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St. Dom's pastor explains plans to fight back



Published: Sun, October 10, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

RELATED: FATHER MATURI Q&A

  St. Dominic's Neighborhood

Father Gregory Maturi, pastor of St.Dominic's Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH, has plans to revitalize the neighborhood where two of his parishioners have been murdered this year.

Father Gregory Maturi, pastor of St.Dominic's Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH, has plans to revitalize the neighborhood where two of his parishioners have been murdered this year.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A man in a sport utility vehicle waved down the Rev. Gregory Maturi as he walked along Lucius Avenue. The car stopped in the middle of the street, and Maturi approached the driver’s side window, which had been lowered.

“You’re doing a good job, Father,” said Jose Nall.

The two men chatted for a few minutes, exchanging handshakes and phone numbers, before Nall pulled away, calling out “I’ll pray for you.”

This has become an everyday occurrence for Father Maturi, who walks the neighborhoods surrounding his parish, St. Dominic Church.

He has been leading efforts to combat violence in the city. Two members of his congregation, Angeline Fimognari and Thomas Repchic, were murdered this year.

“This is a war zone and it’s an emergency situation. This is gangland,” the priest said.

In response to the violence and Father Maturi’s suggestions, Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams has pledged that 27 vacant houses on Lucius and Auburndale avenues and Southern Boulevard, near the church, will be demolished by year’s end in what he calls “Operation Redemption.”

Some South Side residents are not impressed.

“I think it shows the unconcern. I think it shows willy-nillyness,” said Ken Stanislaw, who lives on the southeast part of the city. “I expected more of [Williams]. It comes to push and shove; two people have to be killed before he starts tearing down houses. Where was the plan?”

Williams said that Operation Redemption is not a start, but a continuation of the city’s overall plan to tear down vacant houses that are often havens for criminals.

“We’ve torn down approximately 2,000 homes and tried to do it in a focused and strategical method,” Williams said. “This is just a continuation, and an additional focus, of a longstanding commitment to strengthening neighborhoods in every ward. This happens to come into sharper focus because of the unfortunate violence around the folks at St. Dominic’s.”

The mayor said on average it costs $2,500 to $3,000 to demolish a vacant home, but depending on the property, it could go up to $7,000.

Delores Womack, who has lived on Boston Avenue for 17 years, said 27 houses “won’t make a difference” because half of the houses in her precinct in the 6th Ward are empty.

“This is years of neglect,” she said. “I’d like to see the city green up our area, not just demolish, but landscape them so we as residents can keep them cut.”

Williams said that contractors are required to grade and seed the lot as part of the house demolition.

“A vacant lot is not ideal, but it’s better than a dilapidated house,” he said. “What I’m most pleased and excited about is the work done in conjunction with block watches and neighborhood associations.”

Williams and Father Maturi both admit that tearing down 25 houses in that neighborhood is just a start.

“Operation Redemption is two-fold. There’s the demolition and improving the aesthetics, and then the heavy, aggressive law- enforcement side of it. The specifics of that will be announced in a week or two,” he said.

He also said that Operation Redemption on the South Side will be used to target all parts of the city, so that no residents are excluded.

As for Father Maturi, he will be in Youngstown for a total of six years and then given another assignment, which is a regular part of being a Dominican priest.

“I’m here for five more years, and I want to do all the good I can in that short time,” he said.

“I’m aware of my surroundings and realize the more public I am, the more of a target I become. I do what I do, and let the pieces fall where they may.”


Comments

1Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

“This is a war zone and it’s an emergency situation. This is gangland,” the priest said."

So why can't the so called leaders of the city just come out and say this instead of just ignoring it. Say it like it really is and do something about it!

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2Billybob21(96 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

This is not just a youngstown problem. The crime and drugs are starting to spill in to the surrounding cities. Crime is spilling into campbell and the police just turn there backs to it like its not even a problem. Can't even get the police to patrol your streets :(

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Why hasn't Mayor Jay asked Ted Strickland for the National Guard to be brought into Ytown. We need more policing actions on the the siouthside right now. More then the YPD can deliver.

They could go abandoned house to house and close them up until they can be torn down. Put up warning signs that say anyone removing the plywood panel to get into an abandoned house will be shot just like the black gangstas are doing to the older citizens on the southside who are in their cars. This is a war zone and yes some may have to die to win it - make it the black gangstas, not the honest citizens who are trying to attend mass safely.

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4WarrenRicheyKid(167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The police need to walk police beats. They need to get out of their patrol cars and project a visible presence on the streets. Officers whizzing through neighborhoods in police vehicles do little to prevent crime. A pair of cops getting to know the inside and out side of a neighborhood on a foot beat will address trouble before it begins. They'll know who the good citizens are and who the riffraff is.

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5steelwagon(284 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Warren here.
Put cops out walking a beat so they can get to know the decent people of the neighborhoods.
Cops flying by in patrol cars do little or nothing to deter crime and violence.

Up the charges for anyone caught breaking into or caught inside a boarded up home to a serious felony charge.
But mostly get to the heart of the problem early.

Hold the parents accountable from day one.
These kids don't just wake up at age 18-20 and decide to be gangsters.
It all starts when these kids are young commiting petty crime,cutting classes and being out in the streets well past curfew.

Haul the parents in everytime their kid is caught.
Make passing a hair folical drug screen mandatory to collect public benefits such as welfare and section 8 housing.

Hey if you and I have to pass a drug screen to work and pay taxes so there's money to provide welfare it's only fair that those who benefit from our labor do the same.

Round up the dead beat mothers and fathers.
If they have jobs garnish their wages to make them support their children.
If they are unemployed put them to work cleaning the streets,cleaning up vacant lots ect.....
There's no shortage of work to be done in these neighborhoods.
Stop the free rides altogether.

Sorry but I find the so called "less fortunate" to be that way by choice.
The more society does for them the less they do to help themselves.
I can't tell you how many times I'v heard a welfare rat say "Welfare don't pay me enough"

Sadly that attitude is passed on to their kids and you have 3rd and 4th generation welfare families who feel the're owed by society.

Seems simple to me.
When you work for something you take care of it.
When you have to get up in the morning to go to work you can't be out in the streets all night commiting crime.

An end to the free rides will end alot of crime and violence.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

"Where was the plan?”

The plan has been to stress tolerance and allow the gangbangers to do their thing . Until operation clean sweep hits the SouthSide nothing is going to change .

HERE IS THE PLAN !

http://i33.tinypic.com/2m6vdhz.jpg

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7Photoman(1000 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

These gangs appear to consist mainly of local thugs. The heavy drug usage in this area will, however, attract the real gangs coming up from the Mexican border. These folks will make the local thugs look like kindergartners. Since politicians of both parties care so little about closing our border, expect a worsening of our situation in Youngstown.

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8kensgirl(590 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Steelwagon has it right. Most of these people choose their lifestyle. My dad grew up during the depression and didn't have free handouts and healthcare. He went on to become president of a steel company. And oh yes-his dad died when he was 13 years old and his mom didn't speak English. So there all you "Poor me" thugs. Stop making excuses and get off your butts. You just make it harder on the rest of us.

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Photoman :

"These gangs appear to consist mainly of local thugs."

Youngstown druglords are connected to Detroit and New York City . Mexicans are bringing heroin into the city from the border . We have already attracted the REAL GANGSTAS . Drug distribution is big business in The Valley .

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10northsideart(111 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The real terrorists live right here in America, and they are NOT Muslim.

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11TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

good point northside. it's about time some of that money flowed into our communities

"Put cops out walking a beat so they can get to know the decent people of the neighborhoods.
Cops flying by in patrol cars do little or nothing to deter crime and violence."
This is a great idea, but who pays for it? How big is the beat? When people inevitably decry the poor response time, what happens next?

Also, it's not the mayor's fault that two innocent people were killed, just as it isn't the fault of the victims and the priest at St. Dom's. It's the fault of the people who committed the crime. period.

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12oldsouthhighwarrior(23 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

to all who say they choose their lifestyle. this was so true back in the 60's. one day in class a teacher ask a 2 time all city football player of all the college offers you have what, has your choice been made. to which he said, college i aint going to no more school i'm going on relief.thats what they called welfare back then. sure enough i saw him while driving down hillman at the corner warren drinking beer with some other people i went to school with.always wonder how good he would have been. they did good back in the 30's with the welfare but some people were addictive and knew the more kids i have the more wealth comes my way.its not just black issue there plenty of whites taking the same path. and now the liberals are adding the south of the boder to get their votes. i see this more and more on a daily visit to a store using there welfare cards and i live in upper florida.the mexicans are taking the drug trade here.i hope my neighbourhood wont get like my old one. i grew up on the corner of boston and hillman.

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13NotAnotherUsername2Remember(2 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure I understand why the shape of the neighborhood is the responsibility of anyone except the people who live there. Why are people blaming the mayor or other politicians for the state of the neighborhood instead of looking around at the people who contributed to its state. - It kind of seems like a typical case of poor me, victim, nothing is ever my fault, lets depend on the gov't for everything.

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14proudfather(1 comment)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Its funny how a good many of these comments suggest changing police practice will fix the problem. If you want to fix the problem here is what you do. Fund the police department rather then cutting pay every chance you get(i.e. both Campbell and Boardman's starting police pay is below $33000 a year. With that pay, good luck drawing good hard charging cops to your communities...My buddy, a cop in Portsmouth VA has wanted to come back for years bringing 7 years of SWAT experience, a medal of honor, two medal of valors and two officer of the year awards but could never afford to support his family here on the offered par,) and threatening to lay off civil servants every time there is a budget problem. After that start getting more involved with the community, like the good father in this article. Nothing will happen until the citizens decide to retake the city and act.

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15briant(57 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Rock on Father! Everyone should appluad and PRAY for his efforts...I have been saying for years it will take a miracle to get Y-Town back....A Priest leading the charge is a great start....

If anyone knows of a donation fund St. Dom's has set up for security, neighborhood watches, etc...PLEASE POST IT so we out of twoners can help our homeland..

OR

Let a few selects out of jail and bring back the mob...at least the crime wasn't as "bad" back then..

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16Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

notanother

"Why are people blaming the mayor or other politicians for the state of the neighborhood instead of looking around at the people who contributed to its state. - It kind of seems like a typical case of poor me, victim, nothing is ever my fault, lets depend on the gov't for everything."

I agree 100% about the poor me and depending on the governments money but disagree not blaming the leaders of the city. They need to get tough about the violence, not let the animals control the streets and do whatever it takes to get rid of the lowly cockroaches that roam it.

For intense, the mayor of Newark...
Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Booker, a charismatic, 41-year-old former Stanford football player, regaled the other guests around the table with stories about how he had moved into one of his crime-ridden city's most dangerous neighborhoods and rode along with police on late-night patrols.

"It's the kind of personal and real dedication that you get from real leaders," Zuckerberg recalled. "It just made me think this is a guy I want to invest in."

http://www.wmctv.com/story/13210022/f...

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Certain rules and regulations are in place when dealing with criminals . They have their rights . Circumvent those rights and you will lose in a big way . It is the responsibilty of the city to control criminals . The residents can only observe and report . If the city fails to respond then crime is out of control .

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18Billybob21(96 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Steelwagon that is a very good plan I wish it would be done. And proudfather i agree with you. But the people don't want police to get raises till they start seeing them lower crime once crime starts to lower then give them all the money they want.

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19Cassie(88 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Please, Father, be careful. My prayers are with you. Try to start some constructive activities like gardens on the vacant lots and get the other clergy to work with you. I will pray that some of the gangbangers will get tired of their ugly lives and help you--I believe it can happen.

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20Traveler(606 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

If the pastors plan doesn't include arm his church members with guns and bullet proof vest he just going to get more people killed

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21briant(57 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Traveler

I agree with you...all kidding aside, it is a brave, dangerous position to put himself in....We all need to PRAY and if you live close try to have his back.

We feel helpless living 1200 miles away. I went to Church and school at St. Dom's. Those were our streets. God in Heaven PLEASE HELP.

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22northlimadawg(7 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

there were 2 people shot tonight at the corner of Southern and E. Lucius (intersection next to St. Doms) about 3 hours ago. Heard nothing else on the scanner about the victims condition. Police were trying to set up a perimeter around where they thought the shooter was.

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23TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

That little corner is one of the most dangerous in Ytown sadly.

I wonder how many parishoners live near the church. I suppose that could be asked about a lot of south side churches.

"Probably at least 70% of these black men sentenced to long term prison sentences will find/convert to Islam during their stay. Enough of them will do so as a matter of identity and survival. Islam is booming there."
Thanks for just making up facts censoredship. I'll try it. Probably 95% of the stuff you post here is garbage.

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24navygirl(14 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I say bring in the Navy builders, the Seabee's, and let them tear down the houses and make the empty lots look nice. The Navy is downsizing so why not keep some of these guys and send them all over the country to help out.

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25disgustedjoker(46 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Its only a matter of time before these thugs pick him off too!
Where's the leaders of their churches in this? They know these thugs! They should be walking the streets right along with this innocent priest!

Oh Wait!!! Rev Simon is too worried about who will be the next JFS Director to worry about this nonsense! Come on, how about all the religious leader band together and show some unity. Get your priorities straight...

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26wineywoman(78 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Steelwagon has a plan that will work! Steelwagon for Mayor!!!

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27TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

nice use of statistics censoredship...however, none of them support your supposition

"Probably at least 70% of these black men sentenced to long term prison sentences will find/convert to Islam during their stay"

I believe you are misreading the bit about 80%.
"He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who "find faith" while in prison convert to Islam"

In your statement, you claim that 70% of all black men will turn to Islam. The statistics you use to support your claim only takes into account prisoners finding faith, and we have no number to describe that sample or the larger population that sample is taken from. It is only defined as those finding faith. Your supposition is that 70% of all black men will find faith and become Muslim, which is not supported by your own statistics.

Try again sunshine!

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28USMC0331(150 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Why are we blaming the politicians here? Are you kidding me? Because they are in control of the spending and more importantly the CUTTING!! I agree that we need to put police walking these neighborhoods, but you have to have the man power to do so!!! And as far as the police flying through the neighborhoods in their patrol cars that's them going from call to call to call. Everyone loves to give their two cents on police officers. I saw this one sitting in a gas station hitting on the clerk. Or I saw one sitting in a parking lot doing nothing. Don't speak on things you know nothing about! You have absolutely no clue what that officer just got done doing what kinda call they were just on or what is going on in their personal life. That's right cops are human and have families just like the rest of us! Amazing I know! They really aren't robots!! So next time you wanna be quick to judge a police officer think twice. Because if they came to a call for service (that's right it's their job to SERVE the community) to your home and were quick to judge you, you might not like the outcome.

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29TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

oooooh cmon censoredship. where u at now?

who is the moron now? come on smart guy!

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30tiredofit(2 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I have lived in on the South Side of Youngstown near where all this violence has taken place for almost 25 years. Since the time I was born, up until now. I have never felt unsafe in my home until one day during the past summer when I came home to find a bullet had gone threw my bedroom wall, during a shooting that was never reported on the news. Of course I was scared, but I decided to stay.

When I was about 8 years old, the first two black families moved into my neighborhood. They were nice, hardworking people. But most of the whites freaked out and left anyway. And, here we are. The perfect place for criminals who are just getting started.

I don't want to be like those whites who immeditely freaked out and left. I want to show these thugs they can't scare the good people away, the people who are willing to stand up and report crime.

The police can't handle all this crime themselves. It's not possible. It is up to us as citizens to practice our 2nd ammendment rights and defend what is rightfully ours. The thugs pray on the elderly for a reason, they are easy targets. Help your elderly neighbors out by doing their grocery shopping or keeping an eye and ear out for suspicious activites around their home.

Report crime if you think you see it. Practice your second ammendment rights. Watch your neighbor's place when they are at work or on vacation. Get a dog and some security lights. Show these people they can't scare hardworking, law abiding citizens away.

And Boardman, Canfield and surrounding areas: These criminals are moving up and into YOUR neighborhoods.This is not just a Youngstown problem anymore. Get ready, cause here they come.

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31TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

awww your assumption is that all those folks turn to God. That's a false use of statistics and again, you admit to guessing.

so, while you say:
"Forgive my slopiness when I posted the earlier. However, it doesn't negate the facts and the looming problems."

you don't say
"Forgive me for calling you a moron."

You just got spanked sweetie. You just got clowned and shown to be a liar with your deliberate misuse of statistics to support your point.

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32TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

2 days and I know you've logged in since your last post.

What's the matter? You can't handle someone proving you wrong? You can't admit it?

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33TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

awwww an apology is too much to ask for someone who can't admit to being wrong

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