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.

Pastor's Column for May 6, 2018

Michele Lombardo is a parishioner who lectors (proclaims the Scripture readings) at weekend Mass & does so very well. Sadly we had a funeral Mass for her husband Joey last Saturday. Michele and Joe have two daughters, Kelly and Jamie, and we extend our sympathies to them as well as to Michele. Michele and Joey were married for 30 years and their daughters were “the apple of his eye.” May he rest with all the saints in God’s kingdom.

Last Sunday we baptized Xander Geither and Ryleigh Hartley. We welcome them into God’s family and pray for God’s blessings on them and their families. We also congratulate Tom & Chris Bauhof on their 45th Wedding Anniversary, Jerry & Linda DeBaltzo who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary as well as Joe & Joan Krakora who also celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary last weekend. And again we congratulate all of the children who will be making their First Holy Communion this Saturday (May 5th) at the 4pm Mass. We look forward to them joining us every week at the Table of the Lord. We give thanks to God for all these joyful occasions which sustain us in our faith.

It seems that Fr. Vesely will be moving into an apartment at Mount Alverna very soon as one just became open for him. We had lunch last week and his walking is very much improved! He continues to appreciate the many cards & visits he receives. Let us continue our prayers for him as he settles in and continues to be such a welcome priestly minister to the people of that community.

You may have felt a bit cool in the church last weekend as the temperatures dropped outside for the weekend and we were still waiting on a faulty computer part to be replaced. Hopefully we won’t need any more heat now until the Fall! Even Michaela is not wearing her winter coat anymore.

Some were asking about that odd looking contraption in the yard by the rectory and offices. That is a gas meter which had to be wrapped during the winter months due to freezing in the lines (which would shut off our gas supply). Now that we’re all thawed out, the wrapping has been removed and it’s not so unsightly. Hopefully we’ll see the grass get greener, the flowers start blooming and the trees grow their leaves. Then we can start to complain about the heat!

For those who attended Mass on Saturday last weekend, perhaps you saw the beautiful religious items made out of olive wood which were on display and for sale in the vestibule of the church. I mentioned on Sunday that this family from Bethlehem started a travel agency with tours to the Holy Land & so expressed my interest. I’m looking at early 2020 for that to happen. If you haven’t done so already, let me know if you’re interested & I’ll put you on the “I’m interested” list.

Pastor's Column for April 29, 2018

Last Saturday I celebrated the funeral Mass for Marie Sidor who was married to her husband John for 71 years. The two of them lived at Mount Alverna in rooms that were side by side. I first met Marie & John 2 years ago and have since anointed Marie a couple of times, as did Fr. Vesely just a few days before she died. She and John had two sons, Jack & Dr. Tim Sidor who were raised in our parish and we extend our sympathy to them and to the grandchildren. Pray not only for Marie but for her husband John as well.

Last Monday we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Pal Kis whom I anointed the previous week. I also prayed the last rites for him with two of his daughters. He was with those who loved him when he passed away at the age of 87. Pal had many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even 5 great-great grandchildren. We ask the Risen Lord to welcome him and all those who have died into his prom- ised kingdom.

We also prayed for Rickey Aldridge on that same Monday as we entrusted him to God during his funeral Mass. His brother-in-law Deacon Gerry Scopilliti preached at the Mass and offered prayers at the wake and cemetery. We extend our sympathy to Rickey’s wife Tina and to their children, Rickey and Monica. May he live forever with the Lord.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the numerous holes we have to maneuver around in the parking lot. It seems that this past winter really did a job on it. I have already met with Advanced Paving and contracted for them to repair both parking lots and patch some of the smaller holes but the work cannot be done until the beginning of summer so please drive slowly and carefully and thank you again for your contributions to the Capital Improvements envelope which helps us to pay for these expensive annual repairs.

I also want to thank those who take advantage of their employer’s matching contribution program. It doubles what they are able to contribute and is a big help to us. Does your employer offer something like this? Why not inquire & see if you can take advantage of this if offered at your place of em- ployment?

Next Saturday, May 5th, the second grade students of our parish will be receiving their First Holy Communion at the 4pm Mass. This will be the third sacrament they will have received and we are so happy to celebrate this special occasion with them. It means that they can now join us at the Table of the Lord. Pray that they may receive this great gift weekly, following the example of their parents.

Pastor's Column for April 22, 2018

Last Friday, April 13th, we had 2 funerals of longtime parishioners. Daniel Sholtis has been here since the days of Fr. Lux, our first pastor. Daniel took very good care of his wife Margaret who has since passed as well as of his son, also named Daniel, whose funeral Mass we celebrated just 3 years ago this same month. Daniel was an avid fan of Ohio State and was happiest when golfing with his grandson. May he join his wife and son in the praise of God.

We also said goodbye to Juanita Gallo who, along with her husband Joe, have also been members of the parish for many years. Joe is a faithful usher at the 8am Sunday Mass and has not been able to be with us for several months as he needed to stay home to take care of his wife in her illness. What a source of strength and comfort he was to her. Juanita and Joe also have a son, Joey, whose 2 sons Tyler & Trenton Juanita also enjoyed so much. May Juanita now find the healing of body and soul in God’s kingdom.

This Saturday we celebrate the 25th Wedding Anniversary of Pete & Advia Turlop and on Sunday, the 60th Anniversary of Ralph & Tannie Cosiano. It’s a joy to share in this special occasion with them and we wish them all many more years of happiness.

I’ve been wanting to give you an update on Fr. Vesely but wanted to wait until we met with those in charge of his care at Mount Alverna. While Father Vesely’s walking has improved quite a bit with the physical therapy he has been given, he still has swelling and occasional pain in his knee. They want him to use a walker instead of a cane for the sake of stability, but this also prevents him from driving. Though Fr. Vesely would very much like to return to St. Leo’s (as much as we would like him to return), the recommendation was that he look into the option of assisted living. They believe that an apartment will open for him soon there at Mount Alverna and we were able to see it. It’s directly across from a large room for visitors which would be very convenient as Father gets a lot of visitors from the parish! I, as well as others, would still be able to pick him up to go out to dinner and he would continue to be of great help to the residents there as something of a live-in chaplain. He has been celebrating Mass there once a week for several years and so many know him. Even during these past few weeks, he has been able to pray with and anoint people who need the ministry of a priest. It seems it would be the best option for him. While things are still to be sorted out, I ask for your continued prayers for him. He enjoys so much the cards and visits he has received, so thank you for reaching out to him. I will keep you abreast of what is happening but wanted you to know where things stand at the moment.

Pastor's Column for April 15, 2018

Our sympathies to Nancy Costanzo on the passing of her mother on Easter Day, Luz Viera, whose funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Ambrose Church. May she rest in the peace of the Risen Lord.

A friend of mine who used to be at Jennings Nursing Home let me know about a workshop that will be offered called the “Sacred Art of Living & Dying.” It will take place on April 20th & 21st at Jennings Hall (about 7 minutes away). I think it is so valuable that I’m extending an invitation for anyone to attend and the parish will take care of the cost. We already have two parishioners who are going but wanted to make it known to the rest of the community. Here is some information about it:

“This is the first of four study units providing the histori- cal and theoretical foundation for the Anamcara. Each of the study units is grounded in the contemporary health care sciences and is inspired by the great spiritual traditions and collective wisdom learned from the dying.

Participants learn about the rich cultural history and clinically sound practices for detecting and alleviating spiritual and emotional distress at the end of life. Proven results for patients include reduced anxiety, an improved quality of living and more effective pain management. Caregivers learn valuable models for addressing death anxiety as the most critical issue for the dying person.”

Sessions include:
* Death and Dying in the West
* Medieval Roots of the Modern Hospice Movement * Spirituality and Religion
* Cultural Perspectives on Death & Dying
* Diagnosing Spiritual Pain
* Responding to Spiritual Pain
* Spiritual Dimensions of Grief

Just let us know if you are interested & we will be happy to get you more information or sign you up. Nurses and social workers can receive continuing education units for it as well.

I explained a few weeks ago that the Diocese said we may no longer have an envelope which is marked “Assessments.” So if you used this envelope to make dona- tions, you can instead use the envelope called “Capital Improvements”? This envelope is now sent monthly instead of quarterly. Whether your donation was toward our monthly assessments or toward our capital improvements, it all goes into the same “bucket” so your continued generosity toward our capital improvements is very much appreciated. 

Pastor's Column for April 8, 2018

In the name of the parish community, I extend our gratitude to all those parishioners who helped in any way with the liturgies of Holy Week. Thanks to all our liturgical ministers: ushers, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers & lectors. Thanks to all who decorated the church so beautifully. Thanks to our Mass coordinators who work every week in setting up and cleaning up for our weekend Masses. Thanks especially to all those in the music ministry who worked so hard to provide us with beautiful and meaningful music all week. They work so well together and really help us lift our hearts to God in prayer. And finally thank you all for your generous Easter donations which are a tremendous help to our parish budget.

Fr. Vesely & I also thank you for the cards and edible gifts that help us to enjoy the days following Easter. You are thoughtful and kind.

Helen Lincheck’s funeral Mass took place last Tuesday. She was married for exactly 50 years (her husband John died sadly on the day they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in our church). Helen’s daughter, parishioner Jan Norris and Helen’s son John took great care of their mother during the many years she suffered from dementia and needed constant help. What love they showed their mother in the daily sacrifices they made for her. Helen was devoted to her family and to her faith. May she enjoy forever the friendship of the Risen Christ.

On Easter we passed out a little white book called a “Mass Journal.” It has some brief reflections on the left hand side of each page but just lines on a blank page on the right. We encourage you to bring it to Mass with you and to write down a word or a phrase that struck you during the Mass so that you might reflect on it later in the day or during the week. So often God speaks us not only in silence but in what we hear and see and experience but we’re not always aware of how he reaches out to us. Jot down anything that may be food for thought, whether it’s the words of a song or prayer, something in the scripture readings or homily, or just something you see that you never really noticed before. Many people in other churches have found this to be useful in helping them really pay attention to everything that is happening at Mass so that it may become more fruitful and meaningful to them. We’ll try to keep pencils in the pews throughout the Easter season and keep some on the tables in the church as well.

Our Easter celebration goes on for 50 days for the Lord’s resurrection has eternal meaning for our lives. The Risen Lord will continue to speak to us in these days. Let us listen attentively to him. 

Pastor's Column for April 1, 2018

Father Vesely and I wish all of the parishioners of St. Leo the Great a very Happy Easter, along with those who are visiting with us today. We hope that the beauty of the music, the flowers, and especially of God’s people gathered together for worship, will encourage you to keep joining us through- out the year. Every Sunday we celebrate Easter for every Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. It’s not just a miraculous event that happened many years ago. It is a promise that we too will be raised to share eternal life with God and one another. It is the permanent sign of God’s love and mercy. It is the Father’s answer to the sacrifice of Christ to the Father and of his self-giving to us. In a word, it is everything. Nothing else would matter much without that historical event and all that it means for humanity. How could we possibly celebrate that on just one Sunday a year?

Every funeral I celebrate here is also a sign of Easter for the grieving members of our parish. On March 22nd we had the funeral Mass for Wanda Leciejewski who was a member of our St. Leo’s Seniors. She celebrated her 90th birthday last August and has been driving (even to church) up to the time she suddenly took ill. Her 3 children and some other family members were present when I anointed her and when we prayed the Last Rites for her in the hospital. She left this world surrounded by her loved ones. May she now be surrounded by the saints whose intercession we called upon in the hours before her death.

Anna Tulenew also lead a very full and useful life. Her funeral Mass was on March 23rd. Her daughter Olga wrote a very beautiful eulogy and her family honored her with roses placed on her casket and they expressed their thanks to her and for her. I had also anointed Anna and prayed the Last Rites for her while she was in the nursing home so she too received the prayerful support of the Church. Anna was known as “Babsa” and was revered by her family. May she and all of our departed parishioners celebrate forever the Easter that is eternal in heaven.

Several parishioners and staff members have been visit- ing Father Vesely at Mount Alverna and he thanks you all for your cards and prayers. His therapy is hard work and as many know, the progress seems slow. So please keep supporting him as we wait for him to return to us.

By now you should have received our Spring edition of the News & Views Newsletter. John Sabol and his crew have done another fantastic job as they interviewed some members of the parish (and Church), new and not so new (I’m quite the diplomat). We also have a digital copy online at our website. Thanks to all who contributed to this latest edition. 

Pastor's Column for March 25, 2018

Mary Loar has been in a nursing home since I’ve been pastor here at St. Leo’s so I did not know her personally. But at her funeral Mass on March 16th, we celebrated Mary’s long life of 94 years. She was also married for 67 of those years and when her husband Glenn was baptized and con- firmed at St. Leo’s about 18 years before he died, they also had their marriage blessed here. Mary loved to come to church & so we need to pray for her who prayed with us. She has 3 children & several grandchildren who honored her memory. May she rest in God’s peace.

Don’t forget about our annual Pancake Breakfast which will be available in Lux Hall between the 8 & 11am Masses on Sunday. Just be careful the pancakes don’t make you too drowsy during the 11am Mass or I’ll have to scream at the pulpit to wake you up.

Though I still have the taste of corned beef in my mouth from St. Patrick’s Day, I still think about the great food served at our Fish Fry’s this Lent & express my gratitude to all who worked hard to make them possible, especially those behind the scenes who set up, worked in the kitchen or at the carry-out in the cafeteria, and of course those who served at the line. God bless you all for allowing us the opportunity to enjoy a good meal and each other’s company again this year.

Last Saturday we celebrated the 65th Wedding Anniversary of Giovanni (John) & Irma Zappitelli at the 4pm Mass. Yes, we blessed these two Italians on St. Patrick’s Day! But they are wonderful people (aren’t all Italians?) who were born in Italy & came to the United States after they were married. We are very blessed to have them as members of the parish for many years and their presence is enjoyed by the members of the St. Leo’s Seniors. God’s blessings on them!

If you would like to take advantage of the gift of God’s mercy before Easter, we will be hearing confessions this Tuesday at 11am and this Wednesday at 1pm. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be at 7pm on Holy Thursday and the Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion will be at 3pm Good Friday. We will also have the student’s Passion Play on Friday at Noon and Stations of the Cross Friday evening at 7pm. Please note that our Easter Vigil Mass will be an hour and a half earlier this Holy Saturday, beginning at 7:30pm (and of course there will be no confessions or 4pm Mass on Saturday afternoon). The Food Blessing will take place at Noon on Holy Saturday. We will be adding an additional Mass on Easter Sunday so Mass will be at 8am, 9:30am and 11:00am. We look forward to having you join us for the great feast of the Resurrection. 

Pastor's Column for March 18, 2018

Jerry Bresnahan and his wife Gail were married for 53 years, had 5 children & 20 grandchildren. I visited with them at their home and anointed them about 3 years ago and found them to be delightful people. I have since learned that they both worked in our school for several years as they wanted their children to attend Catholic school, and they were both active parishioners in other ways as well. Jerry, whose funeral Mass took place last Monday, was a Eucharistic Minister for 26 years so it was fitting that we would remember him and pray for him while celebrating the Eucharist that he both distributed and received when he was healthy and when he was ill. We extend our sympathies to Gail and to their chil- dren.

I have been having Mass at Mount Alverna on Tuesday mornings, substituting for Fr. Vesely while he is in rehab there, and he was able to concelebrate this past Tuesday. He is doing very well but the rehab is taking longer than what we originally thought (isn’t that always the case?). So please keep praying for him that he may return to us soon.

Once again Lent seems to be flying by so fast. Next Sunday is Palm or Passion Sunday and that begins Holy Week. Please be sure to pick up some palms as you enter the church. We will bless them at the beginning of Mass & then you can take them home. You usually see them behind a crucifix on the wall. And according to ancient tradition, we have a wonderful Pancake breakfast in Lux Hall on Palm Sunday every year so please plan on joining us for that as well. Our last Fish Fry will be this Friday, March 23rd as we do not have a Fish Fry on Good Friday which will be March 30th.

Remember our other wonderful tradition of collecting items for children through our Have a Heart, Lend a Hand Lenten opportunity. You can bring the items to the School Cafeteria next weekend.

One last call for our Trip to Italy this October. The registrations are due in April so if you would like to join the 10 people from our parish who are already registered, please be sure to see or call me for more information.

We’re hoping to give the church floor a good cleaning before Easter. You’ve heard the expression, “This floor is so clean you can eat off of it!” Well, we know many of you will be bringing Easter baskets of food to be blessed on Holy Saturday. You’ll probably be tempted to eat it off the church floor it will be so clean. But don’t do that. We want to keep it clean for Easter Day. 

Pastor's Column for March 11, 2018

Margaret Neff was a very active and outgoing parishioner who served as a Eucharistic Minister and then received Holy Communion at home when she could not come to church. Her funeral Mass was celebrated last Monday and we express our sympathy to her 3 children. Margaret really lived her life helping others and being present to them and so stands as a reminder to us all of our call to do the same. May she receive her reward from God.

This weekend Bishop Gries will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 4pm Mass for several of our young people. We welcome him and congratulate those who will be receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit who will guide them in their lives of faith. Thanks to all those who have been responsible for their religious education and especially their preparation for this final sacrament of initiation into the Catholic Church. Please pray for these and for all of the young people of our parish.

Fr. Vesely is currently at Mount Alverna on State Road for physical therapy and should be returning to us soon. A couple weeks ago his knee was swollen and a visit to the hospital showed that it was caused by arthri- tis (and gratefully, nothing more serious such as an infection). But he is in need of therapy before he comes home so please say a prayer for him that he may heal quickly.

Both of my girls had a trip to the vet last week for a dental exam and cleaning. They needed to extract one tooth from Abby and two from Michaela but they have nice white teeth now and don’t need doggy dentures. When we arrived at the vet I put Michaela on her leash & she was so excited to get out of the car & sniff around outside but as soon as I opened the door to the vet clinic, she suddenly realized where she was & the tail went down quickly and she looked at me with those sad eyes as if I had betrayed her. I had to even walk with her to the back room as she wouldn’t budge when the nurse took hold of her leash. Abby was in a little carrier so she was easy to deal with but she wasn’t too happy when they took her out or when they tried to put her back in. But the ride home & some food quickly took care of her bad mood. Food usually does that for me too.