Pastor's Column, June 25, 2017

     On June 14th we celebrated a funeral Mass for Eleanor Janoch who was 97. They had a smock displayed at the funeral home since she had volunteered working for the American Red Cross for many years. May she who helped others give the gift of life now be rewarded with eternal life in heaven. 

    On June 17th we had a funeral for Margaret Manke who was 92. She was a longtime member of St. Leo’s and remembered fondly by her daughter and grandson. May she too know the happiness of life with God and all the saints. 

    This past Thursday we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Stan Kosiba. Stan and his wife Rose joined St. Leo’s when Corpus Christi had closed. Stan was a member of the Knights of Columbus and was a Eucharistic Minister and an Altar Server for funerals here at St. Leo’s. He was a man of deep faith who had a devotion to “Mother Mary.” I had the opportunity to anoint him a couple of times during the last months when he struggled with his congestive heart failure and he was prepared to meet the Lord. We extend our sympathies to his wife of many years, and to their children, as we pledge our prayers for them and for Stan. 

    As Sister Erin prepares to leave us at the end of this week, we once again express our deep gratitude to her for all that she has done for St. Leo Parish and School. She did incredible work, the fruits of which will be seen for years to come. And Sister is working right up to the very end, making sure that everything is ready to go for the new school year in August. She has also been working with Denise Burns, the new Principal, to provide for a smooth transition. Most recently, Sister arranged to have the lights in the gym (Lux Hall) replaced with new LCD’s which will save money since the older lights were 8,000 watts but the new ones are only 1500 watts. The new gym and classroom doors have been installed in the building along with new smart boards in every classroom (remember when all we had were “blackboards” in school? Now they have “smart boards” that know the answers even before we ask the questions). So again, on behalf of the Parish Community and the School Faculty & Staff, let me offer our sincere thanks to Sister Erin and our prayers and best wishes for her new ministry in secondary education. Godspeed!

Pastor's Column

Jean Adams is remembered by her family for her role as a loving mother and grandmother who had a devotion to Mary, the Mother of the Church. She extended her motherly care to special needs children at the Broadview Center (now closed). We continue to pray for her after her funeral Mass & ask God to show mercy to all our departed loved ones.

We wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the men of the parish. During the last year you have heard me speak or write about my own dad who will be turning 90 in 3 weeks. He continues to do very well at the assisted living residence in Lakewood. He spends a few days with his wife each week at her place in Strongsville or she stays with him in Lakewood. As I write this, I remembered that I just missed their 11th Anniversary by a few days so I better say some- thing nice about him here to make up for that. That would be easy to do as my dad has many endearing qualities, not the least of which is his deep faith. So I suggest you take the opportunity this weekend to tell someone else of something you admire about your father, whether he is living or de- ceased. And let us all remember to give thanks to God for these men who hopefully showed us a loving image of our heavenly Father through their love for us.

You’ll notice at some point this summer that we are having more work done on our parking lot as we do every year. With two large lots, it’s a challenge to keep them in good shape since the winter can take their toll on them as well as the daily traffic. We will be having sections of the lot on the school side of the church repaired, including the entrance off of Broadview and the section that connects the school and rectory lots. They will also fill in the area where we had our mobile unit and repair a couple of the drains that have sunken in.

Soon you’ll also notice some new benches at the shrine of Mary which were purchased through the generosity of a parishioner. We bought them in Amish country & they are made out of recycled plastic (good for the environment) & will not fade in color. They are so durable that they can be left out during the winter months (for those who like to sit on snow-covered benches in the bitter cold of winter...you know, for penance). While hard to describe, the back part of these benches can easily be folded up to act as a table. Please feel free to make use of this shrine area whenever you please. We hope to do more landscaping in this area in the future so that it can be a beautiful place of serenity and prayer. 

Pastor's Column

I had a funeral service this past Monday for James Deering. Please say a prayer for him as well as for his moth- er and sister who mourn his passing.

There are many other people who are ill & who are in need of our prayers too: Stan, Betty, Daniel, Judy, Donna, Pamela, & Jerry, to name just a few I have anointed lately. These are the people who carry the cross of illness and who need the healing & strength that is given by the Lord. We also remember their caregivers and loved ones who contin- ue to inspire me by their selfless dedication to the well- being of our ill brothers & sisters.

Hopefully you noticed how good our grounds are look- ing when you drove in to the parking lot today. Our mainte- nance crew has done an excellent job so early into the sum- mer by planting flowers and spreading mulch. 160 yards of mulch was very generously donated to us again by the Rosby family, parishioners of St. Leo’s. They have donated mulch to us for several years and we are very grateful to them! Even our signs (which need to be replaced & updated sometime in the future) were re-painted. The grass is kept cut, flowers are watered daily & bushes and trees are trimmed. Many thanks to our maintenance department for the great work they do and the many projects they will be working on this summer, both inside and out.

Some people have asked for the name of the book I mentioned last week when speaking of how Divine Provi- dence intervenes on our behalf at times when we think that such strange events are mere coincidence. The book is called “The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic” by Michael Medved. It’s available on Amazon (this is not a paid endorsement from either the au- thor or from Amazon...though if either of them wanted to send me a little something, I wouldn’t object).

A well-known company by the name of Collette pro- vides many tours for groups and is used by several priests in our Diocese. I would like to be part of a tour that would travel to Italy in the fall of 2018. There are three different itineraries which include places like Rome, Venice, the Amalfi Coast, Florence, etc. Next Wednesday (June 14th) at 7pm in the rectory, I’ll be having a meeting with anyone who may be interested in joining me. It’s just an informa- tional meeting so feel free to attend if you’d like to talk about the possibility of an 8-10 day tour. Whether you join me or not, here’s a travel tip: when preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. Trust my experience on this. 

Pastor's Column

     We congratulate our 8th graders who will be having their graduation ceremony after the 4pm Mass this weekend. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to help educate these young men & women and to have passed on to them the treasures of our Catholic faith. Whatever success they find in their life after graduation can be credited, at least in part, to their teachers and to all who contribute to our parish school. We pray that God may bless their plans and endeavors, and hope that they will bless the world they will live and work in. 

    This weekend the Diocese asks us to have our second in-pew appeal for Catholic Charities. This will be done briefly, but it is intended for those who may not have been here when we had our first appeal back in February. What is also special about this appeal is the $100,000 Matching Challenge Grant which doubles the impact you can make with your contribution. Any new, increased or additional gifts received in the special in-pew envelopes or donated online at www.catholiccommunity.org/challenge will be MATCHED up to $100,000. So if you have not yet made a pledge (one time only or monthly), please consider doing so for the good of the many people who are helped through the work of Catholic Charities. 

    My thanks to the members of our Finance Council who met with me this week to review our financial status and to make recommendations as to how we can be good stewards of your generous contributions. We are especially grateful to those who have chosen to make their contributions online through our website (www.leothegreat.org/WeShare). We're glad that this has provided a convenient way for us to no longer have to use checks or cash or to remember to bring our envelopes each week. We also discussed our summer projects such as more parking lot repairs, more windows replaced in the rectory, the repair of the cracked arches on the church, and a new floor in the Parish Center. I am in the process of talking to a Facilities Manager from the Diocese who will assist me in the process of replacing our church & rectory boiler. And we are investing more of our savings so that we can continue to grow our capital improvement funds. Our maintenance crew is also set to begin our summer work of grass-cutting, mulching, cleaning the school and many, many more little projects that always need attention. Whether these people are part of the planners or part of the work involved in keeping our property clean and in good order, I am grateful for how much they contribute to the good stewardship of our finances and property. 

    Next Sunday, May 28th, we will continue to watch the video series from Bishop Robert Barron which we began during Lent. We will meet for about one hour beginning at 9am in the Parish Center. In this video, Bishop Barron explains the words, gestures and teachings of the Church's Eucharist. Don't miss it!

Pastor's Column

Congratulations to Vincent Notaro & Alexandria Na- tal (St. Leo's) who will be getting married this weekend, and to Bella Nowak who will be making her First Holy Communion on Saturday. We pray that these sacraments of the Eucharist and Matrimony may be instruments of grace to our fellow parishioners.

Thanks to Patrick Criscuolo, a student at St. Ignatius High School who took on the project of tearing down an unused deck behind the school building so that our school children could potentially use the space as a garden. Pat- rick is an Eagle Scout and did this project to show his leadership abilities as well as his desire to serve. We're grateful to have him and his parents as active members of the parish.

I want to wish all the women of the parish a Happy Mother's Day. I've been thinking a lot about my mom lately as my sister and I were emptying the attic of my dad's house in Lakewood so that we could prepare to sell it now that my dad is in assisted living (and doing very well!). My sister and I came across many things that re- minded us of our mom, who died in 2001 from colon can- cer. She was the secretary of our parish, St. Mark, where we all grew up & went to school. Interestingly, she died on April 25th, which is the feast of St. Mark, and that year, was also Secretary's Day. One of the things we found in the attic were pictures from my brother's wed- ding back in the early 1980s. He happened to be married here at St. Leo's and so there was a picture showing my mom walking up the center aisle of our church wearing a beautiful long dress as well as a broad smile on her face. So when I process up that same center aisle as we begin Mass every weekend, I think of how I am l quite literally and symbolically walking in my mother's footsteps, whom I know would have been so happy that I am pastor here, where my cousin also served as a newly ordained priest. It's also a blessing for me to remember that my mom was here so long ago not only for my brother's wedding but also for the baptism of my triplet nieces whom I baptized here at St. Leo's (and as I type this on Wednesday, May 10th, it happens to be their 26th birthday!). The reason why I share all this with you is that for those who have a mother that is living, you can share with them one of your memories of them that makes you happy. For those of us who have a mother who has gone to the other side of life, we too can honor them by sharing a favorite story about them. We do this with the saints all the time, so why not with those whom we pray are also being prepared for sainthood in God's kingdom? May all living mom's enjoy this day with their loved ones. 

Homily...Peter the Preacher

As one who preaches, I was intrigued by the sermon give by St. Peter as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The reading began by saying, "Peter stood up with the Eleven and proclaimed..." All of our preaching today must be "apostolic," or based on the preaching of the Apostles since they were the ones who spent time with the Lord.

Peter's basic message was this: "Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." These were dangerous words for they implied that Caesar was NOT the Lord, a crime for which your life would be taken by the Roman Empire. And in fact that is what Peter and the other apostles suffered. But his preaching "cut to the heart" and caused the people to ask what they should do. Peter was clear as we should be today: "Repent and be baptized." Our life must always be about repentance and conversion, a change of heart. 

Finally, Peter said that the people must "Save themselves from the corrupt generation." We too need to proclaim that much of our society is corrupt as well today. So the challenge is given to us. Will we allow Jesus to be the Lord of our lives or we will live as the Masters of our own life?

Homily...Ite Missa Est

During the singing of the Lamb of God at Mass, the priest is breaking the large host into smaller pieces. This is to symbolize how we, though many, are receiving from the One Bread, the same Body of Christ. In the earliest days of the Church, the eucharist or Mass was known as "the breaking of the bread." At the end of the gospel today, we are told that the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. When he "broke bread" with them, they remembered how he did the same at the Last Supper. 

When Mass was in Latin, the priest ended it by saying "Ite, missa est." That means, "Go, the Mass is ended." "Ite" means "go" and "missa" means "to be dismissed." This is where we get the word "Mass." In the Roman Missal, the priest has 4 options for the dismissal of the people after the final blessing. They all begin with the word, "Go": Go forth, the Mass is ended. Go and announce the gospel of the Lord. Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life. Go in peace.

We are not just announcing the end of Mass, but telling people to go from there in order to live the faith they just celebrated. Go and glorify the Lord with your life. Go and live in peace. Go and announce the gospel by the way you live. We are sent on a mission to bring our faith into daily life

Pastor's Column

Congratulations to Aaron Highberger & Megan Kozelka (from St. Leo's) who are getting married this weekend. May they live out their marriage in faith and in love.

We also extend our prayers to Cooper Wilson who will be making his First Holy Communion at the 11am Mass this Sunday. He will not be able to join with his class next Saturday, May 6, when they receive the Eucharist for the first time at the 4pm Mass. We look forward to celebrating this special occasion with Cooper and the rest of the 2nd graders.

We received a number of applicants for the Principal position of our Parish School but based on the positive feedback I received from the Office of Education in the Diocese of Cleveland and from Sister Erin, I interviewed one candidate in particular who seemed to have wonderful qualifications based on her resume. After meeting her in person and inquiring more into her experience and desire to become a part of the St. Leo community, I was happy to offer her the position. Her name is Denise Burns and she has been a teacher (in several grades) at St. Peter School in Lorain for many years. She has also been the Director of the Extended Day Care Program at St. Joseph in Amherst, where I had been assigned many years ago. Denise has spoken with Sr. Erin and they have already begun to work together to provide a smooth transition when Sister's time here ends at the end of June and Denise officially begins July 1st. Sister has pledged to be of assistance to Denise at any time, even during the next school year. And I know that Sr. Erin will also hand over an administration that is extremely well organized and ready for a new principal to assume easily. Sister will address the parish in the next month or so through the bulletin and Denise will be able to be introduced to the parish in August. As we thank Sister Erin for the great work she has done during the last couple of years, we also extend a warm welcome to Denise Burns as she joins us in our mission of providing an excellent education in the atmosphere of faith.

On this third Sunday of Easter, we remember that we need a full 50 days to celebrate our joy in resurrection of Christ and in the promise of our own resurrection because of him. We will continue to see the beautiful flowers in the sanctuary, wear white & gold vestments, and sing Alleluia in our Easter hymns. I hope that these weeks will find you drawing closer to God in personal prayer, in our public liturgy and worship, and in acts of charity. 

You Can Now Make Your Contributions Electronically!

We are pleased to inform you that our parish now has a solution to make donating simple and easy, while at the same time keeping the process safe and secure. Online Giving is now available for parishioners who would like to make online donations to our weekly offerings, as well as other parish collections. We are utilizing this technology for the well-being and growth of our parish community.

You can set up a recurring weekly or monthly payment, allocate different amounts for our different collections, and view complete, accurate financial records at any time. Those who wish to continue to use traditional methods of offering may do so (such as receiving envelopes each month through the mail), however, we ask that you prayerfully consider Online Giving. Some of the benefits for the parishioner include: no need to write checks; you can give even if you are unable to attend services; and your contribution amount can easily be adjusted.

The benefits for the parish include: no check processing fees; more consistent giving with recurring contributions; online donation summaries for record keeping; reaches a wider demographic of givers; and accommodates all special parish collections and missions.

If you would like to sign up, just click on the WeShare logo above to access the parish's Online Giving Web site address or click here: www.leothegreat.weshareonline.org. If you have any questions about the program or about setting up your account, please don't hesitate to call the parish office at 216-661-1006.

Homily...Jesus as Lawgiver?

On Friday I watched the tens of thousands of people walk in the March to Life annual gathering in Washington D.C. Given our "culture of death" as St. John Paul II called it, I hope to begin adding my voice and my presence to this March for Life next year. I never feel that I do or say enough when it comes to pro-life issues though I firmly believe in God our Creator and in the sanctity of all human life.

But it does cause me pause to consider how effective these efforts are in changing the law which has legalized abortion. Would the cause be better served in the long run by a sincere effort not only to change the law (which is good & necessary), but to enter into conversation with others about why we believe life begins at conception and to discuss how we as a country can better value all human life, from the unborn to those born into poverty, illness or injustice. 

Even if the law against abortion were changed tomorrow, we would still have the much harder work of helping others to change their minds & their hearts. As we become older, perhaps the beatitudes of the New Testament become more important than the commandments of the Old Testament. Jesus did not come as a lawmaker. He came to persuade us rather than command us. He came to help us change not only our behavior but our attitudes. We are blessed when we are meek and merciful and when we try to be peacemakers even when persecuted for the sake of righteousness.