Pastor's Blog for December 16, 2018

Our St. Leo’s Seniors really know how to party. They had their annual Christmas Party at Copper Stone Catering & Event Center & it was a wonderful meal accompanied by a DJ who provided the expected Christmas music. Everyone seemed to be enjoying each other’s company and I was happy to be a part of it. If you are a Senior, you may want to consider joining them. They meet twice a month in our Parish Community Center and it’s a time for companionship and mutual support. And of course every gathering includes food to enjoy. They have guest speakers and entertainers from time to time & seem to have a lot of fun. Please call Barb Mudrey if you’re interested (216-398-7709) or the Rectory Office (216-661-1006).

Several people have been coming to the video series on Monday evenings during Advent where Bishop Robert Barron explains the parts of the Mass. It really helps us to engage more in this central act of Catholic Worship when we grow in our understanding of what it’s all about. We’ll have our last viewing this Monday at 7pm so feel free to join us even if you haven’t seen the other 2 videos. This one will be on the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the 2nd part of the Mass. If you would like to view the videos at home, you’re more than welcome to come to the Rectory Office & request them (they’re DVD’s). We’d be very happy to have people watch them on their own time & perhaps can even invite some others over to view them with you.

This week my cousin Father Dan Schlegel will be joining my sister and I in making homemade ravioli & soup noodles, the staple of the Schmitz Christmas (& Easter) family meals. My mom was the real expert at these Italian dishes though & even though she taught us how to make it before she died, we still can’t get them to taste exactly like hers. Of course her recipe was typically Italian which means they don’t use measuring cups or worry about ounces or and of those details. It’s pretty much “a dash of this & a dash of that.” Maybe it doesn’t call for a bottle of wine but we’re trying to be as creative as she was. Better to just stick to the ingredi- ents she gave us, even if we’re not sure of their exact measurements. But I’m glad that the recipe and the tradition has stayed with the family all these years & that my cousin wants in. We should probably charge him for the privilege since it is proprietary information but it is Christmas after all. Of course he’ll have to do the kneading and the more tedious parts like forking the raviolis after the cheese has been placed between the layers of dough. But that’s the cost of being included in secret family recipes. Hope he’s up to the task.

Our 4th week of Advent this year will be very short since the final week of Advent which begins with our Masses next weekend is interrupted by Christmas Eve next Monday. That also means we have less time to get our Christmas shopping done. I’m glad I have a lot of elves to help with mine.

Pastor's Blog for December 9, 2018

Back in October, parishioner John Sabol did a presentation on the history of our parish which was very interesting. John was kind enough to make a short video (about 20 minutes long) of the presentation so that you can watch it at your leisure. It can be found (with all sorts of other useful information) at our website (leothegreat.org). Our thanks to him for all the work he put into that & to him and his wife Jeanne for the great work they did with the display of old pictures (currently from Christmas past at St. Leo’s) during our 70th Parish Anniversary.

Just a reminder that we started selling the new Great Sweepstakes raffle tickets on December 1st. We have a $100 weekly winner (and again, you can win more than once in the year!). We will have $200 winners on New Year’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and 4th of July and we will still have a $1000.00 winner on the feast of St. Leo. Many people love to play this raffle & they make wonderful gifts, especially as stocking stuffers at Christmas.

I had hoped that Fr. Vesely would be able to celebrate one of our Christmas Eve Masses but he is already “booked” for 3 Christmas Masses at Mount Alverna! We will try to have him here again soon but it depends on several sched- ules working together. In the mean time, do keep him in your prayers especially as we celebrate Christmas soon.

As I type this, our maintenance people are putting up Christmas decorations in the rectory. This is my favorite time of the year. But it can also be a very sad time for those who are ill or for those experiencing a loss around the holidays. So while we welcome the joy of the season in our celebration of the Lord’s birth, it is also important to remember those who are having a hard time around the holidays. I mentioned some “CareNotes” that we have made available in the vestibule of the church, in the rectory office and in the Parish Community Center. We have recently ordered ones that have to do with grief, especially around the holidays. Please feel free to take one of these for yourself or give it to someone whom you think may find it helpful.

Please keep in your prayers William Wachenschwanz and Joanne Marsik, both parishioners of St. Leo’s, whose funeral services were held this past Wednesday. Geraldine Piotrowski’s Funeral Service will be held this Wednesday. May they rest in peace until the Lord comes again.

This week my step mother turns 99. I had Thanksgiving with her and my dad and they both look great and are doing quite well. I’m just glad that their Christmas tree decorating days are over. I remember when Santa used to decorate our tree when we were young. He used quite a bit of tinsel (remember that?) that would stick all over you. But I’m sure my dad was glad he didn’t have to do the work himself. The good old days.

Pastor's Blog for December 2, 2018

We have had 4 funerals since Thanksgiving. How hardit is for the families to experience the loss of a loved one at the first holiday, especially Thanksgiving & Christmas, fol- lowing their death. But God’s grace helps us to retain our gratitude for the life of those we love and to live in hope of their resurrection.

So first we remember Charles Rooks & extend our sym- pathy to his family. One of Chuck’s children (also named Chuck) lost his wife in December of last year so this is an especially difficult time for him. May they rest in peace.

Robert Treska had been ill for 1 1⁄2 years but persevered in his prayer and his hope. He was devoted to his wife of 46 years, Dianne, and to his 3 children & 4 grandchildren. They had made a blanket with the pictures of the grandchildren on it so that he could look at them when in the hospital. May Bob find freedom from illness & death in God’s kingdom.

Bernice Kilcoyne was a very active parishioner of St. Leo’s. She was a sacristan, and she was involved in Bereave- ment ministry, among other things. She had a kind and gentle disposition and was at Mass whenever she was able. I was amazed to see her walking around at our parish festival with her walker, accompanied by her son Chris. We extend our sympathy to Chris and pledge our prayers for her.

Carolyn Geniusz was a teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel and was named “Teacher of the Year” in 1996-97. She found her joy not only in teaching for over 33 years but also in being with her husband Ken of 54 years & her 3 grandchildren. May she rest in God’s peace.

As we begin the joyful season of Advent this weekend, please remember that there will be a wonderful video on the Mass shown on 3 Monday evenings from 7-8pm in the Parish Community Center starting this Monday, December 3rd. These videos will really help you to better understand and appreciate this prayer that is so central to our Catholic life. Questions about the Mass will be welcomed. Come spend just one hour for 3 weeks learning more about our great faith.

Next Saturday, December 8th, is the feast of the Immac- ulate Conception of Mary, a holy day of obligation (even though it falls on a Saturday as she is the Patroness of our country under this title). Mass will be at 7pm on Friday, December 7th and at 8:30am on Saturday, December 8th. Our normal 4pm Saturday Mass will still be celebrated on December 8th but that will not fulfill the holy day obligation.

I know we just finished our Thanksgiving holiday but want to offer you the times of our Christmas Masses so that you can plan ahead as you make plans with your family & friends to celebrate this great feast. As we had last year, we will have a 4pm, 7pm & 10pm Mass on Christmas Eve and one Mass at 11am on Christmas Day. Yes, our “Midnight Mass” is at 10pm. Yes, we still get calls asking if our Midnight Mass is at 10pm. Catholics can be a funny lot.

Pastor's Blog for November 25, 2018

The Church has a liturgical year that is different from the calendar year that begins on January 1st. The beginning of the Church’s liturgical year is always the First Sunday of Advent, which this year begins next Sunday, December 2nd. So the Sunday before Advent (today), the Church concludes its liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the King. This feast reminds us of the end of time when Christ our King will return and human history will be brought to an end. That may sound a bit frightening, but for us as people of faith, it is the best of news for when Christ comes again (also referred to as his “second coming,”), there will be a defini- tive end of evil and the experience of nothing but goodness and love in God’s kingdom. This is what we hope for, pray for, and work for. It is the culmination of the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus proclaims. Even the first couple of weeks of Advent carries this theme until we get closer to Christmas and recall the first coming of Jesus when he was born among us. So look for the Advent candles and the purple color and the time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas).

It’s always good to use the time of Advent preparation to grow in the understanding & appreciation of our faith. Since there is nothing more important to the experience of faith than the Mass which we celebrate every week, we want to provide you with the opportunity to learn more about how the Mass came to be & why it is so central to our Catholic way of life. Bishop Robert Barron, the greatest evangelist in our country today, has produced another series of videos on the Mass. This series is sure to hit home as we all pray the Mass every week (or more). I can’t speak more highly about Bishop Barron or his videos as they are a fascinating look at why Catholicism is so rich in its history and meaning. We will view these videos in the Parish Community Center on Mondays, December 3, 10 & 17 from 7pm-8pm. I know that you will walk away with a much better understanding of the Mass & it will change the way you worship here every week! Here is some information on Bishop Robert Barron:

Bishop Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He is also the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award-winning documentary about the Catholic Faith, which aired on public television.

Bishop Barron is a #1 Amazon bestselling author & has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology & the spiritual life. He is a religion correspondent for NBC and has also appeared on FOX News, CNN, and EWTN.

Bishop Barron's pioneering work in evangelizing through the new media led Francis Cardinal George to describe him as “one of the Church's best messengers.”

Pastor's Blog for November 18, 2018

Johann Artbauer’s funeral Mass was celebrated last Saturday, November 10th. Johann had 4 children, 6 grand- children & 6 great-grandchildren. She also has 2 sisters. Johann had a devotion to the Sacred Heart, St. Michael, & St. Christopher. During this month of November we remem- ber her and all the faithful departed from our parish whose funerals we celebrated this past year. Their names can be seen on the table by the baptism font, along with a book you can use to write in the names of deceased loves ones you would like us to remember this month. Finally, there is a basket there with the All Souls Day envelopes you filled out with names of those we are praying for during November.

In the rectory office, the Parish Community Center and the vestibule of the church, you’ll find booklets called “Care Notes” which provide helpful information as we deal with the many challenges of life. They are easy to read and offer the wisdom of our faith and of experience. Please feel free to browse through them to see if there are any you would like to read yourself, and feel free to bring them to others whom you feel may find them useful. They are yours to keep if you wish. We’ll include a list of the topics in the parish bulletin.

I received a letter from the Bishop asking me to congrat- ulate and thank you for reaching our 2018 Catholic Charities Appeal Goal. I believe we have been meeting or exceeding this goal every year and so I’m very grateful that you reach out to the poor & those in need with both your donations and your prayers. And let me also thank you for the many dona- tions of food and other items that you bring in & put in the vestibule for use by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who does such great work in helping those in our neighborhood. In their name, I thank you.

It’s that time of year again for us to set aside an entire day to be mindful of the importance of thankfulness and to offer our gratitude to God for the countless blessings that are in our life. I invite you to join us for Mass this Thursday morning at 9am. In line with a long tradition here at St. Leo’s, we will bless and pass out loaves of bread to be enjoyed by those sharing in the Thanksgiving meal at home. The Eucharist we will celebrate on that day, and on every day we celebrate Mass, is all about giving thanks and praise to God. Yes, we ask for his mercy and for many other things, but primarily, the liturgy is one act of praise and thanks. It is gratitude that brings us peace and removes our sadness. How do you feel blessed this year?

The deacon now has his own chair in the sanctuary. It’s actually a hand-me-down as it used to be the priest’s chair but we had a new one made for the priest or presider which has a slightly taller back to it. I always got the clothes my brother used to wear so now I finally get something new and Deacon Pat gets something used. But at least I was kind enough to give him the cushion that goes with it.

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.