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. 

Pastor's Column for September 3, 2017

Here we are, about to celebrate the Labor Day holiday which signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I think that the fall season is my favorite. I enjoy the cool air, the colorful landscape and the start of a fresh school year. Time to put away the white pants and the shorts. All are welcome to join us for the 9am Labor Day Mass on Monday. The collection that will be taken up is to support the good work of our St. Vincent de Paul Society. We use a very small portion of what we make through our labor to support those who cannot work or who are still in need of supplemental help from us. Thanks always for your support of this ministry at St. Leo.

I have 3 weddings coming up in this month of Septem- ber. The first will be on September 9th and so we congratu- late Chelsie Hanzel and Nicholas Combs on their upcoming nuptials. On September 16th, Emily Hanna & Nik Martini will be married at St. Leo’s. They currently live in California as Nik is in the Air Force. (I had actually spent a few months as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force when I was in the seminary...an interesting experience I’ll have to share with you some time). Finally we will be celebrating another wedding on September 30th for Bethany Halusker & Nathan Miller. We congratulate all of them and wish them well as they begin their married lives

This Tuesday, September 5th, Bishop Nelson Perez will be installed as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Cleve- land. On Monday, Vespers (Evening Prayer) will take place at 5:30pm and the Bishop will be installed at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist during Mass which begins at 1:30pm on Tuesday. Both require tickets due to limited seating at our downtown cathedral but you can view both of these events as they will be live streamed online at bishopperezinstalla- tion.org. You can also view them at our diocesan website, dioceseofcleveland.org as well as on the Diocesan Facebook and YouTube pages. In addition to these, cleveland.com and ohio.com and local television stations are also expected to stream the installation Mass. In case you’re not into the whole internet thing, you can use the old fashioned method of communication and watch these events on television at the EWTN channel and Spectrum Cable (Channel 1314). We know how important the bishop is to the life of a Diocese and to all the parishes and parishioners who are connected to a particular diocese. I believe Bishop Perez will prove to be a pastoral servant of God’s people in the Cleveland Diocese and we will be praying for “Nelson our Bishop” every time we pray the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. 

Pastor's Column for August 27, 2017

Eugene Zola (89) was a man of deep faith who liked living in walking distance to the church so that his family could attend Mass easily & so that his children could attend school here at St. Leo’s. He was also a man of work (at the Illuminating Company) who provided well for his family, his wife Loretta of 63 years and his four children, Keith, Nancy, Jeff & Jeannie. He knew the seriousness of serving in the Korean War but also knew how to enjoy life with his wife and family. At the parish he served funeral Masses, was an usher, and worked at our Parish Festivals. He had a full and meaningful life. May he now receive his reward.

As of July 31st, 47,952 people in the Diocese of Cleve- land responded to our annual Catholic Charities Appeal, pledging $12,066,107. Our own parish of St. Leo the Great has pledged $67,403, which puts us at about 114% of our goal. That means that because of your continued generosity, many people will be fed, clothed, sheltered and helped in numerous other ways through this charitable organization. You really know how to see Christ in your brothers and sisters. Thank you for your goodness to this wonderful cause and for your continued donations to our parish which allow us to provide many services to you and to others throughout the year.

I forgot to remind you last week about the Fest and the Feast. The Fest is the annual event that takes place on the grounds of our seminary in Wickliffe with many thousands in attendance. I didn’t make it to that this year as I was enjoying the incredibly good food at the annual Hungarian Day in Lorain. I also attended the Feast which yearly celebrates the Assumption of Mary in Little Italy (the Assumption did not take place in Little Italy, the feast did). Our staff took a cou- ple of hours off to sample their food & to make sure it was up to the standards of true Italian cuisine (it was). Pizza, cavatelli, ravioli, clams, cannoli, Italian cookies and cassata cake...everything checked out. So if you missed it this year, know that it has my stamp of approval so you can attend next year. It’s just part of the job.

As I type this I am anxiously awaiting the solar eclipse. I can’t look at the sun because I don’t have those special glass- es you need to protect your eyes. They say you can use a col- ander if you don’t have glasses but I think I would look a little silly wearing that on my head. So I’ll just enjoy the 2 or 3 minutes of nap time that comes naturally from the darkness outside. 

Pastor's Column for August 20, 2017

We extend our sympathies to Audrey and her daughter Teresa on the death of their husband/father, Joseph An- drzejewski, whose Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated this past Monday. They are a people of faith and believe firmly in the resurrection of the dead. May that faith be the source of their comfort at this time of loss.

We also remember Estelle Sikon whose funeral was held this past Wednesday. She was blessed with 98 years of life and held on to her faith, praying the rosary and watching Mass on TV when she was not able to be in church with us. We believe that such faith will find its reward in the resurrec- tion.

This weekend we welcome the Knights of Columbus to the 11am Mass. Now that the Brooklyn-Parma Council is connected with our parish, we are happy to have them join us for Mass from time to time. The “K of C” is a Catholic Men’s fraternal organization which my own dad enjoyed for many years. If you would like to meet new people & know the support of their friendship, please reach out to one of these men after Mass. They would be happy to let you know when they meet so that you can see if becoming a member is for you.

We welcome our school children back this week as we annually contemplate how the summer months can go by so quickly. We are especially happy to have Mrs. Denise Burns as our new Principal and trust she will bring many gifts to our school community.

We received a check for almost $7,000 from the estate of Ken Keipert, a parishioner who died in November of 2015. I was sad to hear of Ken’s sudden passing as he was a great support to Fr. Vesely and I and would frequently buy flowers to be placed in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary and in front of the statue of St. Leo the Great when we celebrate his feast day November 10th. And now he continues to bless us by this donation he left to the parish in his will. It would be especially meaningful to say a Hail Mary for him as he was devoted to the Blessed Mother during his life.

In the vestibule of the church are envelopes made out to each registered parishioner which contain raffle tickets we ask you to sell for our mid-October Parish Festival. The raffle is the most profitable part of this fundraiser and so necessary to the financial success of the festival. We would be very grateful if you could remember to pick them up before or af- ter Mass & then do your best to sell (or buy!) them. We an- ticipate your help with this as we have for many years in the past. Thank you in advance for your participation. 

Pastor's Column for August 13, 2017

If you go into the sanctuary (the altar area) & look straight up at the ceiling at it’s highest point, do you know what you would see? A hole. A very big hole. I first saw it when Fr. Russ Lowe was showing me around in November of 2013. He told me that there is a leak in the area directly above that hole which is where our bell tower is located. He had made several attempts to find out exactly where the water was getting through, but had no success. So when I arrived here, I inherited the problem & I too struggled to discover where exactly the water was coming in but it was so challenging because of course it would only leak when we had a very bad rain storm. We made several attempts at repairing it, thinking that we finally discovered the cause, but then we’d find a puddle of water on the floor directly below it. If the hole were just two more feet to the left, you’d see water pouring down on me if I stood at the chair during a bad rainstorm. Maybe some would enjoy that. But finally we felt we were able to find where the rain was finding it’s way in during a storm. We could not repair the hole however until it rained several more times so that we could be sure the leak was taken care of lest we repair the hole in the ceiling only to have it open up again. Before they begin to repair our heating system, we need to patch up that hole since we are losing a lot of heat through it (which naturally rises to the ceiling). There are a few more smaller holes in the arches in the back of the church and in the vestibule ceiling which will also be repaired at the same time.

Another important project this summer is to repair the arches around the church that have cracked as water has seeped in, frozen and expanded, causing the cracks. This is especially true on the west side of the church (the rectory office side). Please exercise caution when walking under them. I am waiting for an estimate on the repairs this week. At least you could say we have a very holy church!

This Tuesday, August 15th, is the feast of the Assumption of Mary, when we celebrate our belief that Mary was taken body and soul into heaven. Since it is a holy day of obligation, Mass will be celebrated at 8:30am and at 7pm.

We have begun to watch the next series of videos by Bishop Robert Barron called the “Pivotal Players,” in which he speaks about the lives of certain saintly people who have played a pivotal role in the Church. Next Sunday the video will be on St. Thomas Aquinas. We will watch the one hour video in the Parish Center at 9am. Feel free to join us. 

Pastor's Column, August 6, 2017

We welcome Liam Durell into the Church as he is baptized today (Sunday) after the 11am Mass. I had the wedding of his parents when I was pastor of St. Stephen in West Salem and they now live in the area & are members of St. Leo’s. We are happy to have all of them as part of our parish community.

Next Saturday, Bishop Gries will be having the 4pm Mass to help Raymond & Nancy Kikta celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We welcome the Bishop and congratulate Raymond & Nancy on their Golden Anniversary. May they have many more.

Our new Principal, Denise Burns, and our new PreSchool Director, Jennifer Robinson, have been hard at work prepar- ing for the beginning of the new school year in less than two weeks. We are expecting a pretty full house again in terms of enrollment and look forward to welcoming back our dedicated teachers and staff. With new smart-boards in each class- room and new computers in the computer lab, the students will have the best technology available to aid them in their learning. I come from the days when they used chalk that would squeak on the blackboards (which were always green but for some reason we called them blackboards). The only technology I remember being available was the ability of the Principal to make announcements over the classroom speak- ers, and the use of the electronic bells that signaled the end of a class period and finally the end of an agonizing day of school. I remember the nuns (the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters) who used clickers in church to signal when we were to kneel and who blew into these black round “instruments” that were intended to help us begin singing in the right key. Sorry for this little trip down memory lane but I was reminded of advice someone gave our school children: “Respect your elders. They made it through school without Google or Wikipedia.” How did we do it?

We are very grateful to those who have started using our online contribution option called WeShare. This alternative to envelopes or cash is beneficial to both you and the parish. It is helpful to you as you don’t need to worry about bringing (or filling) an envelope with you each weekend, nor do you need to search your wallet or purse for cash when the basket comes around. It’s a benefit to the parish because it means that you’ll be able to contribute even when you’re visiting another parish such as when you’re on vacation, and it saves us money since it costs thousands of dollars each year for us to have envelopes sent to you. It couldn’t be easier to do and we’re happy to help you get set up. It takes only a few minutes. So please click the WeShare icon on our website & help us while helping yourself. 

Pastor's Column, July 23, 2017

Please keep in your prayers Frank, Kathy, & Mary Kay who have recently been anointed, and all those who are in need of God’s healing. If you are facing surgery or have a health condition that is serious or has gotten progressively worse, please do not hesitate to ask me for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. I can anoint you right after Mass or any other time that is convenient for you. Most hospitals and nursing facilities have chaplains who anoint the Catholic residents, but please let me know if you have not been anointed there and I will be happy to come to anoint you. We have several Eucharistic Ministers who bring Holy Com- munion to the sick, so if you are homebound or unable to come to church, please let us know so that we can make those arrangements for you.

I spent more time this week going over the costs for our heater repairs. I know you probably don’t want to hear about boilers in the heat of the summer months, but since the amount of money we will need to spend is significant, I want to offer you some of the information that has led to this financial decision.

The actual boilers that are used for the church and rectory (installed in 1969) seem to be in good working order for now, though this can change at any time and we will not know their exact condition until they begin to look inside of them and begin to clean them. However what needs to be replaced are the heating and cooling pumps and the control system (the computer that runs the system). We also need to remove asbestos from around the pipes and replace the current valves and pumps. It is also highly recommended that we add dehu- midification units for the church boiler room and rectory basement. In addition, we need to repair and replace all the steam traps in the school building, repair a leaking pipe on the back of the boiler and install a water meter. All of the heat emitters in the school need to be repaired and cleaned and again we need to replace the control system in the school and remove the asbestos in the school boiler room. In the fu- ture, new boilers will be needed for the church and the Parish Community Center and possibly a backup boiler for the school, but all of this adds up to an additional $200,000 and is not necessary at this time. We have not even gotten into the air conditioning system so keep your fingers crossed...

I’ve learned more about heating and cooling systems that I ever cared to know, but the information is important if we are to make good financial decisions and keep the church comfortably heated and air conditioned and our school chil- dren warm in the winter. I thought it only fair to share some of this information with you so that you are aware of how we are spending the money you generously donate throughout the years.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Parish Picnic today. Let’s soak up the free heat of the sun. 

Pastor's Column, July 16, 2017

The news just broke this Tuesday morning as I type this...we have a bishop! Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Nelson Perez as the 11th Bishop of Cleveland. Bishop Perez was born in Miami, Florida in 1961 and was ordained in 1989 in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was named a Monsignor in 1998. (A Monsignor is an honorary title given to some priests to acknowledge some special work they have done in and for the Church (many used to call me Monsignor when I was in the seminary...either to acknowledge my unique giftedness or just to make fun of me...I’m not sure which but I suspect it was the latter).

In June 2012, Bishop Perez became the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York and received episcopal ordination (was made a bishop) at that time. Our Apostolic Administrator (acting and temporary) Bishop Daniel Thomas said that “the Diocese of Cleveland is receiving a faithful, enthusiastic and joyful shepherd for Christ and His Church. With his warm personality, Bishop Perez will endear himself to all who meet him.”

When the news was officially released this past Tuesday morning, Bishop Perez said, “I am so very happy to be with you, to learn from you, grow with you, and serve you with pastoral devotion. Please don’t hesitate to say hello, if you see me as I venture out, eager to experience my new home. God bless you all!”

The Diocese of Cleveland includes eight counties with 677,219 Catholics, which is 24% of the population. We warmly welcome Bishop Perez and will pray that he will walk with us in the journey of Catholic faith.

I spoke this past week with someone highly recommended by the Diocese regarding our boiler situation. While I’ll give more details to the members of our Parish Finance Council, I’ll let you know that we’re looking at about $200,000 to replace our church/rectory boiler, including the cleaning and repair of our HVAC system in the church, school & Parish Community Center. When we first started to discuss the need to replace our original boilers at our last Finance Council meeting, the question was raised as to whether we should have a fund raiser or special collections for this very large expense. It was wisely suggested that we use the money set aside for such expenses in our Capital Improvement Fund which people have been donating to for many years. I agree wholeheartedly with that recommendation. We thank you for your generous contributions to that fund over the years and are grateful that we have the funds necessary for what is arguably one of or the biggest expenses that a parish would have in regards to maintenance. Please continue to support us financially so that we may provide the necessary services that help us all grow in faith, love and service to God & others. 

Pastor's Column, July 2, 2017

Last Saturday we offered a Memorial Mass for Paul Potosky, a parishioner who would help us during our Parish Festivals. We extend our sympathy to his family and pray that he may find eternal rest.

This Tuesday is July 4th and so the rectory office will be closed but the church will be open for 9am Mass that morning. Please join us as we give thanks to God for our national blessings and pray for our national needs.

A parishioner suggested I look into the possibility of getting cushions for the pews that are reserved for the hand- icapped. I did find that putting a pew-long cushion was very easy to do as it just rests on the seat of the pew. However it was also suggested that some people may not find it helpful as it prevents them from sliding forward on the pew in order to stand up. It’s another one of those things where some may find it helpful and others may not. So if you sit in one of the front pews on either side of the church, please let me know if you are in favor of or against this cushy for your tushy. In my last parish, I was told that the founding pastor did not win the favor of the parish when he was asked if they could put cushions on the pews. He suggested (at the pulpit) that he thought the women had enough padding on them that they were not in need of anything more on the plain, wooden pews. Due to the drop in the collection that Sunday, they wouldn’t have been able to afford them any- way!

Here’s a quote that is timely for the 4th of July. In the journal or diary of King George of England on July 4th, 1776, it was written: “Nothing interesting or important happened today.” Of course he was trying to downplay the significance of the signing of the Constitution. But we know over 200 years later just how interesting & important that day was, not only for the people of the United States but for the whole world. How easily we can pretend to be blind from the things that happen in our world. So let us all be sure to be acutely aware of God’s many blessings to us this summer...the beauty of nature, the warmth of the sun, the light of these long days, and the opportunities to be with family & friends. Go to Cedar Point (as the parish staff just did). Go fishing. Take a ride to the park on Sunday. Have a picnic. Use the freedom we have been given to bless our Creator and to use well the time he has given us to enjoy what he has made.