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. 

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.