Pastor's Blog for October 14, 2018

On October 3rd we had the funeral Mass for Thomas Dubiel, brother to a couple of parishioners: Brian & Denis. Tom loved his two grandchildren and they brought up the gifts at the offertory time of the Mass. Tom enjoyed playing the lottery & it paid off for him! Tom enjoyed collecting spoons which people would bring to him from the various places they visited. But Tom will be especially remembered for his kindness to others. May he rest in God’s peace.

We also had the Mass of Christian Burial for Thomas Emery. Tom was 91 years old & was very devoted to his family. He had 16 grandchildren & 5 great-grandchildren. He was also a very religious man who attended numerous retreats, and was a member of the Holy Name Society (a fraternal organization of men). He had a devotion to Mary & prayed the rosary. He read Scripture daily and prayed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His children remember him praying with them every night when they were young. May he receive his eternal reward.

The priests of the Diocese (except for myself) will be away this week for our Presbyterial Convocation (a “calling together of the priests”) which we attend every other year at Sawmill Creek for 3 days. While I will be with them only in spirit, I ask that we all be with them in prayer as we seek to better serve you, the People of God.

I am so grateful to the many parishioners who have worked hard these last few weeks & months to prepare for our two day Fall Festival next Saturday & Sunday. It is a good time with delicious food, enjoyable music, games for the children & fellowship for all. I look forward to seeing many parishioners there and hope that our neighbors will join us as well.

Included in this bulletin is my annual letter to the parishioners along with our Summary Financial Report for the fiscal year of July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. We were actually almost $87,000 under budget (i.e., a surplus) due to our increased school enrollment (thanks to our Principal, Mrs. Burns). But the budget for this current fiscal year will have us tapping into our capital improve- ment funds to pay for the necessary replacement of the roofs on the church and parish center and some costly repairs on the gym. But you have been so faithful in your financial support of the parish as our collections have remained the same (many parishes lose between 2 & 4% per year). Thank you for your contributions especially to our capital improvements fund. Please feel free to ask me or a member of the Finance Council any questions you may have (their names are on the bottom of the Summary Financial Report) and pray that we may be good stewards of our parish goods.

Pastor's Blog for October 7, 2018

During the last week of September, we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for three parishioners. Ann Sazpansky has been a long time member of St. Leo’s and was married to her husband John for 68 years. We extend our sympathies to John and to their three children, Suzanne, Joan, & Scott. The card with Ann’s date of birth and date of death showed a picture of her patron, St. Ann, who is seen helping her daughter Mary to study. Ann Sazpansky studied life and studied faith. May St. Ann, the grandmother of Jesus and the mother of Mary, pray for her who, like them, were faithful to God.

On Friday of that week I had a funeral service for Caroline Gabrenya who, ironically, was also married to her husband Jack for 68 years. We offer our condolences to their children, James, Dianne & Karen. Caroline was remembered fondly by her grandchildren & great-grandchildren. May she rest in the peace of the Risen Lord.

On Saturday, September 29th, we also prayed for Jack Pauloski who died after a very long and progressive illness. Jack was married to his wife Grace for 61 years (again, so many years of married life for these three people!) and Grace would spend hours with him every day when he could no longer be cared for at home. Jack was an engineer who, along with Grace, devised the pulley system that we use to hang the different colored banners on the back wall of the sanctuary underneath the crucifix. He was a gentle giant - a tall man in body & faith. We pledge our prayers to Grace and their three children, Therese, Thomas & Matthew.

After Mass today I will finish up packing for our trip to Italy. Ten parishioners will be joining me for a tour of Rome, Assisi, Florence, Venice & Milan. We leave on Monday so we ask your prayers for a safe trip. Be assured that we will be praying for all of you each day when we visit the many churches and basilicas. I may try to smuggle some pasta back into the US but the smell of it in my suitcase may give me away.

It’s so great to hear our choir again after their summer hiatus. They spend many hours preparing to enhance our Sunday worship during the 11am Mass. Do you feel that you have been given the gift of a good singing voice (or has someone told you that you have)? Then please consider joining the choir by talking to our Music Director, Mickey Stitt. She (and we) would love to have you join that gifted group of parishioners.

Congratulations to Joe & Mina Rolando on their 25th wedding anniversary, celebrated last Saturday at the 4pm Mass. Mina works in our rectory office and parish center and is a joy to have around. We wish them both many happy years together.

Pastor's Column for September 30, 2018

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Emma Hohmeier on Saturday, September 22nd. Emma was 95 years old and was the mother of Jan Meister, Kathy Ciacchi and Don Hohmeier, as well as a daughter named Judy Bizjak, whose funeral Mass we celebrated here earlier this year. Emma had a devotion to Mary and always carried a rosary around with her. She also had a fondness for angels and so we pray that “the angels may lead her to paradise” as we sing in our song of Final Farewell at the end of the funeral Mass. May Mary, who inter- ceded for her in life & at the hour of her death, “show un- to her the fruit of her womb, Jesus.”

Since Fr. Vesely is fond of saying the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel whenever he celebrates Mass, it’s good timing that he will be offering the 4pm Mass this weekend on the feast of the the Archangels (Sts. Michael, Gabriel & Raphael). We’re glad he’s doing so well and that he’s able to join us this month and next.

Something funny I read in our Spring News & Views Newsletter earlier this year: a parishioner named Armand Venditti recalls the time that Fr. Lux (our founding Pastor) told the Parish Council that we needed a fence behind the houses on Silverdale that adjoin our parish property because parishioners were extending their yards 10-15 feet onto the parish’s property with their gardens and their swing sets. When Father Lux made the announcement from the pulpit though, he told them that the Parish Council decided this! Did I tell you that the Parish Council recently decided to give me a raise? (Just kidding...only the Bishop can do that, and he recently did. Now I can buy desert when I go out to eat).

Michaela turned 6 this past Wednesday. When she was born, she was just about 1 pound and so small I could carry her & scoop her up with one hand. But even then (as now), she would try to chase after Abby the cat, even though Abby was much faster (& at the time) much larger than Michaela. Someone who came into the rectory office recently said, “She has a big bark for such a small dog!” So true. But she and Abby look forward to the Pet Blessing given by Deacon Pat next Saturday, October 6th, at 10am. It will be at the newly landscaped shrine area (weather permitting) or inside the church vestibule. I recently read this on a church sign: “If cats could text you back, they wouldn’t.” If you have a cat, you know what that means. May St. Francis of Assisi (whose feast is on Thursday, October 4th) pray for them and for us.

Pastor's Column for September 23, 2018

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on September 11th for David Jerson. He was described as the “strength of the family” & was known to be generous. The family prays that he may join his wife, son, sister & broth- er-in-law in God’s kingdom.

Ann Aron’s funeral was on September 14th. She had celebrated her 99th birthday just a few months ago with family and those at Joshua Tree assisted living. She had a devotion to Mary and to Mary’s mother, St. Ann, after whom she is named. She worked as an LPN nurse taking care of others. We extend our sympathies to her daughter and faithful parishioner, Mary Lou Neuendorf. Ann had 3 children, 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and 6 great-great grandchildren. So much life comes from the love of two people.

The funeral Mass for Helen Hadacek was on Septem- ber 17th. She worked hard but then experienced illness for many years. I always begin a funeral homily by extending the sympathies of the parishioners of St. Leo and by assur- ing them of our prayers and support during the time of loss. Please say a simple quiet prayer for these 3 deceased as you read this.

Fr. Vesely continues to do very well at Mount Alverna however recently one of his knees started to swell up again. He seems to be doing better and so hopes to celebrate the 4pm Mass here next Saturday, September 29th. We will be going to the annual clergy clambake at St. Christopher in Rocky River this Sunday. I like to take him there because he doesn’t like clams so he gives me his. I could eat several dozen in one sitting. I can just hear my doctor now...

Our new PSR Director, Joann Deranek is doing a great job. The students and teachers and some of their parents will be celebrating Mass this Monday at 7pm. I use the opportunity of a smaller group to talk about the meaning of the many symbols, gestures, postures & parts of the Mass. They gather around the altar where they can have a close up view of what is happening. I’m grateful that their parents continue their religious education. My thanks to those who sacrifice time to teach our Catholic Faith to the students. They are true evangelists and their work is important. God bless them all this school year.

Michaela will be going to two places this week which she is not fond the vet for annual shots, and to the groomer for her haircut. I thought women liked to have their hair done. I wonder if she gossips with the other female dogs when she’s there. I know she barks and fusses when anyone comes in the store with their pet. She really wants all the attention for herself. I have no idea where she gets that from...

Pastor's Column for September 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

Pastor's Column for September 9, 2018

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

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

Pastor's Column for September 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor's Column for August 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

Pastor's Column for August 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor's Column for August 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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