year, was a significant philanthropic figure in the Cleveland community, serving on many boards of directors and making financial contributions noted and unknown.

Bishop Lennon was much more than just the leader of the region's then-nearly 800,000 Catholics. He was an icon to many non-Catholic residents as well.

During his episcopacy in Cleveland, Bishop Lennon established a vision for the diocese focusing on evangelization. And even as the number of parishes and parishioners were declining, he was determined that the presence of the Church remain.

When overseeing the geographic re-organization of parishes and the eventual closing of some 50 churches drew ire, his demeanor at doing "God's work" propelled him through the difficulties and the lashing out of some church members.

Though a non-Catholic myself, Lennon, when I spoke with him or was otherwise in his presence, commanded such respect, as deserved by someone who served 43 years from ordination to retirement.

We had known since he asked Pope Francis to grant him early retirement status that his health was not good, the closing of this chapter will be mourned by many more than those of his faith.

See you bright and (I think I'd forgotten just how) early on the radio tomorrow!
Rick Jackson


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Your ideas

Bishop Richard G. Lennon died Tuesday. He led the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland during a time of parish closures and consolidation. Were you impacted? What is your church experience like a decade later?
Call us at  (216) 916-6476 or post on  our Facebook page. We'll feature some of your thoughts and comments here in Noon(ish) and on Morning Edition.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.