Pastor's Blog for October 13, 2019

We celebrated a Memorial Mass for Bernadine Grice last Friday, October 4th. She was described in the obituary in this way: “Bernadine absolutely loved life and loved her family and friends the most!” What a blessing to be full of the joy of life that comes from those who love you. May she Rest In Peace.

We welcome Connor Durell who is being baptized this Sunday. May God bless his parents who will be for him the first and best teachers in the ways of faith.

Enclosed in this bulletin is the Summary Financial Report of St. Leo’s Parish & School which we make available to you every year at this time. Instead of a separate letter to accompany this report, I have a sense that most would prefer simpler rundown which will easily fit in this bulletin column. Some people enjoy looking at the details of such reports and others ask only for the bottom line. So I’ll leave that to you but here’s the bottom line if you’re the less detailed type: we are about where we were last year in terms of our bank balance. We have a very healthy balance of $1,422,684, and this may surprise you given the expensive repairs which we have had to deal with the last couple of years, but these are offset by the consistent increase in the number of students in our parish school. This number is very close to our ending balance of this past fiscal year. We have 2 classrooms for the new kindergarten class as we did last year. While this requires additional teachers and staff, it still allows us to use the extra revenue on repairs associated with the school, such as the work that was done on the school roof and the parking lot used by the school parents who drop off and pick up their children daily.

As you know the roofs of our Parish Community Center and Church building were both replaced (not just repaired) during this past year as well. These were our most expensive capital improvements not only of this past year but of the past few years. In the rectory and office building, we completed the replacement of all windows with more secure, energy efficient ones. In the school building, a new Junior High floor was installed and we converted the athletic storage room above the gym (the old choir loft of the first church!) into an Art classroom. And of course our yearly repair of the three parking lots are included in last year’s expenses.

It is always our hope that we can increase our balance each year and hopefully that can finally begin to happen during this new fiscal year. But I feel very fortunate that our yearly increase in school enrollment, and the steady income from our weekly collections have allowed us to balance our budget each year without major capital campaigns being necessary. Our largest projected expense for this current fiscal year will be the replacement of the metal beams which support the roof of the gym (Lux Hall). Please feel free to see me or a member of the Finance Council with any questions and thank you again for your continued support.

Pastor's Blog for October 6, 2019

So here we are in the first weekend of October. Fall is a great time of the year. My favorite, really. The cool air, the colors of the changing leaves, the excitement about getting candy on the last day of the month. Who wouldn’t like this time of year?

And of course for us at St. Leo’s, it’s a time to look forward to our Parish Festival. It will take place on Friday & Saturday, October 18th & 19th. As you know it is all indoors so we don’t have to worry about inclement weather. We make a healthy profit for just two days but our main reason for the festival is the opportunity it provides to be with each other and to welcome our neighbors here. I’ll say one more time that the Raffle tickets we ask you to sell bring in the biggest profit so my sincere thanks in advance for all you are doing to get them sold. Many people have worked many, many hours in planning for these two days, and many more people will donate many hours during those days with preparation, cleanup and everything in between. Please know how grateful I am to each of you who volunteer your time and who work hard on behalf of our community. It’s what makes St. Leo so Great (see what I did there?).

Congratulations to Marcos Gonzalez who will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation during the 11am Mass. Marcos and his fiancé Stefany are from Venezuela & have only been in the States for a couple of years. They are getting married here in January 2020. We are happy to help Marcos complete his initiation into the Catholic Church and wish him and Stefany Godspeed as they prepare for their wedding.

Last weekend we heard the Gospel challenge us to be mindful of the poor. So this is a good time for me to thank you for doing just that through our Catholic Charities Annual Campaign. I just received word from the Diocese that thanks to the generosity of 252 parishioners at St. Leo’s, our parish has exceeded the goal they gave us as we are at 102.5% of our goal. I am always mindful of your concern for the poor through Catholic Charities and the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. Thank you again for living out the gospel. th

We celebrated Michaela’s 7 birthday this past week. We had ice-cream cake and Death by Chocolate (a dessert that takes a long time to make but which fills you with sweetness...don’t let the name scare you). She received a few more toys which she plays with up and down the hall- ways of the rectory. I can do without the squeaking but for her that’s the best part. I know many of you hear her welcoming you enthusiastically to the rectory office. She’s also warning you to be kind to me as she thinks of herself as the Master(’s) Protector (see what I did there?). I’m hoping that the Pet Blessing she received with your critters this weekend will prove effective. You can check out the pictures taken of our furry friends on our website.

Pastor's Blog for September 29, 2019

Our sympathies to Fr. Vesely on the death of his brother Richard who passed away on September 11th. We will keep him and Father’s family in our prayers.

Congratulations to Matt Stumpf and Jordan Laviano who will be getting married next Saturday, October 5th. May they have a long and joyful marriage.

Several of you have called the rectory office or have told me personally about the full paper recycling bins we have in the parking lot behind the school and parish community center. First, thank you to everyone who brings their used paper products here so that it can all be recycled. We receive a check every month for this plus we are doing good in recycling. We have been aware that the two bins are full however it is beyond our control. Two of the people who drive the trucks to empty them have been on medical leave and so they struggle to keep up. We are however getting a third bin placed there soon so hopefully that will help. If in the future they continue to be full, you can place bags or boxes next to the bins and we will be happy to hold onto them until the bins are emptied again. Just please make sure there is nothing that can blow away.

I had my 6 month follow up visit with my urologist and my PSA blood work continues to show that there is no detectable cancer so I’m grateful for that and for your continued concern. My next visit will be in another 6 months.

I am in talks with the man who is arranging our pilgrimage to the Holy Land for next year. We are pretty confident in the dates we have reserved which is October 5 -15, 2020. So if you are interested in joining us, please reserve those days. We will have a meeting here in November where we will be given more information on the trip, including the cost. So please watch this space for more information in the coming weeks.

I want to include another note concerning the issue of Sponsor Certificates which I’ve covered in the last 2 columns. The certificate lists these as qualifications: 1) You are at least 16 years old; 2) You have received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist & Confirma- tion); 3) If you are married, it was in the Catholic Church; 4) You attend Mass regularly; 5) You will be a good example of the Faith to the person you are sponsoring. By signing this certificate, you attest to the truthfulness of these statements. So if you are asking someone to be a sponsor or godparent for a baptism or confirmation, PLEASE DO NOT ASK SOMEONE WHO IS NOT QUALIFIED. Notice how I used all caps there? It’s important that you invite someone into this relationship who is qualified to act in this role. Again, we are willing to work with someone who has been lax in their faith, but they must be willing to work with us.

Pastor's Blog for September 22, 2019

This Wednesday, September 25th, we will be having a Memorial Mass for Ron Cooke at 5pm. Ron died unexpect-edly at home. He was a longtime parishioner and a faithful member of our choir. He was a man of faith and will be remembered fondly, especially by the members of the choir. Please feel welcome to join us for a Mass in memory of him this Wednesday.

We congratulate Victoria Hahn & Tyler Kirby who are getting married this Saturday. They are both police officers so we owe them gratitude for their courage and service to the community. May they have a long and fruitful marriage.

In last week’s bulletin I wrote about the meaning of a Sponsor or Godparent for someone who is being baptized or confirmed. I also listed the qualifications that are necessary for someone to act in that role. But I also mentioned that we regularly face the problem of someone requesting a sponsor certificate when they are not practicing their faith. The purpose of the sponsor certificate is this: it is a statement by the sponsor and the priest of their parish that they are in fact practicing their faith, and the certificate is given to the priest or parish who will be administering the sacrament. Again, for a list of those qualifications, please see last week’s bulle- tin or pick one up if you didn’t get one. It’s a good idea to keep it somewhere where you can refer to it when needed.

Our dilemma concerns the person who has been asked to be a sponsor but is not practicing their faith. On the one hand, if I give a sponsor certificate to anyone who asks for one, even if they are not qualified, then I am not helping the person they are asked to sponsor. Both the one being asked to be a sponsor as well as myself are really lying about what the sponsor certificate is meant to attest to. On the other hand, if I do not allow such a person to receive a sponsor certificate, then they become angry with the Church and create even a further separation from the community they are meant to belong to and participate in. A very hard choice to make!

So after talking to Deacon Pat & Joan, we have decided to pursue a middle course. When someone requests a sponsor certificate, they will be told that they must meet with either Deacon Pat, Joan or myself. One of us should be available for this purpose on Sunday after the 8am and 11am Masses but we can also meet during the week. At this meeting, we can discuss with the potential sponsor their important role by discussing their current practice of their faith. We understand that many people have been lax practicing their faith for many different reasons but we are willing to work with them in helping them reconnect with the Church so that they can be a sponsor in good conscience. While not everyone will be able to act in this role or willing to make changes in their life, we can at least do everything in our power to help someone live the faith they profess.

Pastor's Blog for September 15, 2019

I would like to address the topic of Sponsor Certificates as it often tends to be a difficult practice for people to under- stand. When a child or adult is being baptized and/or confirmed, it has been a long tradition of the Church for them to have one or more Sponsors. The purpose of a Sponsor is to be an example of the faith to the person they are sponsoring. One can think of the role of a sponsor in the AA program where a person seeking sobriety has a sponsor to help them through the 12 Steps and to be available to them as they work out a life of sobriety. The concept closely resembles Sponsorship in the Church. A person who is being baptized can be helped tremendously by the guidance, prayers, and example of someone who is already living the life of a baptized Christian, and in our case, according to the Catholic Tradition. In order for someone to be this kind of Sponsor, they of course need to be qualified to act in that role and in that unique relationship. Using the example of an AA sponsor, a person starting to live a life of sobriety is not going to be helped by a sponsor who is not sober themselves or not knowledgeable about how the program works. There- fore, the Church wisely puts forth these qualifications for a sacramental Sponsor:

1. They must be at least 16 years old

2. Be a Catholic who has received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist & Confirmation)

3. Leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken

4. Not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized The age requirement calls for the necessary maturity for someone to take on the responsibilities of this role. The reasons for the second qualification should be obvious: that someone has received the sacraments themselves. “Leading a life in harmony with the faith” would include things that the sponsor should and should not be doing. For example, they should be attending Mass weekly. If married, should be in a marriage that is recognized in the Catholic Church (in other words, their marriage should be sacramental which means they were married before a priest), and if not married, they should not be living with someone outside of marriage (cohabitation). These would be the minimum requirements

for living a life in harmony with the faith.
The problem we face regularly is this: people ask some-

one to be a sponsor who is not qualified to act in that role. This becomes awkward for those who have asked and for those who have been asked. Hence the need to make people aware of these qualifications.

Due to space constraints here I will continue to provide more information on how to obtain a sponsor certificate in next week’s bulletin. But I ask you to clip this article out & keep it for future reference. And feel free to share it with anyone you know who may be asked to be a sponsor in the future. Next week I will offer information on how to obtain a sponsor certificate. st

Father Vesely will be here next Saturday, Sept. 21 , to celebrate the 4pm Mass so as always we welcome him and keep him in our prayers.

Pastor's Blog for September 8, 2019

On August 24th we celebrated the funeral Mass for Elsie Rompala. She had been homebound for 3 or 4 years but attended Mass regularly when she was able. She always had a rosary nearby. She was able to be anointed and to receive the last rites when she was in Hospice Care. May she now be reunited with her husband and all those who have passed on to the kingdom of God. 

On Saturday (September 7 ), we held a Memorial Mass for Kathleen Domanski who has been living in Arizona and who passed away on June 13th at the age of 74. In her parish of St. Patrick in Scottsdale, Arizona, Kathleen was a Eucha- ristic Minister and a member of the Art & Environment Committee. She too had a devotion to Mary and to the rosary. She enjoyed being in a Scripture Study for several years and went on a pilgrimage through Israel, including the Sea of Galilee. She also went to Rome where she attended Mass by Pope Benedict. May her life of faith bring her into the joy of heaven.

I am especially saddened by the death of Maria Aponte, who’s Mass of Christian Burial was also this Saturday morning (September 7th). Maria attended daily Mass here and was enthusiastic in her Catholic faith. She made breakfast for us on many Sundays and would frequently bring us food for after morning Mass. Maria had a very large statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her living room and prayed the rosary devoutly. She was a very kind and holy woman whom I will miss very much along with many other parishioners. As the Church prays at the end of the Funeral Mass, “We look forward to the day when we will see her again and enjoy her friendship.”

Congratulations to the family of Jacob Kropp who is being baptized this Sunday after the 11am Mass. May he know the joy that comes from a life of faith in the God who loves him.

Our congratulations to Brittany Popa and Nicholas Tatoczenko who are being married next Saturday, Septem- ber 14th. May they enjoy many happy years together as husband and wife.

As you can see, once Labor Day has passed, the pace really picks up here at St. Leo’s. Our school is in session and the days get busier. But we need to be thankful for our rest and enjoyment of the summer months and to pray that the busyness of this time of year does not cause us to forget the Lord.

Just a reminder for you to pick up your raffle tickets in the vestibule of the church. Your help in selling them is very much appreciated as it is the largest part of our fundraising activity for the Parish Festival which is just a few weeks away. Maria Aponte, whom I mentioned above, was anxious to make sure we had her raffle tickets, even when she was very ill! I know the Festival Committee has already been hard at work on preparing a good time for all of us. It’s always good to have something to look forward to and there are many things to enjoy during this favorite time of the year. Be sure to enjoy every day of it.

Pastor's Blog for September 1, 2019

Well August certainly flew by and here we are in September already. So here’s what’s going on as we say goodbye to Summer and prepare to welcome the Fall....This Sunday (September 1st) I will be giving a special blessing to Ray and Jan Norris who are celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary. They have been longtime parish- ioners here at St. Leo’s and we are happy to celebrate with them on this special day. Please be sure to congratulate them when you see them and thank them for the example of their faith and faithfulness.

Our Labor Day Mass will take place on Monday, September 2nd at 9am. As you enjoy the long weekend, please remember to thank the Lord for the gift of work which allows us to share in God’s creativity.

Tuesday, September 3rd, is the first day of School for our students here at St. Leo’s. We welcome back our return- ing students and we especially welcome our new students which brings our total enrollment up to 285, 25 more students than last year, which means we needed to add another class to our kindergarten grade. So we now have 2 kindergartens and 2 first grades, which we haven’t had here in many years. This is due in large part to our Principal, Mrs. Denise Burns, and to our Tuition Manager, Cindy Funari. And of course they depend upon the teachers and school staff who not only give our students an excellent education but do so in the atmosphere of faith. God’s bless- ings on them all as they begin this new year.

We offer our congratulations to Ryan McNamara and to Melissa Kitko who will be joined as one in the Sacrament of Matrimony next Saturday, September 7th. They are a wonderful couple who live their faith and witness to it by their presence at weekend Mass. I look forward to celebrat- ing this wonderful occasion with them and ask for your prayers as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

Last week I mentioned that some parishioners were interested in a ministry to the dying and to the bereaved. But I also want to remind you that we hope to offer spiritual help when someone is seriously ill or advanced in age (I’ll leave that specific number up to you!). So often we get called when someone is in need of the last rites or has died but we hope to be present to the sick and to the dying long before that time. Many of you ask to be anointed when you are here at Mass and I am always happy to celebrate that sacrament with you. But please know that you are encouraged to call on us when you or a family member are experiencing a serious illness so that we can offer you our prayers, the sacraments and our support in any way you need it. I know that times such as these can be stressful and there are so many details to attend to, but we hope you consider reaching out to us so that we might be there to support you before it becomes an emergency situation.

Pastor's Blog for August 25, 2019

Last Wednesday we celebrated the Mass of ChristianBurial for Raymond Repko. He was a Police Officer for Shaker Heights and when he retired from the Police Depart- ment he joined the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. He had a strong sense of family and enjoyed giving flowers and candy to others. He especially enjoyed the Thanksgiving, Christmas & Easter gatherings with his family. May he rest in Christ’s peace.

Now that the bell tower roof has been replaced, we arefinally able to repair the hole in the ceiling of the church up against the back brick wall above the crucifix. Along with that repair, we are able to paint the ceiling of the church, both of which are covered by insurance. All of that is scheduled to happen starting October 22nd (since we have to avoid numer- ous weddings which are scheduled for September & October). The scaffolding will be moved from one section to another so my guess is that there will be pews taped off according to what section they are working on. I’m sure you won’t mind this minor and temporary inconvenience during this project. More information will be given as that time draws near.

There have been some parishioners who have attended anumber of workshops on the “Sacred Art of Living & Dying.” They are now in the process of discerning how they can best use the knowledge they have gained in a ministry for our parish community. Presently they are looking at reaching out to parishioners who are in a hospice situation or trying to tend to those who are grieving after the loss of a loved one. What I’d like to know from you is what would you find most beneficial at these times? When a loved one enters hospice, how can we be present to you and to them to offer support? Would you find it helpful to know there is someone who will just listen to you or to walk with you on that journey, whether it is long or short? How can the Church offer its sacramental ministry through Holy Communion, Anointing of the Sick, and the Last Rites? Or are you in need of our support after a loved one has died? Would a Bereavement Support Group be helpful to you? Or would you just like to know there is someone who could walk with you when you experience that change in your life? We are looking to see how we can best serve you but we need to ask what your needs are before we offer our ministry to you. Please feel free to write me or Deacon Pat or Joan a note, send an email, call the parish office, or see us before or after Mass to give us your thoughts.

I will be (cautiously) taking vacation as of this Sundaythrough next Saturday. Still mindful of how I became ill during my last vacation in May, I’ll be hoping for a relaxing and healthy week. My thanks to Fr. O’Grady and Deacon Pat for doubling up this weekend so I can get away. I’ll be looking for the right opportunity to share with you in a homily what I hope to experience while away. All I can say is that it is of biblical proportions...

Pastor's Blog for August 18, 2019

On August 9th we celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial for James Jackson, Sr. who was 89 years old. He was faithful to attending Mass and made sure his children received the sacraments as well. We extend our sympathies to his children, Jim, Debbie & Linda, and as always, I assured them of our prayers for their father.

We also had a funeral Mass on the day after, Saturday,for Gloria Karich who died on July 13th, surrounded by her family and best friend. Her obituary mentioned that “she went to the Lord” and how good it is to see that her faith was noted in that obit. She prayed the rosary and had a devotion to St. Jude. We offer our condolences to her husband John, to her daughters Denise & Colleen, to her step-daughter Holly and to all her family members and loved ones.

Last Monday we celebrated a Memorial Mass forRichard Bernacki who had been an usher here at St. Leo’s for many years. He too was a man of faith who would often be seen with a rosary, especially when he became homebound. He was described as generous, simple, gentle and calm. He enjoyed traveling with his wife of 29 years who died in 2004. May he too rest in peace.

Finally we remember August Bublavy whose funeralMass took place this past Wednesday. I heard of Augie even before I met him here at St. Leo’s because he knew my dad through bowling. But when I met him I knew he too was a man whose faith was important to him. He was a lector and really proclaimed the Word of God well, but he also lived that Word to the best of his ability. We were able to pray the last rites and the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him at the hospital and I had spoken to him just hours before he was taken to the emergency room. He will be missed. We pray for him and for his children, John, Joe, Mary & Paul.

We congratulate Jim & Lucille Huzl who will becelebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary this weekend during the 4pm Mass, with Fr. Vesely as the celebrant. Jim & Lucille are to be seen in the same pew week after week and have been faithful to the Lord as they have been to each other. They are often seen smiling as it’s no wonder as you can see how happy they are together. We are happy to pray with them that they may have many more years together.

We also congratulate Breanne Vedda who will receivethe Sacrament of Confirmation during the 11am Mass this Sunday. She is enthusiastic in learning more about her Catho- lic Faith and is so happy to complete her initiation into the Church. May the Holy Spirit give her the gifts that will ena- ble her to be a gift to the Church.

By this weekend you should see that our baptismal fonthas returned and has been enlarged with some pillars that provide flowing water. The water there will be blessed so feel free to use it to bless yourself as a reminder of your baptism.

Pastor's Blog for August 11, 2019

We have our parish picnic today after the 11am Mass. Ifyou are attending that Mass, it’s a short walk to pick up a hamburger or hotdog. If you attend the 4pm Mass on Saturday or the 8am Mass on Sunday, please consider making the trip again to join us. We’ll have plenty of tables and chairs set up. In case of inclement weather, we’ll move inside and I’ll let you know that at Mass. My thanks to everyone who coordinated this and to our maintenance staff for setting up and taking down.

Another reminder that you can purchase beautiful olivewood carvings in the vestibule of the church before or after Mass this weekend. They make great gifts and help the people in Bethlehem where Our Lord was born.

This Thursday, August 15th, is the feast of the Assumption of Mary. It has been our centuries-long belief that Mary was taken body and soul into the kingdom of heaven at the end of her life and so was the first to experience the fullness of the resurrection after her Son. It reminds us that this is promise for us as well. Mass on this Holy Day of Obligation will be celebrated at 8:30am and at 7pm.

While I’ll be celebrating the morning Mass on that day, Iwon’t be able to greet those coming to the evening Mass as I will be joining in the Feast that takes place every year in Little Italy in honor of Mary’s Assumption. They have a Mass at Holy Rosary Church which is in the heart of Little Italy as well as a procession of a statue of Mary on Mayfield Road. But there is also a great feast with delicious Italian food and desserts from Thursday through Sunday. The square pizza that can be found there reminds me of the true Italian pizza that my mom and grandmother used to make. They also have cavatelli, meatballs, sausage sandwiches and so much more. If you’re Italian like me it’s an obligation to attend and if you’re not lucky enough to be Italian, it’s at least an oppor- tunity for you to wish you were. I should wear my T-shirt that has a word we Italians like to use when someone apologizes to us for some offense toward us: “Fuhgettaboutit.”

Fr. Vesely will be celebrating the 4pm Mass next Satur- day, August 17th in honor of the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Jim & Lucille Huzl. I’ll mention them again next weekend but as always we welcome Fr. Vesely back to pray with us.

The dentist told me that I may have to have my upperwisdom teeth taken out (which I really depend on as the source of my wisdom). I had my lower wisdom teeth taken out when I was in 8th grade and I remember it very well. In those days they put a needle in your arm of Sodium Pentot- hol. When I woke up after the procedure, I was a bit loopy from this medicine. The dentist said, “I heard you are going into the seminary.” And my rather loud response was, “Yep, I’m going to be a preacher!” My poor mother.