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. 

Pastor's Column for March 4, 2018

The Fish Fry’s have been wonderful so far. True to the tradition, the food is delicious & the prices very reasonable. This is the report I hear from many who travel to different Fish Fry’s in the area. It’s great to see so many parishioners working so well together every year for this event. I wish I could say this to each one personally but at least here I say it to you all: thank you for your time and effort in providing our parish and local community the opportunity to enjoy a good meal & the companionship of one another. This past Friday we had the option to enjoy a lobster dinner which re- ally rivaled that of local seafood restaurants. And we’ll be having another one in a couple of weeks so be sure to see the bulletin for details so you can order your ticket in advance.

As you are reminded by the special logo on our bulletin cover & on our website, we are celebrating our 70th Anni- versary as a Parish this year. I’ve asked John Sabol, who is our parish archivist, if he could assemble some pictures from our history that would be enjoyable to view throughout the year. He has not disappointed! He and his wife Jeanne have set up this wonderful display in the vestibule of the church (the display case was donated by my dad who is thrilled we can use it to good purpose here at the church). There is a large picture over the display which shows parishioners building the first temporary church so that Mass could be celebrated here on the new property. Then there are interest- ing pictures displayed in the glass case which are described on little cards next to them. These pictures will be on display all year but will be changed with new ones periodically. You can enjoy them especially when we offer coffee & donuts in the vestibule but please stop by there anytime before or after Mass & take a look. I’ll try to mention some of the highlights in this column. Our thanks to John & Jeanne for their great work on this!

You’ll begin to see our Holy Week schedule in the bulle- tin. I want to point out that Bishop Perez has changed the time we are permitted to begin the Easter Vigil on Holy Sat- urday evening from 9pm to 7:30pm. I hope this will allow more people to join us for this most important Mass of the year as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We do not have anyone being baptized at our parish this year but we will still join with all those being made members of the Church throughout the Diocese and the world as we celebrate this wonderful liturgy. I also want to mention that as we did last year, we will add a Mass on Easter Sunday at 9:30am in order to accommodate the people who will be joining us for the great feast of the Resurrection. So the Easter Vigil will be at 7:30pm on Holy Saturday evening, and Mass will be at 8am, 9:30am and 11am on Easter Sunday. 

Pastor's Column for February 25, 2018

We had a funeral service for Wayne Maurer on Ash Wednesday. We express our sympathies to his wife and two daughters, one of whom reflected beautifully on his life during the service.

Stella Sugalski also died and her funeral Mass was on February 16th. She was 95. I made a visit to her home a couple weeks before she died and she was hoping to live at Marymount nursing facility but her health deteriorated quickly. My thanks to Ron Kollar who brought her Holy Communion faithfully for many years and who served at her funeral Mass.

We also pray for Marie Werchelowsky whose Mass of Christian Burial was on February 15th. She and her husband Joe were married for 65 years and had 5 children. Marie and I talked a couple of times at Parma hospital before she died and I knew her to be a woman of faith who loved her husband & children very much. She and Joe were also members of our St. Leo Senior Group, where they had much support. She too will be missed.

Paul Litvin was married to his wife Barbara for 58 years and they had 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 9 great- grandchildren. Paul and Barbara lived in West Salem but left there just a few months after I became Pastor there but then ended up here at St. Leo’s where again they found that I had become Pastor (you can’t run away from me easily). They have been members here for about 8 years. We keep them both in our prayers as we pray for the living and the dead.

The diocesan-wide Evening of Confessions will be this Wednesday, February 28th. All Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Cleveland will be open and have priests available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 5pm until 8pm. This has proved to be a wonderful time for people to prepare for Easter but especially for many to return to the practice of their Catholic Faith after many years. We will welcome everyone as Jesus would.

We will use the Apostle’s Creed in place of the Nicene Creed during the Lenten & Easter Seasons as recommended by the Church as it is more closely related to our baptism which we reflect upon during this time of the year.

The black booklet we handed out the weekend before Ash Wednesday contained a nice reflection about our patron, St. Leo the Great, in last Sunday’s meditation. I learned that February 18th used to be the feast of St. Leo in the Western or Roman Rite of the Church (and still is today in the Eastern or Byzantine Rite) but was moved to November 10th in our liturgical calendar. I take that to mean that we can celebrate our patron on two days of the year instead of one. So have a nice meal (like at our fish fry!) or eat some chocolate (unless you gave it up for Lent) or find some way of celebrating our parish’s patron. St. Leo the Great, pray for us! 

Pastor's Column for February 18, 2018

We welcome the Knights of Columbus who will be join- ing us for the 11am Mass this weekend. As you know they have moved from a few blocks up the street on Broadview Rd. to their new home here at St. Leo’s & we are glad to have them. It’s a great fraternal Catholic organization for men to be a part of so please feel free to see one of them after Mass & ask a member what being a part of the “K of C” means to them.

Last weekend the Church celebrated the “World Day of the Sick”, a remembrance of all who are ill and in need of God’s healing. You may recall that the gospel last week was about Jesus healing a leper. He continues to heal today in body, mind and/or spirit. Since we didn’t make mention of it last weekend because it was our Annual Catholic Charities Appeal, I wanted to offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at all the Masses this weekend. If you are “advanced in years” (as the Church calls it using very subjective language), or are experiencing a serious illness, the Church invites you to receive this sacrament whereby we pray for healing in whatever way God chooses to give it to us, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Many people ask me to anoint them at other times after Mass when they are facing a surgery or serious medical procedure and I am very happy to do that as well whenever requested. So feel free to ask so that the Church's prayers may accompany you.

I meant to mention this a few weeks ago but when in flu season, everyone has the right not to receive Holy Commun- ion from the cup. And for the sign of Peace, a simple gesture such as a wave is perfectly acceptable if you are concerned about either giving or receiving germs through hand contact.

Here’s a little fun fact about our first Pastor, Father Lux: when they were building the current church and installing the stained glass windows, Father Lux wanted to learn a little about this specialized skill so he practiced by putting a stained glass window in the priests’ garage at the time (which is currently our maintenance garage that sits between the school building and the Parish Center). I always wondered why a garage such as this would have a stained glass window in it! And there is the answer (thanks to John Sabol for this historical tidbit). You can still see it on the east end of the garage but of course you can only appreciate the real beauty by looking at it from inside the garage so that the light can shine through it. If you’re that interested in seeing it from the inside, I can sell you a ticket. It’s good that we still have something made by our founding pastor’s own hands, even if it’s only a part of the garage. 

Pastor's Column for February 11, 2018

This weekend we have our annual Catholic Charities Appeal. In a society where religion and faith no longer are at the heart of most families and are often criticized (sometimes rightly, oftentimes unfairly) for not always being pure in the love of God and neighbor, this is one area where the Church really shines: in her outreach to the poor. What I most appre- ciate about Catholic Charities is that it is an organization that helps so many people of various ages, backgrounds & faiths and does so in many different ways. When we contribute to this most worthy cause, we are helping God’s children, our brothers & sisters, in a very concrete way. We are living the Gospel and loving our neighbor in imitation of Jesus himself. I am never hesitant to call on your help on this Catholic Charities weekend because I know you will be as generous (or even more) as you have been in the past. Every year we seem to reach or exceed the goal that is given to us by the Diocese (based upon our annual collections and the amount we have been able to pledge in the past). I believe you are very much aware of what Catholic Charities is and how far reaching it is in it’s charity toward others, so I keep the request for your help brief, knowing that if you wish more information on how and where and whom it helps, that is available to you in abundance through literature available to you in the church as well as on our website ( or the diocesan website ( Thank you in advance for your sacrifice this year. May we be confident that our giving will be a great blessing to the many who are helped by our charitable work.

It is good timing that our Catholic Charities Appeal weekend introduces us to the first few days of Lent with Ash Wednesday on February 14th. We will have a parish school Mass at 8:30am and a Mass at 7pm. Ashes will be distributed during these liturgies as a sign of our repentance and hope for conversion.

Also this Friday we begin our Fish Fry’s in Lux Hall which begin at 4:30pm and end at 7:00pm. It’s always a great opportunity not only to share in an enjoyable meatless meal but also in the fellowship of other parishioners & friends who come to join us. After the Fish Fry you are encouraged to join us for the Stations of the Cross at 7pm in the church. These prayers help us to walk the path of Jesus to Calvary so that we can unite our sufferings with his and draw strength from his example.

Finally, please mark your calendar for our diocesan-wide Evening of Confession which will be on Wednesday, February 28th this year, as always from 5pm until 8pm. All Catholic churches in the diocese will be open for the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be celebrated. 

Pastor's Column for February 4, 2018

At our all school Mass at the end of January (we have these about twice a month), we baptized Ava Graewe into our Catholic family. And last Sunday we also baptized Chase McCoy and Della Shadd. Ava and Chase are both students in our school and both were as excited about being baptized as we were to have them receive that first Sacrament of Initia- tion. So as we welcome them we also welcome Della who is a member of the Shadd family from our parish who have a long history here at St. Leo’s. It’s always a wonderful thing to baptize God’s children and to welcome them into the Church.

Of course on the other side of baptism are the prayers the Church offers for her children whom we pray are being born into eternal life. We were sad to say goodbye to Mary Jane Funta and to Terry Olenick whose funerals were held last Saturday. Mary Jane turned 90 this past year and would al- ways stop to say hello to me at the end of Mass. She loved going to Mass. She had 3 children and would call on the help of the Blessed Mother when raising her family. She was a PSR teacher here at St. Leo’s & involved in the pastoral care of others. She said that she longed to hear Jesus say to her at the end of her life: “Well done, good & faithful servant!” I have no doubt she has heard those words.

Terry & Betty Olenick were married here at St. Leo’s but in our Parish Center, not in our church. That’s because the church was undergoing renovations at the time. Terry went to our parish school here at St. Leo’s and so has a life-long his- tory here. He and Betty would open their home to family & friends who needed a place to stay from time to time. Betty and I prayed the last rites for Terry in the hospital and he had family members with him when he died. We pray for Terry and for Betty that they may both find God’s peace until they meet again.

This past Tuesday we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Judy Bizjak. She was described by her family as “loving, kind & generous” and had an incredible zest for life. She not only enjoyed her own life but reached out to others so that they could share in her happiness as well. There were many virtues that were part of Judy’s life and she will be missed especially by her 4 children, 2 sisters & brother. We continue to remember her in our prayers as well.

When attending a wake for a parishioner, I always pick up a holy card at the funeral home after signing the register. I thought it might be helpful to make a copy of these in the bulletin so that you might cut it out in remembrance of our deceased parishioners and use it to remind you to pray for them. You’ll see the first of these in today’s bulletin. 

Pastor's Column for January 28, 2018

This should have gone in last week’s bulletin, but as I type this on Monday, January 22nd, we commemorate the sad anniversary which legalized abortion in the United States. Though the number of people opposed to abortion is on the rise, the number of unborn children who do not have the chance to experience this life is overwhelming. It is with sad- ness but hope that we continue to pray for an end to this culture of death.

When confronted with issues such as this where I feel so powerless, it helps to deal with another issue where there is something that can be done. As Congress continues to argue over immigration, I found an article about Immigration Reform in the latest Northeast Ohio Catholic Magazine. If you don’t have one delivered to your home, let us know & we can take care of that for you (no cost to you). We also have some extra copies in our rectory office (they are pub- lished 6 times a year). Here are two short paragraph’s from this article that summarized this complex issue:

“...the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs that good government has two duties that must be carried out: to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person and to secure one’s border and enforce the law for the sake of the common good.” And “Part of the problem is there are some misconceptions about crime being higher among the immigrant population. ‘That simply isn’t true,’...citing a study by the Washington D.C.-based Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, non-advocacy think tank. The study shows that the crime rate among the immigrant population is significantly lower than that of second-generation and native-born Americans.”

I wrote a letter to our Ohio Senators and our Congressional Representative which simply stated our Catholic belief about these two-fold duties of the government. I encourage you to write or email them yourself. Their addresses are found in the next column.

On January 19, Fr. Ron Bryda had the funeral Mass for Joseph Tocco whose sister Lisa is a member of the parish. Please remember them in your prayers.

Congratulations to Xian Monica Brenne Elise Jolly, a student in our parish school who was baptized last Sunday. She will be making her first Holy Communion this May. Welcome to our Church family Xian!

Today we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, beginning with an Open House from 10am until 1pm for our Preschool and Elementary Schools. Feel free to stop in and see how our children are receiving an excellent education coupled with a faith-based environment. In our 8 county diocese, there are 20 Catholic High Schools, 94 Catholic Elementary Schools and 60 Preschools which total 44,000 students, making it the largest school system in the state of Ohio. We are so blessed to be one of those parishes with a school! May our children flourish because of it. 

Pastor's Column for January 21, 2018

Before I forget, may I ask you to pray for Stella, Rose, Mildred, Fran, & Mary Jane? These are all parishioners whom I have anointed or visited recently & I promised your prayers for them.

Gail Ryan was a longtime member of the parish who had been living in the home of her son and daughter-in-law for several months. She passed away on January 7th and we celebrated her Funeral Mass on Saturday, January 13th. She was a devoted Catholic who held bible study’s in her home, prayed the rosary daily and would never miss Mass when she was physically able to attend. Her son Jay spoke beautifully about her at the funeral and we extend to him and to his wife and 5 children our sympathies and our prayers.

Here’s a bulletin correction: I misspelled the name of one of the twin girls who were baptized last Sunday. Both parents and both girls have names that begin with K (now I keep thinking of the jingle in that commercial for Kay Jewelers that goes, “Every kiss begins with Kay.” I bet that jingle will be in my mind the rest of the day now!). Anyway, I typed “Karson Joan Wheeler” instead of “Karsyn Joan Wheeler.” It was spelled that way in the bulletin because it was spelled that way on the registration form and it was spelled that way on the baptismal certificate. At least I’m consistent. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong everywhere.

So in last week’s bulletin I spoke about why we have parish boundaries and I said I would point out the advantages to being registered in a parish (or parishes). First, being registered (which simply means we have basic information about you in our files like your address, family members, etc.), allows us to know who officially “belongs” to our parish community. This census information helps us to know the size of the parish so that we can plan accordingly. It also helps you because if and when you are asked to be a sponsor or godparent for someone being baptized or confirmed, it is required that you be registered in our parish in order for you to receive a sponsor certificate which gives the assurance that you are a full-fledged, practicing member of the parish & so qualified to act as a sponsor. Being registered also helps when someone is getting married or is requesting another sacrament or when it is time to plan a funeral. You can do this in the rectory office or after Mass at the Information Desk in the vestibule or even online at our website. It’s just a short form to fill out and it will help you and us to know that we are responsible for your spiritual care. So make it official and we’ll make sure that we spell your name right. 

Pastor's Column for January 14, 2018

Ralph Young was married to his wife Mary Ann for 56 years and they have 2 children: Jim & Lisa. Ralph died on New Year’s Day and we celebrated his Funeral Mass last Saturday. He was honored by his son’s words who learned so much from his dad. Ralph also served in the Army and so received military honors. We commend him to the Lord who has promised to raise us up to new life. May he Rest In Peace.

We return now to the Ordinary Time of the Church year until we enter Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 14th. The colors of white, green & violet signal what liturgical time we are presently in. So we’ll be seeing green for a few least inside. I don’t suspect we’ll be seeing green outside for a couple more months. Green inside, white outside.

Congratulations to Kevin & Karyn on the baptism of their twin girls, both of whom have first names that also begin with...K: Kamryn & Karson. My mom used to use the wrong name for us when she was flustered and upset with one of us. She would either call me by my brother’s name (fine with me if I was the one causing the trouble!) or even by the name of her brother “Nunzie (from the Italian “Nunzio.”) Either way, I’d just pretend she was talking to someone else. But I hope that Kevin & Karyn will keep Kamyrn & Karson straight. God’s blessings on these two beautiful children and their wonderful parents.

I mentioned in last week’s column that we are celebrating our 70th Anniversary as a parish this year. You will see a logo to this effect on the front of our bulletin and on our website. So here’s a little information that I got from our 1988 anniversary booklet (when the parish celebrated it’s 40th anniversary): The first Mass of St. Leo’s was celebrated in the Ben Franklin School Auditorium (since there was no church yet) on Sunday, October 17, 1948. There was a simple announcement made in the bulletin of the former Our Lady of Good Council parish which said that St. Leo’s was a new parish in the area & then it gave the territorial “boundaries” which determined if you were to belong to this parish or not. In those days, it was expected that you would register and attend the church that was determined according to where you lived. Today, Catholics are still encouraged to attend the church in whose boundaries they live, but they are also free to register and attend whatever church (or churches) that is of their choosing. The reason for territorial boundaries is more for the Pastor than it is for the people. It tells the Pastor: “You are responsible for the spiritual and pastoral care of the Catholics who live in these boundaries, on these particular streets.” There are also parishes which are meant to serve not those in a certain territory but those of a particular ethnic background. Next week I’ll suggest reasons for why it’s a good idea for you to be a registered member of the parish.