Pastor's Column for September 16, 2018

I am very grateful to the Knights of Columbus for their generous donation of $3,000 to the parish for the landscaping of the outdoor Blessed Virgin Shrine in the backyard of the Parish Community Center. Some landscapers are planning on planting some shrubs this weekend and have already dropped off some boulders which gratefully don’t have to be planted. It is being done at this time so that by the spring we hope to see the difference it makes after being settled in for the fall & winter. The “K of C” have been good to our parish and we continue to be grateful they have made their home with us.

You should receive your new “70th Anniversary Edition” of the Parish Directory in the mail soon. If you do not receive one in the next week or so, please stop in or call the rectory office and we’ll be sure to get it to you. It is very useful for looking up addresses, phone numbers or the spelling of a name. The Directory also includes infor- mation about parish ministries & organizations so you can see how much activity takes place in our community during the week. We’re grateful for all the people who use their gifts for the building up of the Church.

You’ll also notice that there is now a full page of the bulletin dedicated every week to letting you know what’s happening in our parish school. Since many of you don’t have children any longer in the school, it can be easy to forget how important the school remains to the life of the parish as we educate our children in the atmosphere of faith. Please remember our Principal, Mrs. Denise Burns, our faculty, staff & children in your prayers when you read about the good things happening in our school.

You may remember me telling you about a new part-time addition to our parish staff around the same time that Deacon Pat & his wife, Joan joined us. Nathan Noga was hired to be a part-time Parish Life Coordinator. When I interviewed him, he told me that he had also applied to be a teacher and dormitory prefect at Gilmore High School, which is what his ultimate goal was. However at the time he was doubtful that he would get the position. I told him that if the opportunity presented itself to him, he should take the job there. It did and he did! I’m very happy that he’ll have a chance to do what he believes to be his calling. While here for a short time, he was able to plan our Lenten Mission for next year so I’ll tell you more about that when the time comes.

Pastor's Column for September 9, 2018

On the weekend of August 18 & 19, I read to you the letter written by Bishop Perez concerning the horrendous abuse of power by both priests and bishops, and the criminal things done to children and young people by members of the clergy. The following week I attended a Conference for Clergy on the role of Preaching in Huntington Beach, California, which was lead by Bishop Robert Barron, who is acknowledged as the greatest Catholic evangelist in the country and whose influence extends even worldwide. He is the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and some parishioners will know of him as they have viewed some of his videos here on Catholicism during the last couple of years. Through his use of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, etc, Bishop Barron has had great influence on both Catholics and the unchurched and I am grateful that I was able to listen to him speak in person during this Conference for Clergy.

I will refer back to him but first I want to say that upon my return from this conference and little vacation, I attended Mass at St. John Cantius on the weekend that the missionary priest was here (and thank you for your very generous contributions to his appeal). A new Pastor celebrated his first Masses there on the weekend that most other churches read the letter from Bishop Perez so he chose his second weekend there to read the letter that I had read to you. Hearing that letter read brought me a new perspective on what it is like to hear such news not as a priest reading it from the pulpit but as a fellow Catholic sitting in the pews. Hearing it read brought those feelings of anger and sorrow and confusion to the surface in me in a new way. I share this with you so that you will know that I stand with you in the pain of these revelations. But I also pray with you that God will reveal to us how we are to respond actively to this crisis of our time. Personally, my perspective has been helped greatly by the words of Bishop Barron as I listened to him in person but also as I have read his blog through his Word on Fire website. While I hope to continue to reflect on this with you in the weeks ahead, I also want to suggest that you take a look at his articles and/or watch his videos concerning this issue at wordonfire.org. He brings a practical and spiritual wisdom to this time as he offers suggestions as to what we, as Catholics today, can do in the face of sin and scandal. Please know that I am always available to you as we struggle together in hope to seek God’s plan for his Church at this time.

Pastor's Column for September 2, 2018

It is a joy for me to welcome Bishop Perez to our Parish of St. Leo the Great for the first time, especially as we celebrate our Parish’s 70th Anniversary this year. After he celebrates the 4pm Mass, he will look forward to meeting you in Lux Hall where refreshments will be served. Since you will have an opportunity to introduce yourself to the Bishop after Mass, I would like to share some information about him which is on the website for the Diocese of Cleveland (www.dioceseofcleveland.org/bishopperez/):

Bishop Nelson J. Perez was born in Miami, Florida on June 16, 1961 to David and Emma Perez. He is the brother of the late Dr. David Perez & Louis Martin Perez. Raised in West New York, NJ, Bishop Perez earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Montclair State University in 1983. He taught at Colegio la Piedad, a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico, prior to entering Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he earned Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theology degrees in 1988 and 1989, respectively.

Bishop Perez has served as Parochial Vicar and as Pastor at several Parishes. He also served as assistant director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics & as founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization. His work in education included teaching courses in psychology and religious studies at LaSalle University, Philadelphia. Bishop Perez also taught Developmental Psychology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 1998, he was named Chaplain to His Holi- ness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor. In 2009, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Reverend Monsignor Nelson J. Perez Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York on June 8, 2012. He was ordained a bishop on July 25, 2012 in Saint Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, NY by Bishop William F. Murphy.

He served as the Episcopal Vicar for Hispanic Ministry, overseeing fifty-four parishes with pastoral ministry to Hispanics, Formation Programs, and Ecclesial Movements.

As a part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Perez serves as a member of the Bishops’ Standing Committee on Cultural Diversity & chair of the Bishops’ Sub-Committee for Hispanic Affairs.

In the year that Bishop Perez has been with us in Cleveland, I have appreciated his constant presence with the People of God in our Diocese. He is known for his kindness, his joy and his pastoral sensitivity. We are grateful to God for his leadership and example in our Diocese. We pray for him at every Mass we celebrate here at St. Leo’s. We thank him for blessing our community this weekend with his presence.

I hope you all enjoy this Labor Day weekend & encourage you to join us for Mass on Monday morning at 9am.

Pastor's Column for August 26, 2018

Please welcome Father John, a visiting priest who will be here this weekend for our annual missionary appeal. Such priests remind us of the needs of the wider Church and ask for our generosity toward our brothers & sisters whom we don’t even know. I will be attending a conference for priests on the west coast and then relaxing for a few days & visiting a friend who is in the San Diego area. I won’t need to bring back any sunshine as we’ve had our fair share of it this summer and I hope that every- one can enjoy it before the fall & winter creep up on us again.

We begin the school year this Thursday with an enrollment of 259 students which is a number we have not had here in a few years. I give credit to our wonderful teachers and especially to our principal, Mrs. Denise Burns, who has emerged from her first year here with a grateful staff and parents who recognize her gentle lead- ership. The students will quickly notice that the cafeteria has a new floor which proudly displays our school logo (a lion’s head) in the center. We are grateful to Mrs. Burns for being able to get a grant to cover half of that expense. As we celebrate the first school Mass of the year on Friday, we ask the Holy Spirit to give our students wisdom and faith.

One final reminder that Bishop Perez will be visiting our Parish for the first time since he was installed as Bishop of Cleveland almost a year ago. I know that you will extend the wonderful warm welcome that is charac- teristic of this parish. The Bishop will be celebrating the 4pm Mass on Saturday, September 1st, and after Mass will enjoy meeting you personally over at Lux Hall where we will have some “hardy” refreshments available. We will be blessed to have the Bishop here again in about 6 months when he returns to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with our young people in March of 2019.

So here is a good question as we celebrate our 70th Anniversary: how did the parish get it’s name? Well the bishop at the time suggested that it be named St. Sylvest- er, since that was the first name of the founding Pastor, Father Sylvester Lux. But Fr. Lux objected & said that it was a terrible name as it was often misspelled & no one knew who St. Sylvester was. The bishop asked him for his suggestion & he chose the name Leo as Fr. Lux had a brother named Leo. And the rest, as they say, is history. May our patron, St. Leo the Great, pray for us.

Pastor's Column for August 19, 2018

We extend our sympathies to Jim Biando on the passing of his mother Julia. She was 89 years old and had a faith-filled life. She had a devotion to Mary as evidenced by the fact she always had a rosary with her. Julia also had a devotion to St. Christopher. She is remembered for her hospitality, her closeness to her family, and her efforts to live as a peacemaker. We entrust her into the loving arms of God who promises resurrection to those who believe in his Risen Son.

We also reach out our prayers for Bette Novak who attends the 8am Mass so faithfully every Sunday and to her husband Don. Their son Scott died suddenly at the age of 48. It’s a terrible thing for a mother to lose her child, but Bette turns to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help, remembering that she too lost her son at a young age. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated here on Thursday for Scott and he will be missed by all who loved him. May he rest in God’s peace.

Congratulations to Ralph & Dianne Buccier who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary at the 11:00am Mass last Sunday. They look way too young to have so many years of marriage behind them! They have several family members who are connected to the parish and we are grateful for their long presence in the parish. May they have many more years together.

Last week I went to the feast (of the Assumption in Little Italy) with some staff members. The homemade cavatelli & meatballs & pizza & cannolis cannot be missed for even one year. I start at the bottom of the hill & walk up so that I’ll work up a bigger appetite by the time I get to the top. It’s a yearly tradition for me and a way for me to celebrate 50% of my ancestral heritage.

The roofers have started work on the bell tower of the church and the Parish Center. Then they will replace the roof of the church. I was hoping that these would be the last major projects we would have to deal with for a while, but of course the parade of repairs never ends. There are stone panels on the top of the newer junior high wing of the school (which match the arches on the church) and some of these are beginning to separate from the wall. We also have a couple leaks in the gym caused by the steel beams deteriorating behind the brick walls. So we have to remove some of the brick, repair the beams, and then put the bricks back in place. We are so fortunate to have the savings we need to make these repairs but it’s becoming more challenging to get ahead so that we can be prepared for whatever future repairs will be needed.

We welcome the members of the Knights of Columbus who will be joining us for the 11am Mass this weekend. It’s always good to have them pray with us. The same is true for anyone who visits our parish. In this place, you are always welcome.

Pastor's Column for August 12, 2018

This past week I joined with two families in praying for their loved ones who have died. I offered prayers at the funeral home for Gerard Mancino on Tuesday. His wife had passed away just a few months ago where we met in the same place to offer prayers for her. They are buried together at Riverside Cemetery on Pearl Road. May they both be welcomed into God’s kingdom.

I also celebrated a Funeral Mass for Theresa Kocab this past Wednesday. I had also celebrated the funeral for her husband John almost 4 years ago in October of 2014. Both times the family wrote beautiful words of remembrance and acknowledged the faith that was an important part of their lives. Theresa had a special devotion to St. Anthony, St. Theresa (her name sake) and to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she prayed the rosary often. May she and her husband now walk together in the garden of paradise.

This past Wednesday I also joined with the St. Leo Seniors in celebrating the 100th Birthday of Coletta Pacholik What a blessing to be a centenarian (my spell check tried to change the word to centurion!). May God give to Coletta a heart of gratitude for the great gift of life she has received for over 100 years.

We congratulate the parents of Adam Triscari who is being baptized Sunday at Noon. We pray that his parents and godparents will be a worthy example to him as he is raised in the practice of the faith.

This Wednesday, August 15th, is the feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, a holy day of obligation. Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 on Wednesday morning and at 7:00 on Wednesday evening. Please join us as we rejoice not only in Mary’s assumption but in the promise and hope of our own resurrection, body and soul, into heaven.

Thank you for your help in selling the raffle tickets in preparation for our Parish Festival in October. I read that our first Pastor, Father Lux, won the car that was auctioned off at the parish carnival that was part of the history of the early years of St. Leo’s. It may seem to be quite a coincidence that the Pastor would win the grand prize of the car...but not so much when you learn that he had $1000 worth of tickets! I was thinking of buying $1000 worth of raffle tickets in order to win the grand prize at our festival this year, but somehow I don’t think I’d make it out of here alive if I won. And if I would lose, I’d lose big. So I’ll make my small contribution and let the dice roll. To be honest I’d be happy to win $10 so I can keep buying Michaela toys that she doesn’t need. In any case, thanks for selling (or buying) the raffle tickets and good luck to you all.

Pastor's Column for August 5, 2018

This is the month when the children return to school. July always seems to go so quickly. But let’s not waste the rest of the summer by thinking too far ahead and try to enjoy each day of sunshine and warmth.

Just a reminder that Bishop Perez will be visiting our parish for the first time & celebrating the 4pm Mass on Saturday, September 1st. Please make a note of it so that you can meet him in person and tell him about St. Leo, the Great church! It’s good he can be here as we celebrate our 70th Anniversary this year. Though the choir takes a break for the summer months, I believe they will be getting ready to be with us earlier this year for the Bishop’s visit so thanks to them in advance for their sacrifice in doing this.

We recently learned that the one local hospital which called us when they admitted a Catholic patient who was from St. Leo’s, is no longer doing so since they’ve been taken over by University Hospital. While privacy is a real concern in this technological society, it comes with a high cost: the inability to know when someone is hospitalized & would like their parish to know about it. So again I’ll ask that if you would like us to visit or put you on the prayer list during a hospitalization, please give us a call to let us know as we won’t have that information available to us anymore. My continued thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Hinton who visit & send cards to those who were hospitalized at Parma Hospital. Their concern for the sick & their ministry means a lot to people who just want to know that we are thinking of them & keeping them in our prayers.

Someone found a bulletin from our parish that is from February of 1999. If I do my math right (and I frequently don’t), that was about 20 years ago when our parish was celebrating its 50th Anniversary. There was a 50th Anni- versary Prayer on the front of that bulletin which I think is still a good prayer for us to use as we celebrate our 70th Anniversary this year. Here it is:

God of our past and our future, we give you thanks for forming us as a family of faith, for guiding us with your Spirit through these 50 (70) years. These times and these days are your gift to us. Help us to open our hearts to become a welcoming people. Help us to end divisions among us by allowing us to show others the breadth and height and depth of your love. Let us be strengthened by your Spirit as we endeavor to build a place of peace and justice where all are welcome and where your love can dwell. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen

Pastor's Column for July 29, 2018

Our thanks to all those who coordinated the Parish Picnic that many enjoyed last Sunday...and to all who setup, cleaned up, brought food or served food. Rarely do you find a hamburger that is large enough to stick out from the bun, or a hot dog that fills the bun completely! To me these are great and important advances in the hamburger and hotdog indus- tries. You probably think I’m getting too excited over this, but I appreciate the small things in life (or I should say the larger things, like hamburgers & hot dogs). Many brought food which complimented the main course, and the desserts were the icing on the cake & the cherry on the top (how about those puns). The rain held off & the weather turned out to be perfect for such an event. It was so good we’ll do it again next year.

I hear there is going to be an event (i.e. more food available) at the corner of Pearl & Broadview this Sunday so I’m going to try to check it out. As we always welcome members of the surrounding community to join us for events like our parish festival, it’s good for us to support the community out- side of our parish. Maybe I’ll see you there.

The good priests at St. Albert the Great have an annual Summer Steak Roast for the clergy so Fr. Vesely & I do our best to attend every year so I’ll be picking him up from Mt. Alverna on Friday. But you’ll have a chance to see him & say hello this weekend as he will be celebrating the 4pm Mass. He is doing great and they continue to appreciate his priestly ministry at Mt. Alverna.

Enough about food. But I do want to mention a place where food is eaten. We had a new floor put in the school cafeteria last week as the former one has several chips & cracks due to all the traffic in that space as it is the main way that people enter the building & of course our children enjoy their lunches there during the school year. Our principal, Denise Burns, was able to secure a grant for a good portion of it so thanks to her as we continue to keep our buildings safe and attractive.

Father Lux, our first Pastor, was known as an excellent administrator, though he was also pretty tough as many priests were in those days. Someone said of him, “Father did what he wanted. You could do whatever you wanted as long as he wanted it.” That sounds like a great way to lead. I think I’ll try that too. I also heard a story about how an all-male choir was singing a long Creed at Sunday Mass. Finally Fr. Lux turned around from the altar & said “That’s enough!” I guess brevity was a value for him. I would never say such a thing to our choir, even when I am thinking it (though to be clear, I would never think it either).

Pastor's Column for July 22, 2018

Today we are having our Parish Picnic—rain or shine— after the 11am Mass. If it shines, we’ll be out by the shrine area behind the Parish Center. If it rains, we’ll be in Lux Hall. Either way, we’ll have hamburgers & hot dogs, shrimp and escargot, filet mignon and lobster tails. OK, we’re only have hamburgers & hot dogs, but now that your mouth is watering, come join us for some good food and enjoyable fellowship. My thanks in advance to those who will be setting up and tearing down, cooking and serving, and to everyone who is helping you and I to have a relaxing, enjoyable time. Even if you can stay only for a few minutes, we would love to see you.

And on your way out of church this weekend, can you remember to pick up the envelope with your name on it in the vestibule of the church? By asking everyone to help us sell just a few raffle tickets, we are able to make enough money to pay some bills. The Parish Festival is less than 3 months away, so please do your best to help us make it successful financially as well as socially.

Last week we had the marble floor of the sanctuary cleaned and polished and it’s looking great. Though it looks slippery it isn’t so if you’re a lector or Eucharistic Minister, don’t be afraid to come into the altar area. We learned that marble should only be cleaned in a certain way and that chemicals or wax should never be applied to it so if there’s ever a need for something to be cleaned up, please let me know so that our maintenance crew can take care of it the proper way. We hope it will retain its shine for many years.

So back to a little history as we continue our 70th Anniversary of the Parish. In 1949 the men of the parish began building the first church on parish property right where the current drive is at. It only took a few weeks to builds as it was meant to be a temporary structure. It had exposed light bulbs and hard kneelers with no padding on them! That’s what we had in the high school seminary too...talk about penance! People still complain to me that their knees were forever altered as a result of too much praying back then.

A couple of years later, the new church, meant to be more permanent, was built and dedicated on July 3, 1951 and Mass was celebrated in it starting on December 24, 1950. This is the church where many of you went to Mass, received your First Communion, were Confirmed and married in. Later, when our current church was built, this structure was moved to it’s present location and is now used as a gym and social gathering space, but it has been named Fr. Lux Hall after our first Pastor, under whom all three church buildings were built. You can see pictures of the first temporary church & of this second church in the display case in the church vestibule. Take a look at our history!

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.