Pastor's Blog for November 11, 2018

OK, so I know I goofed up last weekend when I wrote in my column that we were having the blessing of throats after all the Masses even though the feast of St. Blasé isn’t until February. But in my defense, I was reading our month- ly “Diocesan Memorandum” before typing the article & it was giving the liturgical dates for 2019, one of which concerned the blessing of throats on February 3rd. So my mind just skipped ahead a few months. Secondly, the Deacon is suppose to stop me from making any mistakes. He obviously failed in that responsibility. But I can assure you that he pointed it out to me afterward.

I understand that John Sabol will be preparing a webcast of the presentation he gave on the history of our parish so that we can make it available on our website. That’s great news to me as I had the flu that week but heard that it was really well done. But John discovered something as he was preparing for the presentation. The last paragraph of the deed to the parish property which was executed in 1949 said that the name of the parish is “St. Leo V” (as in St. Leo the Fifth) instead of saying “St. Leo the Great” who was actually St. Leo I (the first). John said that after looking up information on St. Leo V, he was no saint, and wasn’t very great! Since it’s in a legal document, I suppose someone could argue that the property really doesn’t belong to us. But if they want the property back, we’ll give them all the bills that go along with it!

So we bring our 70th Anniversary Year to a close with the feast of St. Leo the Great this weekend (celebrated every year on November 10th). My thanks again to John Sabol, not only for his great history lesson, but for the work he & his wife Jeannie did on the display case in the vestibule. He has updated the pictures & documents there to show Christ- mases from past years at our parish, so be sure to stop there & take a look. This week we will draw a winner for the $1000.00 Sweepstakes Raffle prize so that’s a good way to end this anniversary celebration.

This would be a good time to let you know that because we made very little profit on that Sweepstakes Raffle (only about $350), we are going to tweak it a bit for next year. We will start to sell the new raffle tickets on Saturday, Decem- ber 1st. The first drawing will be January 1st. It will run until November 10th (feast of St. Leo). We will continue to have a $100 weekly winner (and again, you can win more than once in the year!). We will have (5) $200 winners on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and 4th of July instead of having a $1000.00 drawing on Easter and Christmas. We will still have a $1000.00 winner though on the feast of St. Leo. Many people love to play this raffle & they make wonderful gifts, especially as stocking stuffers at Christmas.

Pastor's Blog for November 4, 2018

Congratulations to the parents of Xavier David Cintula who was baptized last Sunday. May his patron, St. Frances Xavier, and all the saints, pray for him as he is raised in the Catholic faith.

Last Tuesday many people were gathered for the funeral Mass of Bill (Boleslaw) Skora. I told them that I met Bill on January 1, 2014. I remember the day well as that New Year’s Day was my first day as Pastor of St. Leo’s. Bill had attended Mass & introduced himself to me afterward, warmly welcoming me to the parish. I have since learned that Bill had a great devotion to the saints (whose feast we just celebrated a couple of days after his funeral Mass) and especially to Mary, the Mother of God (whose feast we celebrate on January 1st, again the day I first met Bill). Bill prayed the rosary often and with Sharon, his wife of 46 years, actively passed on the faith to their 4 children. Bill will be missed by many & we join the saints in praying for him as we remember him and all the Faithful Departed on November 2nd & throughout the month of November.

We welcome Father Vesely as he celebrates the 4pm Mass this weekend and as we offer our birthday greetings to him on his 90th birthday (officially November 8th). Fr. Vesely gave us a number of relics (small pieces of bone or flesh taken from the bodies of saints) and we have placed them in wooden cabinets which hang to the right of the Sacred Heart Statue and to the left of the St. Anne with Mary statue in the back of the church. We are blessed to have them as reminders of those men & women whose saintly lives give us inspiration. Please be sure to thank Fr. Vesely for the gift of these relics. He will join Deacon Pat & I as we bless throats in honor of St. Blaise after the 4pm Mass on Saturday (Deacon Pat & I will offer the throat blessing after the Sunday Masses as well).

Since we now have a Deacon as part of our parish community, it made sense to have a more permanent chair for him next to the presider’s chair in the sanctuary. So Deacon Pat will inherit my “old” chair and a new one has been built for the priest. I spoke to the Parish Council about using the opportunity to re-stain the wood in the sanctuary as it does not match the medium oak we have in the rest of the church, such as on the pews, the stained glass window frames, the frame & rear doors of the vestibule, etc. We are using some of the funds that were left to us in a will last year and I believe it will make the sanctuary much richer in its beauty. The work will be done this week. It’s a good way to conclude our 70th Anniversary next weekend as we celebrate the feast of our patron, St. Leo the Great, on November 10th. We also have a relic of St. Leo the Great which will be on display near his statue to the right of the tabernacle. May St. Leo and all the Saints pray for us!

Pastor's Blog for October 28, 2018

While I was away this month, the parish celebrated the funeral of Timothy Beran on October 9th. Father O’Grady presided at the funeral assisted by Deacon Pat Berigan who also preached the homily. We extend our condolences and prayers to those who knew him.

A huge thank you to all the parishioners who volun- teered to help in some way at the Parish Festival. And thanks to all those who attended and participated in the children’s games, the raffles, the meals and the opportunity to spend time with fellow parishioners & neighbors. We seemed to have great crowds on both nights (despite Satur- day’s rain & wind). And the power went out on Saturday just long enough for us to remember whose really the boss...the electric company. Gratefully we had power back on before we were able to say, “Now what are we going to do?” I know that many people worked many long, hard hours so that the rest of us could just enjoy those two days and I am grateful to each one of them. The food was deli- cious, the music was entertaining & the company delightful. We’ll let you know about the profits but we expect it to be about the same as in past years. My thanks to the festival team who did the planning & to all who worked in any way to make it happen.

Our Associate Musician, Julie Slattery, showed me a bulletin column a couple of weeks ago written by a pastor who sadly had to say goodbye to their musician as she want- ed to spend more time with her family. And now I have to write a similar note about Julie who also wishes to spend more time with her aging mother and of course more time with her new grandchild. Though Julie has been with us only a short time, her beautiful voice and her gifted musical ability added so much to our music ministry, while her gen- tle spirit added much to our community. This will be her last weekend at St. Leo’s so let us express our thanks to her & wish her well as she devotes more time now to her family.

With that sad note comes also a joyful announcement that we have another Associate Musician who will be added to our music ministry as of this week. Her name is Mary Piechowski, and these are her words of introduction:

“I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic schools. Our faith was always the most important part of our lives. I earned a Bachelor and Master Degree in Piano Performance and hoped to be a Professor. I was teaching at a college in Port Huron, MI when I attended an event called the "New Pentecost Project" with Praise and Worship music, adoration and dynamic preaching. I had a re-conversion that evening and decided to pursue music ministry in hopes to share that type of experience with others. That brought me to Sacred Heart which is on an island as the Detroit river opens up to Lake Erie, called Grosse Ile. I have loved working in this ministry for my five years there. I got married last week to a man from Fairview Park, OH and that brought me to this area. He is a High School science teacher and football coach. We are very excited to begin our life together here in Ohio and at this Parish.”
Welcome Mary!

Pastor's Blog for October 21, 2018

Though I’ll be back with you by the time you are reading this, I am writing this column during our last night in Venice. We leave in the morning for Milan, the largest diocese in Italy, and a place I am especially look- ing forward to visiting as I’ve never been there before & it is the place where St. Augustine, a great theologian who has had a tremendous influence in our Catholic faith, was baptized by another great theologian, St. Ambrose. Augustine led quite a sensual life before his conversion, and regretted only that he waited too long before coming to know and love the Lord (“Too late have I come to love thee, O Lord”). The other connection with Milan is that Pope Paul VI, who was canonized last Sunday (October 14th), was the Archbishop of Milan. Pope St. Paul VI was pope from 1963 until his death (on my birthday, August 6th) in 1978. He is known for implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which ended in 1965. Under him, Mass began to be celebrated in the vernacular (which of course is English for us) instead of Latin, and there were hundreds of other changes in the Church which has allowed it to find its place in the modern world. Pope Paul’s full name? Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (you have to love the Italians for their long & poetic names). It was Pope St. John XXIII who was the Archbishop here in Venice before becoming Pope. I have seen and prayed last week at the tombs of St. Paul VI, St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, all of whom were popes during my lifetime. I just realized how much information I have just given you here about Venice, Milan, 3 Popes & 5 Saints, but bear with me as I mention one more name. Along with Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis also canonized an Archbishop from El Salvador (where the Diocese of Cleveland has had a mission of priests & nuns for many years). Archbishop Oscar Romano spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. In 1980, he himself was assassinated (shot) while celebrating Mass. Though we have heard so much recently of the sins of church leaders, it is important to remember that there have been so many more who have reached sainthood by their love of God and neighbor. I am so grateful to have been reminded of this while walking the ground where many of them walked and lived and served the Church. I’ll share more with you in the coming weeks.

While it’s always hard to come to the end of a vaca- tion, this time I have our Parish Festival to look forward to. What a great opportunity for us to enjoy one another’s company. As we say Arrivederci to Italy, we say to you that it’s good to be home.

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.