Pastor’s Column for July 15, 2018

We took out the 2nd pew on each side of the church so that there is more seating available in these handicapped sec- tions. There are now two rows for the handicapped, and they are easily identified by the green cushions. We put the two pews we removed in the vestibule of the church so that there is more seating for when we have Donut Sunday, etc. No charge.
I would like to welcome our new Athletic Director, Rey Caraballo. Many of our school parents would know him as he was our Site Director this past CYO season & was also our score keeper for several seasons. He is a graduate of our parish school and has accepted the offer to be our new Athletic Director. Rey will be taking over the day to day operations for all CYO related sports and events.
In extending a welcome to Rey, I also want to express my sincere thanks to Matt Tullos who has been our Athletic Director during the last 4 years. Matt began working as Athletic Director shortly after I arrived here at St. Leo’s and has done an excellent job, not only in coordinating, fund- raising, planning & supervising the whole athletic program, but by opening it up to more people & more activity. As a result of his efforts, more & more people have asked about our parish school as they enter our gym building connected to it, and Matt has always given great reports to them of how much our parish school has helped his children (the oldest of which, also named Matt, is now a student at Ignatius High School and has been one of our best & faithful altar servers). So Matt has really helped expand our presence and image in the community and by so doing has helped increase our school enrollment. Matt will continue to work with Rey as his assistant so that the transition will be a smooth one. Thanks again to him and a warm welcome to Rey.
The company which has put a new roof on our rectory in the past will be installing a new roof on the two levels of our Parish Center (the old convent) as it has been leaking into the Conference Room and into the Preschool area on the 2nd floor. They will also be putting a new roof on our bell tower which has caused leaking in the sanctuary area (to the right of the priest’s chair) for several years and has created a large hole in the ceiling, which will be repaired as soon as the new roof is installed. We also need repair work done on the roof of the school/gym buildings and will most likely also have a new roof installed on the church this summer as well. We cannot fix the cracked archways of the church until we have corrected the problem that caused the cracks in the first place. The cost of all these repairs will be over $150,000 so thank you for your donations to the capital improvement fund.

Pastor's Column for July 8, 2018

I’d like to tell you more about the history of the parish since we’re celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Parish this year. But first I want to let you know that Bishop Perez will be here on Saturday, September 1st, to celebrate the 4pm Mass. This will be his first visit to St. Leo the Great & we will use it as an opportunity to give thanks to God for the blessings of these past 70 years. You will have a chance to meet the Bishop personally in Lux Hall after the Mass where we will have some refreshments available to you. We look forward to meeting the Bishop in person and welcoming him here to St. Leo the Great Church.

Back to our parish’s beginnings. I had already written about how the First Mass of the Parish was celebrated in the Auditorium of Ben Franklin School on Sunday, October 17, 1948, and how a bulletin announcement from Our Lady of Good Counsel (currently Mary Queen of Peace) announced the start of this new parish to be called St. Leo the Great. At the time, Our Lady of Good Counsel had their first Sunday Mass at 6:00 a.m. so Father Lux, the first Pastor, decided to have Mass at 5:30 a.m. in order to entice those who liked an early Mass!

The home of parishioner Bill Heminger was used for holy day Masses. It is a white house on the east side of Broadview (currently owned by another parishioner) which later was used as the first rectory and then the first convent. It had a little porch that Fr. Lux had extended for daily Mass. I spoke to Sr. Joseph Marie who is currently the head of Mount Alverna (where Fr. Vesely lives) as she was one of the first nuns who lived and taught here at St. Leo’s. She told me that the nuns lived in this white house on Broadview be- fore moving into the convent built in the mid 1960’s (now our Parish Community Center). Sister said that more than 10 nuns lived in that house on Broadview Road! Hard to believe that more than 5 people could live in there comfortably, but the Sisters did what they had to do.

In 1949, the men of the parish began building the first church on parish property right where the current entrance is off of Broadview Rd. It was a temporary church but at least on parish property. It took just a few weeks to build. The lights bulbs were exposed and it had hard kneelers but it would do for Sunday Mass. There is a large picture of some parishioners building this first church in the vestibule, hang- ing over the display case (which has a number of pictures from the first years of the parish...if you haven’t checked it out yet be sure to do so!).

One more thing to note: John Sabol, a long-time active parishioner who is one of our cantors and our parish archivist & historian, will be giving a presentation on the history of the parish, planned for October 18th. More information to come as we get closer to that date.

Pastor's Column for July 1, 2018

As we celebrate our July 4th holiday this week, I invite you to begin the day by joining us for 9am Mass as we give thanks for the great blessing of belonging to this country. This is also an important time for us to pray that God may restore unity to us despite our great diversity. There is no doubt that our country is experiencing a time of great division these days. Regardless of our political affiliation or views, we all need to learn how to engage each other respectfully in conversation. Pope Saint John XXIII, when opened the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960’s, also sensed a great difference of opinion regarding those who took a more liberal or conservative view of the Church. He wrote, “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” Good words for us to heed even today.

A note regarding the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick: it is a good thing for family members to call when a loved one is seriously ill, requesting that they be anointed. Many hospitals and hospice centers also have a Catholic priest as Chaplain but if they are not available, do not hesi- tate to call us. However the Church would like to accompany such a person at the beginning of their illness instead of anointing them “at the 11th hour” or shortly before they are expected to pass. So I would encourage you to notify us early on when a loved one has become seriously ill so that we may not only anoint them but be present and available to them throughout the course of their illness to offer support, even if their illness is not terminal. When we are called just hours before someone has “made a turn for the worst”, it may not be possible to anoint them if I am away from the parish or some situation keeps me from being able to be present to them immediately. So please do not hesitate to call long before someone reaches that stage. We also have now a Deacon and his wife, besides myself, who are able and willing to visit and bring Holy Communion to those who are in a Hospice situation especially. We want to do whatever we can to minister to those who need us at such a difficult time.

Beginning this weekend we will return to the practice of processing toward the altar from the back of the church instead of from the sacristy door. So you’ll hear the bells ring behind you instead of in front of you to signal the beginning of Mass. We will use the “cry room” to prepare for Mass but parents with small children are still welcome to use that space. That room is also used as the “bride’s room” before weddings so it has many purposes. I can also make faces at you from there without you knowing it.

Pastor's Column for June 24, 2018

Bob Terry had been in a wheelchair for the past 3 years but is now free to walk with the Lord. We celebrated his life & funeral Mass last Saturday and extend our sympathies to Shelley Aigner and to his two living children. He was always smiling when Shelley brought him to Mass & I am glad he was able to pray with us even though his prayer was from his heart. May he and all the faithful departed rest in God’s peace.

Pope Francis has chosen 14 men to be the newest cardi- nals in the Church and will elevate them this Friday, June 29th, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. One of them is his chief aide in helping the homeless and poor in the city of Rome. He has also named prelates who are in Iraq & Paki- stan where Christians are a minority. You’re probably wondering when I will “receive the red hat” as we say (the Pope gives the new cardinals a red “biretta” or hat that they wear for certain occasions). I have a black biretta but I’m not counting on it ever turning red. While I like to visit Rome (as I will be in October with some parishioners), I don’t really want to work there. Daily pasta would be great but I’d have to buy a lot of new clothes. Speaking of Pope Francis, when we had our last school Mass, I asked the children if they knew what well-known person was about to be married (Prince Harry). One of them answered with great enthusiasm: “Pope Francis!” Now that would have been a wedding people would have tuned in to watch!

I’ve been a bit negligent sharing some of our parish’s history with you as I’ve promised as we celebrate our 70th anniversary. So here’s a bit of history from our beginning: The first Mass of the parish was celebrated at the Ben Franklin Auditorium on Sunday, October 17, 1948. There was a simple announcement in the bulletin of Our Lady of Good Counsel that spoke of the birth of St. Leo’s and gave the parish boundaries. The Diocese had already bought land from Alvin to Portman on the other side of Broadview, close to Schaff Road. It was all empty & full of weeds. But Fr. Lux didn’t think it was a suitable place & so he spotted the land where the church currently sits but said that it was a swamp. And the woman who owned the land would never sell to a Catholic! But Fr. Lux had connections & he had someone else buy the land from her! He bought the land right up to the railroad tracks (on the other side of 480 now), knowing that a highway would be going through (he later sold the land to the State so they could build 480 & that helped pay for the church). Our first Pastor was a shrewd and clever businessman as well as a prayerful priest.

Pastor's Column for June 17, 2018

We welcome Raelynn Hope Molloy who entered into the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism last Sunday, and Amelia Mendez who is being baptized this Sunday. May they grow in the knowledge of God’s love.

I wanted to let you know that as of May 31st, the Catholic Charities Appeal raised $11,102,800.00 from 41,362 donors in the Diocese of Cleveland. Here at St. Leo’s, $60,937.00 was pledged by our own parishioners which is 98.5% of the goal given us. Thank you so much for coming to the aid of so many in need.

I was so saddened by the news that the predominately Catholic country of Ireland recently voted in favor of legalized abortion. I know that unwanted pregnancies can be so difficult for people who are not prepared or able to care for a child but there are also options available (like adoption) which can and should be seriously and prayerfully considered. We must pray that people be open to the grace of God who alone can change minds and hearts. I am proud of the fact that here at St. Leo’s, we help those who need prenatal & maternal care through places like Providence House, Maggie’s Place, & Womankind which we donate to during Advent & Lent. Thank you for recognizing the dignity of all God’s children.

One night last week I was awoken by some ruckus and Abby’s screams in my living room. Abby nose to nose with a raccoon (though gratefully there was a glass window between them). The raccoon climbed on the roof of the garage which is right outside my living room window. I was surprised that the sight of Abby did not scare it away though I was not surprised that Abby was not at all intimidated by the raccoon (as Michaela & I were!). Gratefully it went away & I haven’t seen it since though we did have a company out called “Catch a Critter” who reminded me that raccoons carry rabies & that I should be careful of getting near one. Did he really think I had to be warned about that? I was also made aware that a coyote has been seen in the area as well and while they look an awful lot like dogs, they aren’t quite as tame as Ms. Michaela so I will keep my distance from them as well. We have also spotted skunks on the property. I admit I am prejudiced against certain critters even though God made them all. But some are meant to be looked at from a distance.

My dad and his wife just celebrated 12 years of marriage last Sunday and both are doing quite well. As I wish my dad a Happy Father’s Day, I also extend the same to all the men of the parish who live or act as a father to others, including Father Vesely, who was so happy to be here a couple weeks ago. We look forward to his visit again next month. We also remember our deceased fathers and grandpa’s and ask God to show them his loving kindness.

Pastor's Column for June 10, 2018

Congratulations to the parents of Joshua Kindry who was baptized here on May 27th. Ray & Jan Norris are our parishioners and are Joshua’s grandparents. We give thanks for the gift of children and the gift of faith.

This weekend we celebrated a Memorial Mass for Raymond Smith who passed away peacefully at the Malachi Hospice Center the day after I gave him the last rites. He had been receiving Holy Communion at home by one of our Eucharistic Ministers. May he be free now from the cross of illness and know the peace of Christ.

We also extend our sympathies to Tara Kenaga on the death of her mother Dianne Holland whose funeral Mass was held at Sacred Heart Church in Fremont, Ohio. May Dianne and all the faithful departed Rest In Peace.

Deacon Pat Berigan will be introducing himself at the 4pm and 8am Masses this weekend as he did at the 11am Mass 3 weeks ago. Again we are happy to have him and his wife Joan join us on the Pastoral Staff here at St. Leo’s. Please keep them in your prayers that they may minister well.

I received word from the nephew of Irene Venesky that she has moved out of the parish in order to enter assisted living in Macedonia. Irene is a gentle woman with a smile that makes you feel so comfortable in her presence. We wish her well in her new home and will stay in touch with her. She turned 90 earlier this year. If you would like her address and or phone number, please call the rectory office. I’m sure she would be so happy to hear from you.

I want to express my gratitude to all of our altar servers who are so helpful to the priests who celebrate Mass here at St. Leo’s and who are so faithful to this ministry. I am especially mindful of 2 servers who have been serving since they were in the 5th grade in our Parish School and who have just graduated from high school. Alyssa Lizzini first served Mass on Easter Day. She attended Padua High School and has been involved in basketball, drama, and as the secretary for the National Honor Society. She will be attending the Cleveland Institute of Art on a scholarship to become an illustrator.

Patrick Criscuolo attended St. Ignatius and has participat- ed in the Labre Homeless Ministry (sharing food & friendship with Cleveland’s homeless) and in the Arimathea Pallbearer Ministry (where the students act as pallbearers at funerals when the family cannot provide any). Patrick went on a mission to Louisville, Kentucky and was on the crew team at St. Ignatius. He has held a seasonal job at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo & joined scouting as a Tiger Cub in first grade. He earned his Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts of America in 2017. He will be attending Canisius College and plans to major in biology leading to a career in the medi- cal profession. God has blessed them both with many gifts! We are proud of them and grateful for their service to us over the years.

Pastor's Column for June 3, 2018

I will not be with you this weekend. Our family has this tradition of going to Vegas when a niece or nephew turns 21 and so there was a trip planned for this past week. My sister in Florida asked me if I wanted to go to Vegas with them or to dog sit for her in Florida. I’ve been to Vegas enough times to know the odds...that you’ll come back with less money than you brought there, so I chose dog sitting. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make so that my family can enjoy their trip out west. I’ll put up with the heat, the loneliness of being in the pool by myself, and the boring days of doing nothing but eat- ing and reading a good book.

We are extremely grateful for a very generous donation given to us by a parishioner named Georgianne Mroczka. Sadly Georgianne passed away back in November and her funeral Mass was celebrated here at St. Leo’s. Georgianne’s generous donation has enabled us to welcome three new people to our staff, (Deacon Pat & Joan Berigan and Nathan Noga) and they will have a direct impact on the lives of the parishioners through their ministry here. I think Georgianne would be happy about that. Here are just some of the words that her sister Christine Woodland used to describe her: “The most important part of her life would be to spend time with family and friends. She would drive great distances alone to be with family for special occasions or just to be there for you. She went to great lengths to keep a very detailed family history that she updated and shared on a regular basis. She was the organizer of monthly luncheons with the people that she had worked with in the past. She always had a positive attitude and was very generous. She would listen wholeheartedly to her family and friends and would be there to support them in any way she could. She was never judgmental. She looked for the best in people and would take their problems and stories to heart. She would write notes and letters to nieces and nephews to encourage them in their goals and take the time to listen and encourage them to go on. She was quick to remind you of your good qualities and character. She was always interested in whatever you were doing. She would keep you up to the wee hours of the morning just talking. There were so many times when talking and remembering old times would have you laugh so hard you would have happy tears running down your face. And that was probably one of my best memories of her....... laugh until you cry those happy tears.” May God reward her for her generosity to us and for her great love of others.

Our sympathies to Tom Richlovsky on the death of his father, Simon, who was 97 years old, and was buried in his parish of St. Charles in Parma. God’s peace be with him

Pastor's Column for May 27, 2018

Terry Wamser, whose funeral Mass was celebrated here last Saturday, was the father of Terry, Tammy & Tracey and the grandfather of 5. He has one surviving sister named Eileen and three deceased brothers. Terry is remembered for being quite a jokester who always spoke his mind. We extend our sympathies to his family.

We welcomed Alexis Madej into our Catholic family through the Sacrament of Baptism last Sunday and this Sunday we will be baptizing Amelia Mendez & Joshua Kindry. We joyfully celebrate their entrance into the Church.

At the 8am Mass this Sunday, I will receive Susan Rausch, baptized in another denomination, into the Catholic Church as she makes her Profession of Faith. She will also receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Next Saturday Deacon Pat will celebrate her marriage to Chip Meitin so we congratulate them and pray they may have many happy years together.

This Monday during our Memorial Day Mass at 9am, the collection taken up will be for the ministry of our St. Vincent de Paul Society which continues to do good work in helping those in need in our parish and neighborhood. We pray for them as we remember on this special day all those who have given their life in the service of our country. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others.”

Last weekend during the petitions we prayed for Fr. Neil Crosby who passed away. Fr. Crosby was a Parochial Vicar (formerly known as an “Associate Pastor”) here at St. Leo’s in the late 1980s & early 1990’s. May he receive the reward of a good and faithful servant.

We plan to have Fr. Vesely celebrate the 4pm Mass next Saturday, June 2nd. I’m sure you will be happy to see him as he will be to see you.

As our parish school children had their last day of school this past Wednesday, we said goodbye to them as they enjoy the summer months. I continue to be very grateful for the great work of our Principal, Mrs. Denise Burns & of the en- tire faculty and staff. What gifted people they are!

Last Sunday Deacon Pat introduced himself and his wife Joan during the 11am Mass. He will do the same at the 4pm & 8am Masses the weekend of June 9th & 10th. As we welcome them and their ministry at St. Leo’s, I also want to welcome Nathan Noga who comes with their recommendation. Nathan will be our Parish Life Coordinator which means he will have a hand in many of the ministries and activities of our parish. Though he will be working part-time, you will have the chance to meet him at various parish events. I am happy to have these three gifted people join me in the Pastoral Care of the Parish and ask that you pray for us that we may serve you well. Michaela continues to remain second in charge and is responsible for the protection of all who work in our rectory office. She has proved her competence over the years.

Pastor's Column for May 20, 2018

We welcome and congratulate the 8th grade students of our Parish School who will be graduating after the 4pm Mass this weekend. They frequently attended the 8:30am Mass on Fridays and I would spend a few minutes with them after those Masses to answer questions they had or to discuss something I thought was important. I enjoyed this time with them and will miss seeing them walking our halls. We’re happy that 19 out of the 21 students will be going on to a Catholic High School, and proud of that commitment to a religious atmosphere following their time at St. Leo’s. May God bless each one of these graduates as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

We’re also very pleased that our enrollment is increasing again for next year. I’ll let you know the final numbers as they are more firm in the summer months but I’m very grateful to our teachers and staff in the school who have had a wonderful year under the leadership of our new Principal, Mrs. Denise Burns. This Wednesday is the last day of school and so the halls will be empty again for a few months but not for long. We are very blessed to have a Parish School (and Preschool) which are doing so well. These are an important part of our history but also of our present and future as well.

Today we welcome the Knights of Columbus who will be present at the 11am Mass. And joining us will be their chaplain, Deacon Pat Berigan. I’m very happy to let you know that Deacon Pat and his wife Joan have joined our parish (along with Joan’s mother) and have offered to minister here. Deacon Pat has just retired from his place of employ- ment and from his diaconal ministry but like retired priests, can still choose to exercise their ministry with a parish and pastor of their choosing. We are thrilled that they have chosen us and I look forward to them working with me as we form a Pastoral Staff here at St. Leo’s. They both have many years of formation and experience in ministry and so their gifts will be very welcomed here. I’ll let Deacon Pat intro- duce himself to you at the 11am Mass this weekend (and at the 4pm & 8am Masses the weekend of June 9th & 10th). It is perfect timing for him to be with us today as he is celebrating his 30th Anniversary of Ordination this Sunday. So please be sure to congratulate him and welcome him and his wife as warmly as you welcomed me. On this Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit which was given when the Church first began. May that Spirit help each of us to use the gifts we are given for the building up of our faith, our parish and our world.

Pastor's Column for May 13, 2018

Next Saturday, May 19th, our 8th grade students will be processing into the church at the 4pm Mass as they graduate from our parish school. They will receive their diplomas after Mass has ended so we will wait for everyone to leave the church before we begin that brief ceremony. We are always sad to see our students move on but are grateful for the opportunity to have given them a great education in the atmosphere of faith. May God guide their journey through high school.

We welcome Joshua Kindry into our Catholic Faith through the Holy Sacrament of Baptism this Sunday. May God bless those who have taken upon themselves the respon- sibility of “training him in the practice of the faith.”

Please bare with me as I call upon your generosity this weekend for two very worthy causes. The Knights of Columbus have asked my permission to ask for donations at the doors of the church after Mass for their annual “Measure Up” campaign which donates money for mentally challenged adults and children organizations. Please consider offering them something for this good purpose.

This weekend we will also have our Catholic Charities Follow-up Appeal. You may remember that in the last couple of years, this follow-up appeal was made for the sake of those who may not have been present during the first appeal back in February. However it has taken a new direction so that this particular appeal is made on behalf of a specific need in the Catholic Charities organization. This year, all funds raised this weekend will be used to expand addiction treatment services across our diocese. The news is filled with stories of increasing opioid addiction (and deaths) and so the need for such treatment services has never been higher. I ask you to please consider making some kind of donation to this, especially if you did not already make a pledge to Catholic Charities earlier. Thank you in advance for reaching out to help those who are addicted. “Whatsoever you do...”

We moved Fr. Vesely into his apartment at Mount Alverna this past Wednesday. This assisted living wing will be different from what he’s had in skilled nursing as he will have his own space with more privacy, and will eat with fellow residents in a beautiful dining room which provides a menu of options for each meal. Though he is no longer in residence here at St. Leo’s, he will always be considered an important part of our parish community. We have plans for him to celebrate Mass here soon.

Finally, at each Mass I will ask God’s blessing on all the women of our parish who act as mother, grandmother or god- mother. Though we take our mothers seriously, we can also smile as we think of them. Maybe this will help: Mom No. 1: How do you get your sleepy-head son up in the morning? Mom No. 2: I just put the cat on the bed. Mom No. 1: How does that help? Mom No. 2: The dog’s already there.