Pastor's Column for November 19, 2017

Our next Faith Formation Session will be on Sunday, November 26th at 9am in the Parish Community Center. Please join us as we watch another wonderful video by Bishop Robert Barron on the life of Michelangelo & his tremendous influence on the Church.

We currently have 10 people signed up for the Tour of Italy trip for next October and we only have 4 spaces left. Please see me if you’d like more information on this great opportunity to get a taste of Italy (from a priest who has tasted a lot of Italy!).

We extend our sympathies to the family of Georgianne Mroczka whose Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on November 11th. Georgianne would drive long distances to be with her family for a special occasion or just to offer support to a friend. As we prayed for all the Faithful Departed on the feast of All Souls November 2nd, we continue to remember her and all deceased members of our parish who died, especially this past year.

The Knights of Columbus will be joining us for the 11am Mass this weekend so we welcome them and thank them for their good work in the Church. They are offering a scholarship to a seminarian & asked if I knew one that could use their support and so I recommended that Ryan Arto be the recipient as he spoke to our parish 3 weeks ago about his own vocation to the priesthood. Please be sure to thank the Knights for their generosity to the Church and for their sup- port of seminarians. They also put on a Reverse Raffle last Saturday in Lux Hall which was enjoyed by many. Thanks to the parishioners who supported them in this fundraiser.

You may have heard that there is a Catholic radio station called “The Rock” and can be found at AM1260. You can get more information about it and listen to it live on their website found at http://am1260therock.com. We’re very fortunate to have this Catholic station in the Diocese of Cleveland. In fact, Bishop Perez has already utilized this medium in order to speak to the people of the Diocese. You can support them on WeGiveCatholic on #GivingTuesday, November 28th. Again, more information is available on their website.

Since we’re still paying some bills from our parish festival, we don’t yet have numbers to share about our profit but will make that available to you soon. In the mean time, I give thanks to all those who organized, planned, worked at or enjoyed the festival last month. It was good to be with fellow parishioners & to enjoy the great food & entertainment. Looking forward to next year.

Please join us for our Thanksgiving Mass this Thursday at 9am. It’s a great way to begin the holiday season and to put ourselves in the right frame of mind as we prepare for Advent & Christmas which are following close behind. 

Pastor's Column for November 12, 2017

Agnes Billick, 92, was a longtime parishioner of St. Leo’s, whose 3 sons attended our parish school many years ago. She was born during the Depression and her father died at a young age. Her mother was also ill so at the age of 13, Agnes had to get her driver’s license so that she could take care of her mother and drive her to her doctor’s appointments. She missed so much of the childhood that many of us enjoyed and the carefree years of being a teenager. Her funeral was celebrated on November 3rd and we pray that she may now have the rewards of her labors.

Congratulations to Patrick Criscuolo who will be receiving his Eagle Scout Award this weekend. Patrick really showed his commitment to service and his leadership abilities when he organized a group to tear down an old deck that was behind the school building. They also prepared the ground there so that it could be used for a garden for our school children to use. Patrick has also been a faithful altar server and is a student at St. Ignatius High School. God bless him as he grows in God’s grace.

We welcome Camden Combs into our Church community as he is baptized this Sunday. It is always a joy to welcome one of God’s children into the Faith. Many blessings on him and his parents.

I will be on retreat this week from Sunday evening through Thursday at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma. Please pray that it may be a means of God’s grace as I recommit myself to the service of the good people of St. Leo’s.

We continue to be saddened by the violence that exists in our country and throughout the world. We mourn the loss of 26 lives because of the shooting at a little church in Texas and pray not only for them but for the injured and those who mourn the loss of a loved one. While we may feel so helpless in such situations, we can ask for help in learning to be peacemakers in our lives so that others may not suffer as a result of the violence that can come from our words, actions or indifference.

On Friday we celebrated the feast of our patron, St. Leo the Great. We entrust our parish to him and seek his intercession that we may grow into a community of deeper faith, love and hope.

The parish staff celebrated the 89th birthday of Fr. Vesely this past Wednesday, November 8th. We’ll plan to invite the whole parish next year to wish him a happy 90th! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves...he’s only 89 and has a whole year to go before the next milestone. May it be a year of health & happiness. 

Pastor's Column for November 5, 2017

Delores Fine, whose funeral Mass was on October 23rd, was 94 years old. She was a member of St. Leo’s Seniors and would often bring jewelry she was no longer using to give it away to someone whom she thought might appreciate it. She was described by her family as a “giver.” May she now receive from the Lord who allowed her the grace to give.

Florence Bacso had been a parishioner here since the 50’s. She and her husband and two sons lived in a house directly behind (or in front of?) our church. Her sons Douglas & Thomas continue to be members of our parish. Though Florence was baptized Catholic, she had not received the sacraments of the Eucharist or Confirmation when younger so she took “instructions” prior to being married to her husband, and they were married for 66 years. Florence was blessed with 95 years of life and at her funeral on October 24th, we prayed that she may now have eternal life in heaven.

Paul Provenzale, 89, was devoted to his family. He also responded to the Lord’s call to serve our neighbor as he delivered Meals on Wheels to the Old Brooklyn Senior Citizens. He served in the Korean War and was the recipient of the Purple Heart Award. Paul had been a parishioner for the last 8 years and we extend our sympathies to his children and grandchildren. His funeral Mass was on October 27th.

On that same day we also had a funeral Mass for Leonard Schmidt (his wife joked that we shared the same last name except that I spelled it wrong!). Leonard and Kathleen were married for 56 years and have 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Lenny was remembered for his sense of humor which he would use when you would least expect it. As a mail carrier, he would make over 480 deliveries a day when he worked prior to his retirement. He converted to Catholicism when he married his wife Kathleen. We pledge our prayers to her and to Lenny.

Finally we extend our condolences to Ramon Cortez on the death of his mother, Felicisima, whose funeral Mass was celebrated by a Filipino priest last Saturday. God’s peace to them.

We extend our congratulations to Katharine Toman & Dale Gobel who are to be married here next Saturday. May they have a long and fruitful marriage.

If you missed receiving a bulletin from a couple of weekends ago, we found the ones that went missing & have them available. Please see one of the ushers.

A lightening strike took out a large limb from one of the trees we had in the front of the school building. That limb fell on power lines which the city repaired very promptly. Unfortunately the whole tree needed to be taken down since it was rotted on the inside. Another power pole on the opposite end of the property also broke as a result of the storm but again was repaired quickly. At least Michaela is happy that there is one less tree for the squirrels to escape to when she’s out for her daily walk. 

Pastor's Column for October 29, 2017

This Tuesday we will be having a Parish Council meeting (we generally meet once a month). As with the Finance Council, you are welcomed to ask any questions or make any suggestions to any of the council members, whose names can be found in the parish bulletin.

This Wednesday is the Feast of All Saints, a holy day of obligation. Mass will be at 8:30am (school Mass which all are welcome to attend) & at 7pm. Please join us as we cele- brate these holy men and women throughout the ages who inspire us in our faith and who pray for us who are still on our journey.

This Thursday is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (more commonly known as “All Souls’ Day). We pray in a special way for all our loved ones and parishioners of St. Leo who have died, confident that our prayers assist them on their journey to God. Mass will be at our usual time, 7:30am Thursday morning. The month of November, especially All Souls’ Day, is a traditional time for visiting the graves of loved ones.

This weekend a seminarian will be visiting St. Leo’s and will be speaking briefly after Holy Communion. As Bishop Perez noted to the priests earlier this month, the Diocese of Cleveland is known nationally for our large fraternity of priests and for the support we offer to one another. This is due in large part to the College and Major Seminaries that we have had in our Diocese for many years and which are located on one campus in Wickliffe. So at this time of the year we try to remember the seminarians who are discerning and preparing for ordained ministry in the Church. We welcome Ryan Arto, a seminarian at Borromeo College Seminary in Wickliffe, who will share with us how he became interested in the priesthood. As you know, every week we publish the picture of a seminarian or novice (someone preparing to enter a religious order) along with their name and parish so that we might pray for them as they discern and prepare for this spe- cial life in the Church. Perhaps you can even cut out that little part of the bulletin each week & put it in your pocket or purse as a reminder to pray for them during the week. I’ll let Ryan tell his story but I will say that he started to think about priesthood when he was in the eighth grade (same as myself) when he attended St. Francis de Sales in Akron. Again we welcome Ryan and pledge our prayers and support for him as he seeks to do the will of God in his life. 

Pastor's Column for October 22, 2017

Included in this bulletin is a Financial Summary Sheet which every parish in the Diocese is required to make available to the parishioners each year. There is also a letter from myself which gives you an overview of our financial situation from this past fiscal year (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017). We were able to operate under budget while taking care of the many repairs and improvements that are required on our property and in our buildings. I acknowledge in the letter your continued faithfulness to our common financial responsibility for the upkeep of the parish and for the many services we provide to you and to others throughout the year. It always seems that because we have made so many repairs and improvements, a time will soon come when we can go through a year without the need to budget so much for future repairs. But as you know from the management of your homes and cars, that time never seems to come as there are always things that need our attention and financial commitment. The letter that accompanies the Financial Summary Sheet outlines some of the more major repairs that have been completed, are in progress, or scheduled for the future. Of course our biggest repair is to our church and school HVAC systems so next year at this time we will show a loss of about $200,000 which has been set aside for that major work. In examining the arches of the church which have cracked over the years due to moisture, it was necessary to look at the roof of the church where we discovered large areas of water which are causing damage to the arches and to the roof itself. We are currently waiting for estimates on what will likely be another large expense. It is unknown at this time if the roof can be repaired or if it will be necessary to replace it. Despite the discouraging news of these expensive repairs, I am grateful that we have the necessary funds to take care of these important needs and I’m hopeful that we will be able to recoup our savings. Please feel free to see me or any of the Finance Council members (whose names are published on the financial report in this bulletin) if you have any questions pertaining to our financial status.

Every month I see a bus parked in our Rectory Office parking lot ready to transport many people to some interest- ing place or event. These bus trips are published in our bulletin & are open to anyone. They go to casino’s, Amish country & so many other interesting & enjoyable places. I’m always hoping to join them myself but my schedule doesn’t always permit me to go. I just wanted to let you know that there is no age requirement so if you’re free to take a day trip, be sure to inquire through these bulletin announcements. 

Pastor's Column for October 15, 2017

We had many people show up for the Blessing of Pets last Saturday in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi whose feast was October 4th. Pictures of the event can be found on our Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & website. Everyone took a great picture...even the humans who held them. We had dogs, cats, a rabbit & even a 35 year old turtle! How is it that a turtle, who lives such a “sheltered” life, can outlive our more active & affectionate pets buy so many years? I remember having a turtle when I was young. All it did was sit underneath this plastic green palm tree. Of course you can’t teach a turtle how to sit or fetch, but they learn “stay” & “play dead” pretty quickly.

At the doors of the church and in the Rectory Office you will find little booklets that describe in more detail the “Reflections of Italy” trip that I will be taking with some parishioners next October. Some were asking me questions I wasn’t able to answer yet but you can join us on Tuesday, October 24th, for a little presentation on the trip (the time will be in next week’s bulletin). We will be going to Rome, Assisi, Florence, Venice, & Milan. Please let me know if I can plan on seeing you at the meeting. No commitment is required yet. We just want to provide information & answer any questions you may have.

A couple weeks ago, the people attending the 8am Mass were greeted by an usher at the door who had to unlock the door of the church for them. We’ve had this strange thing happen on occasion where there is some kind of vacuum created in the church which causes all the doors of the church to stay open when someone comes in & the doors do not close on their own as expected. Well the mystery has finally been solved after I inquired with the people working on our church heating system. When the temperature outside is cooler than inside, but the inside temperature is too warm to be comfortable, the blowers in the system turn on, bringing the air in from the outside instead of using the air conditioning which would be less economical. But that extra air has to escape somehow & so when a door opens the inside pressure keeps it from closing. The original doors of the church were made of a much heavier material than the ones they were replaced with a few years ago which I suspect are aluminum, so these light doors don’t have the right tension to close on their own. Hence, the problem with them staying open under these conditions. The solution is either to turn off this economical feature or to keep a door open so that the air has a place to escape. Now how many of you thought you would learn about such things by coming to church here today? 

Pastor's Column for October 8, 2017

I was not able to attend the dinner & Mass with Bishop Perez as planned this past week. A couple weeks ago I started to get the familiar pain that comes from kidney stones, as those at last week’s 11am Mass know. By the grace of God I had no pain whatsoever while visiting my sister in Florida. But a day after I returned to Cleveland it returned. Maybe that’s a sign I need to move to Florida! The X-ray that I took showed a large stone that needs to be blasted through lithotripsy but I need to wait to have that procedure done until this week or next. So a little prayer will be appreciated.

We received a letter from Bishop Perez which says, “The past month has presented us with a seemingly unprecedented number of natural disasters. The toll on human life, property, livelihoods, and faith communities is immense and the full extent will not be known for some time.” After expressing his appreciation to the faithful of the Diocese for their generous support in our recent emergency collections for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, he asks us to continue to help those also affected by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in central Mexico. If you’re in a position to make yet another donation, you can make a check payable to St. Leo the Great with a note in the memo section of the check that says, “2017 Calamities.” We will be very attentive to this memo space so be sure the mon- ey from that check is given fully & specifically for this cause, and is not part of your donation to the parish. The parish will then send a single check to the Diocese for this recovery as- sistance. Again, your concern for our brothers & sisters who have felt the pain of these natural disasters is very much ap- preciated.

This Monday I will be celebrating a Mass with the PSR (Parish School of Religion) students and their teachers. We have many parishioners who volunteer their time each week to teach the faith to our children. This is in fulfillment of the command of Jesus that we “teach the Gospel to all so that they may be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” I am always inspired by those who are will- ing to give of their time and effort for this opportunity to plant seeds of faith in our children and on behalf of the whole parish, I thank them all. We also encourage the parents strongly to let that faith be nourished by bringing their children to Mass on the weekends since that is at the heart of who and what we are as Catholics. There would be little fruit to speaking of the gift of the Eucharist to the children without their experience of it on a regular basis. 

Pastor's Column for October 1, 2017

I was not able to attend the dinner & Mass with Bishop Perez as planned this past week. A couple weeks ago I started to get the familiar pain that comes from kidney stones, as those at last week’s 11am Mass know. By the grace of God I had no pain whatsoever while visiting my sister in Florida. But a day after I returned to Cleveland it returned. Maybe that’s a sign I need to move to Florida! The X-ray that I took showed a large stone that needs to be blasted through litho- tripsy but I need to wait to have that procedure done until this week or next. So a little prayer will be appreciated.

We received a letter from Bishop Perez which says, “The past month has presented us with a seemingly unprecedented number of natural disasters. The toll on human life, property, livelihoods, and faith communities is immense and the full extent will not be known for some time.” After expressing his appreciation to the faithful of the Diocese for their generous support in our recent emergency collections for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, he asks us to continue to help those also affected by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in central Mexico. If you’re in a position to make yet another donation, you can make a check payable to St. Leo the Great with a note in the memo section of the check that says, “2017 Calamities.” We will be very attentive to this memo space so be sure the mon- ey from that check is given fully & specifically for this cause, and is not part of your donation to the parish. The parish will then send a single check to the Diocese for this recovery as- sistance. Again, your concern for our brothers & sisters who have felt the pain of these natural disasters is very much ap- preciated.

This Monday I will be celebrating a Mass with the PSR (Parish School of Religion) students and their teachers. We have many parishioners who volunteer their time each week to teach the faith to our children. This is in fulfillment of the command of Jesus that we “teach the Gospel to all so that they may be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” I am always inspired by those who are will- ing to give of their time and effort for this opportunity to plant seeds of faith in our children and on behalf of the whole parish, I thank them all. We also encourage the parents strongly to let that faith be nourished by bringing their chil- dren to Mass on the weekends since that is at the heart of who and what we are as Catholics. There would be little fruit to speaking of the gift of the Eucharist to the children without their experience of it on a regular basis. 

Pastor's Column for September 17, 2017

God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be visiting with my sister down in Florida this week and will leave after the 11am Mass on Sunday. She and some friends of mine live in the Fort Myers area so I was going to visit and stay a few days with both of them during the week but my friends have a pool with a large “cage” over it (to prevent insects and golf balls from getting in...they live behind a golf course) & that cage collapsed as a result of Hurricane Irma. My sister’s house suffered little damage but they were very much afraid of armed looters. Unfortunately they do not have power yet and are not expected to get it back until Friday. They have a generator that helps keep the food cold & the lights on but is not enough of course to power the air conditioning. That’s a small price to pay compared to all those in Florida and Texas who lost their homes and even their lives because of these hurricanes. Speaking of which, we received over $5,000 from our 2nd collection for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas last week. Thank you for your incredible generosity! I’m so proud of how our community is always reaching out to help others, even through our constant St. Vincent de Paul Ministry and the donations they receive from you.

We would like to ask for your help with our upcoming Parish Festival next month. We are in need of volunteers in many different areas. There are sign up sheets in the vestibule of the church so please consider helping us out in any way you can and with whatever time you have.

We’d like to remind you again of the opportunity you have to make your weekly contributions online instead of using the envelopes that are mailed to you. For you, this has the advantage of not having to write checks, find cash or re- member bringing your envelope to church. For us, it means we save money not having to send out envelopes (which costs us several thousands of dollars a year), and we tend to collect more since we will still receive your weekly contribu- tion even if you are on vacation or visiting another parish on any given weekend. You set up it by clicking on the WeShare icon on our homepage (www.leothegreat.org) and it only takes a few short minutes so that you can literally “set it and forget it.” We’re happy to help you with it too if you stop by the Information Desk after Mass or in the rectory office dur- ing the week. You are able to include any special collections we may have (for capital improvements, Catholic Education, the Missions, etc.). It couldn’t be easier & again, it’s a big help to us. Thanks to the many parishioners who have already signed up and are using this convenience already. Again, if you wish to continue to use cash or envelopes in the weekend collection, you can continue to do so. But we appreciate your consideration of this easy way of financially supporting the parish. 

Pastor's Column for September 10, 2017

It doesn’t seem right that summer is over. Have you ever wondered why July & August can’t last as long as January & February? Same number of days, I know, but 2 of those months seem so much longer than the other two. Here we are in the second week of September already. Tempus Fugit (Latin for “Time Flies,” but I’m sure you already knew that)

Congratulations to Jack & Grace Pauloski who are cele- brating their 60th Wedding Anniversary! I’ll be asking God’s blessings on them during the 8am Mass because they have both been a great blessing to our parish. They are one of those couples that just make me smile every time I see them (at least on the inside if it’s too early to smile on the outside). I am very happy to join them in thanking God for the years of their marital love and witness and we pray that God may con- tinue to bless them with strength and peace.

Everything has been going very well in our parish school. We have 234 students in the elementary school and 32 in the Preschool which is near capacity for both. Our new Principal is adjusting very well and all the faculty, staff & students joined us for our first all school Mass this past Friday, on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As we cele- brated her birthday, we asked for her continued prayers as we embark on this new school year.

Thanks again for your willingness to sell a few raffle tickets for our Parish Festival which is coming up in just a month or so. It’s always good to have something to look for- ward to so I hope you plan on joining us for that parish event in October.

I was ill on the day of the new bishop’s installation but gratefully I was able to watch it on EWTN. He began his homily by saying, “God is good!” To which the people re- sponded, “All the time!” And then when he said, “All the time...” they said “God is good!” I tell you that in case he ever begins a homily that way here you’ll know how to re- spond. I don’t know when he’ll visit us here at St. Leo the Great but we look forward to welcoming him. I better let him know in advance that sometimes Michaela likes to make a surprise appearance at Confirmation. Somehow I get the feel- ing he would be just fine with that.