Our Lady                    Help of                        Christians
          at                                  Litchfield

        Our Lady                       Help of                           Christians
            at                                     Lodi

        Our Lady                       Help of                           Christians
            at                                     Nova

        Our Lady                       Help of                           Christians
            at                                     Seville


Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Parish really began with a mother's prayer.  Her prayer was answered in June of 1976 when Bishop James Hickey met with Pope Paul VI and was asked to evangelize the 'unchurched' Catholics in his diocese.  Upon returning home, Bishop Hickey conferred with Fr. John Fiala, who had grown up in the rural area at the far southeastern corner of the Cleveland diocese where the Catholic population had to travel many mailes to attend Mass.

The needs of the area were researched and the decision was made to establish one parish with multiple worship sites that would include a geographical area of 500 square miles in Medina, Wayne, Lorain and Ashland Counties.  This new concept of parish would be overseen by a Pastoral Team made up of clergy, vowed religious, and lay pastoral ministers working collaboratively to shepherd the parish into existence and continue to journey into the future.  The original Pastoral Team was made up of three priests, four vowed religious and the Diocese's very first lay pastoral minister.

Diocesan land in rural Litchfield, where the diocese previuosly operated a home for boys with special needs, became available.   This property, with two existing buildings, became the administration site and residences for the Pastoral Team.   Shortly after the parish was established in April of 1976, the first weekend Masses were celebrated on June 26th and 27th in homes, town halls, school cafeterias and rented churches.  There was a strong sense of ownership among the parishioners.  As the parish grew, parishioners constructed multipurpose worship sites, a priest's residence and renovated the existing structures.

Today, Our Lady Help of Christians no longer functions with a Pastoral Team.  It is currently served by a pastor, a parochial vicar and a lay pastoral minister.  The parish, however, has remained dedicated to its original call of collaboration and operates with a strong sense of partnership.  The pastoral leadership along with parishioners work together through this sense of partnership to empower each other in taking their rightful roles in the life of this dynamic parish.  Our Lady Help of Christians is comprised of four worship sites located in Litchfield, Lodi, Nova and Seville.   Administration Offices and residences are located at the Litchfield site.  In describing the parish community, the word "unique" comes to mind.  While the parish is comprised of four worship sites, it does not define itself with the words "cluster" or "cooperative".  Rather it is a single parish comprised of four worship sites, founded as one to collaborate in a shared mission and unified sense of purpose.

From its founding and up to the present day, the parish identifies itself as one dedicated to a strong social justice effort.   Many parishioners continue to participate in small faith-based communites that have been in existence for more than fifteen years.  A family-based faith formation program provides all ages with instruction and learning opportunities about the Catholic faith.  Our Lady Help of Christians parishioners maintain a parish pantry which provides support to all who are within the parish boundaries.  Parishioners also prepare and serve a free monthly meal at the Lodi Methodist Church.   The Parish Outreach Garden volunteers produce fresh vegetables for the parish pantry and the community as well.  The parish also continues to be involved in the Church in the City Program with parners, St. Christopher's Parish and St. Colman's Parish.

Our Lady Help of Christians is an inter-active parish.  Since the parish's inception, many volunteers have been needed to maintain the vitality of the parish.  Gifts of Time, Treasure and Talent are welcomed and nurtured here and truly make a much-appreciated contribution to the Our Lady Help of Christians Spirit!

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the original article from the Visitor, June 14,1977