Pastor's Blog for June 23, 2019

As I type this, the roofers are on the roof of the church installing a new...well, roof. We finally have a bit of a respite from the rain so they are taking advantage of it while they can. Now that the roof is being taken care, we can finally repair the hole in the ceiling of the church above my chair so as to ease my fear of being hit with plaster whenever I sit there. Of course it has to be on the priest’s side and not the deacon’s side, but I’m sure Deacon Pat would prefer for it to hit him rather than me. Hopefully it won’t fall on either of us as we get it fixed.

At the 11:00am Mass this Sunday, John & Jeanne Sabolwill be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary so congratulations to them! They have been long-time and very active members of the parish and we are so grateful for all they have done and continue to do for our parish community. To name just a few, John is one of our cantors and you can hear the gift he’s been given whenever he leads us in song. He has also done a lot of archival work so that we can keep the history of our parish alive. He and Jeanne together have changed the pictures and other historical documents in our display case that is in the vestibule and it’s very interesting to see some of our past there. Jeanne started our Preschool along with Rhonda Richlovsky many years ago and it continues to go strong today under the leadership of Jennifer Robinson, assisted by Cherise Pacanovsky and Cindy Kosiba. Jeanne also coordinates the Have a Heart, Lend a Hand & Adopt a Child program where items for children and money is collected to help those in need. So as we congratu late John & Jeanne, we also thank them and ask God’s blessing on them that they may continue to be a gift to each other and to our parish.

This weekend we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi which is Latin for the Body of Christ. As Catholics, the real presence of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist is central to our faith and to our worship at Mass. As we receive Holy Communion today, we do so with gratitude for the many times we have received that wonderful gift in the 50 years Mass has been celebrated in this church.

Just to finish my story about Abby from last week, after 2 1⁄2 days of doing who knows what, she finally came home (at 4:30am). While I wanted to scream “Where were you?”, I remembered the story of the lost sheep and the joy we’re suppose to have when one of them (or one of our cats) is found and brought home. So she now has a collar and a name tag on it with my phone number & address just in case it happens again, though I’m taking precautions to make sure it doesn’t. But they are sneaky creatures so you gotta be pre- pared...

Pastor's Blog for June 16, 2019

We celebrated a Memorial Mass for Peter Gramuglia who returned to Cleveland once a year to visit with family & friends here where he grew up. We extend our condolences to his wife and to his four children. Peter made sure that he raised his children in the Catholic Faith. He himself attended Mass 2x a week and had a devotion to Mary. May he benefit now from her prayers.

Congratulations to Roman Capone and to Jordann Lewiswho will be married this Friday. They live in Denver but Roman attended school here at St. Leo’s and so wanted to return here for the celebration of his wedding. God’s joy be with them on their sacred day.

Father Vesely is scheduled to celebrate the 4pm Mass next Saturday, June 22nd. He continues to do very well at Mt. Alverna and it’s always good to have him back for Mass.

I realize that some of you, like myself, like it to be more on the chilly side when air conditioning is used in the church but others, especially those who are older, prefer it to be cool but not cold. As I’ve mentioned here several times, it’s a real science trying to get our church air conditioner to keep a certain temperature since it’s an older unit (the original in fact). If you knew how many times we have the company out here to fix it! Rest assured we keep working on solutions and I just suggest you bring a sweater or jacket for those times when it may be acting up and trying to make popsicles out of us. But at least we don’t have to sweat when the really hot summer days come our way (if they ever do this summer).

We won’t be having coffee & donuts this month butwhen we resume again in July, here’s something to keep in mind...just a little reminder that as Catholics, we fast from all food & drink (except water) for one hour before Commun- ion. This is to remind us that we hunger for the Bread of life. It can be tempting to grab a donut or coffee if you enter the church through the vestibule before Mass but the time to enjoy refreshments will come soon enough. Let us first be nourished by the food & drink of the Eucharist so that we can better appreciate each other when we visit over coffee & do- nuts.

I’m sad to say that Abby (the cat) ran away this pastweek. She stays in my suite on the 2nd floor of the rectory as we have the doggy door downstairs for Michaela to use throughout the day. I am very conscious of keeping my living room door closed so she can’t escape but it must not have closed tightly Sunday night as I found it open on Monday morning when I opened my bedroom door. Sure enough our security camera recorded her on the patio outside. As of Tuesday morning when I write this, she has not returned. She went in & out all the time at my old parish so I’m still hoping she will return but those of you with pets know how much we enjoy their presence. LAST MINUTE UPDATE: Abby came home Wednesday morning!!!!

Pastor's Blog for June 2, 2019

We extend our congratulations to former pastor Fr. Ned Weist who is celebrating his 50th Anniversary of Ordination (Golden Jubilee). He is having a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Charles Borromeo Parish (where he once served) at Noon this Sunday (June 2nd), with a reception to follow. I plan on being at the reception so I will extend the prayers and best wishes of St. Leo’s to him at that time. It’s always good to have him back to St. Leo’s for Mass. We hope to see him again soon.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of the Lord which used to be on the Thursday before Pentecost (remember it was called “Ascension Thursday”?). But it has been moved to the Sunday before Pentecost which is next Sunday, June 9th. We then return to the “Ordinary Time” of the Church year even though the next two Sundays will find us celebrating the feasts of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ). Even though the first day of summer is not until June 21, it really begins to feel like summer once graduation has taken place (last weekend) and school is no longer in session. I plan on taking full advantage of the summer months to enjoy the nice weather.

Did you notice that the baptismal font is gone from the church? Be honest now...did you really notice? Perhaps not because it is a simple and small pedestal that can be somewhat hidden in the front right corner of the sanctuary (altar area). For that reason we are having a couple of pedestals added to it which will provide a quiet flow of water from one to another. It should be finished soon. For our 50th Anniversary of the building of the church, we are also going to have our mosaic stations of the cross cleaned up and polished and hope to install track lighting from the ceiling which will make them more visible. Finally we are working on a couple of shrines in the back of the church where the old confessionals are and which will house the statues of St. Leo the Great and St. Vincent de Paul. A banner is being made for outside the church and we have a couple little things in store for the actual anniversary date which is December 24th.

I’m feeling much better so again thanks for your pray- ers, cards & concern. It helped me to learn that according to the Social Security Administration, James is now the 4thmost popular name for boys in the United States. It is pre- ceded by Liam, Noah & William (my dad’s name). I always preferred the name James over the nickname of Jim as the latter can be confused with a place for athletic activity, which is certainly not me. James however reminds me of the sophisticated chauffeur (“Home, James”). But all that is up to parents. Perhaps my dad would have preferred Wil- liam instead of Bill, but after 92 years, I don’t think he plans on changing that. Whatever name we are called by, it is good to remember that God calls each of by name.

Pastor's Blog for May 26, 2019

Patricia Staab’s funeral was celebrated on May 6th by Fr. O’Grady and Deacon Pat. Patricia was a person who prayed often and was no doubt the source of her love for her husband and children, and the source of her generosity to charities and her willingness to volunteer to help others. We extend our sympathies to her husband and 2 children.

Larry Squires was an avid motorcyclist and his Mass of Christian Burial was held on May 13th, again by Fr. O’Grady and Deacon Pat. Larry prayed the family rosary often, and remembered especially the deceased members of his family as he did so. He was a religious man who was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary & to St. Ann. We extend our condolences to his siblings and adopted daughter Sheila whom he loved devotedly.

I celebrated the funeral for Cara Rose Prokop on May 15th and Fr. Weist, a longtime friend of the family, preached the message of resurrected hope. Cara Rose suffered from Huntington’s Disease, which is what took her father’s life as well. But Cara Rose attended our parish school and then Holy Name High School, and she loved St. Francis and of course, the animals that Francis is known to have loved himself. We extend our deepest sympathies to Paulette, Cara’s devoted mother, and to Cara’s two sisters and brother.

I mentioned having felt like I had the Black Plague and it turns out I wasn’t too far off. I saw my doctor when I returned from vacation and he sent me to the emergency room and then I was admitted to the hospital for several days. I have a large kidney stone (10mm) which I’ve had at least since January. When I spoke to the surgeon who did the prostrate surgery, he told me in January that I had this large kidney stone but of course we both agreed it was more important to deal with the cancer first. But then the stone got stuck and caused an infec- tion which wreaked havoc on my system. My blood sugar went sky high & my blood pressure went dangerously low. But thanks be to the incredible medical technology we have, and due to the skills of many doctors and nurses, I was able to get through it and am now in continued recovery at home. I feel better every day but am trying to pace myself. So once again, thanks so much for your prayers as I feel they are an important part of the healing process. My biggest regret is having missed Deacon Pat’s celebration of his 30th anniversary of ordination but I trust you expressed to him and Joan your gratitude for all they do for me and for the parish. It is in times like this when I depend on them the most and they always come through gra- ciously. As far as vacation is concerned, I think I’ll just stick around here for a while. Work seems healthier for me than vacation.

Please join us this Monday as the nation celebrates the memory of our fallen military members. It seems that their example becomes more & more important as our world becomes more & more torn by division. They remind us that giving of yourself, even of your very life, is what marks you with a great character. Let us pray for them and so give the best honor to their memory as possible.

Pastor's Blog for May 19, 2019

It’s always good to come home from vacation but so much more this time as I became ill in the middle of this one. The first few days were great as I did some sight-seeing during a drive through New York State. But then on Thursday I woke up with the chills & was in bed for the rest of the day. I had short periods of feeling a little bit better over the next few days but was still plagued by fatigue, loss of appetite (the worst part for me!) and a general blah feeling. I see the doctor this afternoon (it’s Tuesday as I write this) so I can only speculate but my guess is the Black Plaque. Of course I can tend to exaggerate my pain a bit but I do hope the doctor will give me something to get over this because it’s been a long week.

The St. Leo’s Seniors hold a special place in my heart. The first parishioner from St. Leo the Great that I spoke to after receiving this assignment was a woman who called me & invited me to join the Seniors at their Christmas Party in early December (of ’13). I was happy to join them all & to sit with Fr. Vesely & Fr. Lowe to learn more about the parish. I will be joining the Seniors this Wednesday for their Installation of Officers. They are a fun group so I just want to encourage anyone who is looking for an opportuni- ty to get to know others in their age group to consider joining them. They meet a couple times a month on Wednesdays right here on our parish property (they use the Parish Community Center which is handicapped accessible). They enjoy eating together, socializing & having others come in to educate or entertain them. Please check them out.

Next Saturday we will have the eighth graders join us at the 4pm Mass. AFTER Mass, they will have their graduation ceremony. It’s always bitter-sweet as we say goodbye to those who have been with us for several years but we are also joyful in the opportunities they face with a good education and Catholic formation behind them. Our graduates come back frequently to say hello & to say thanks for what they received here at St. Leo’s. I’m amazed to think that these students were only in 3rd grade when I arrived here. It’s been an honor to see them grow over the years. Please pray for them as they step into the future.

Thanks again for your consideration of a follow-up gift to Catholic Charities that will exclusively benefit the expe- rience of campers with disabilities. I know that we all feel called on from every corner to donate to this worthy cause or that one, but even a small donation is helpful when we all make the commitment to do it. God bless your constant generosity.

Pastor's Blog for May 12, 2019

Next Monday, May 20th, is Deacon Pat Berigan’s 30th Ordination Anniversary. While we don’t celebrate the 30th anniversary of ordination for priests (just 25th, 40th, 50th & 60th), we do remember the 30th anniversary for Deacons. So we will have a Mass of Thanksgiving next Sunday, May 19th at our 11am Mass. Following Mass, we invite you to join us for refreshments (sandwiches, pizza, cake!) in the school cafeteria. I don’t have to tell you (but I will) how much Deacon Pat & his wife Joan have contributed to our parish of St. Leo’s in the one year they have been active here. Of course you see Deacon Pat assisting the priest at Mass and preaching, but you probably don’t see the many other ways that he and his wife minister here: baptism preparation (& baptizing), visiting the sick & homebound, planning funeral liturgies with family members, meeting with those interested in Catholicism, and so much more. They have been a real help to me as the only priest here and I’m very blessed to have them on our Pastoral Staff. May God bless them in their ministry & continue to bless us through them.

I wanted to let you know in advance of next weekend that we will be having our Catholic Charities Follow-Up Appeal next Saturday & Sunday. In addition to the Catholic Charities Appeal that we had in February which went to several different organizations and ministries which help a wide variety of people, the follow-up appeal is earmarked specifically for a special need in the Diocese at this time. Last year, the Diocese was able to raise over $700,000 from more than 7,000 parishioners in this follow-up appeal, which allowed us to fight the opioid epidemic that has hit Cleveland as it has all over the country. Because of that appeal, Catholic Charities opened a Recovery Center at St. John the Baptist parish in Akron. The funds raised this year will be invested in camper- ships, cabin renovation and adaptive programs to enhance the camp experience of campers with disabilities. Once again we are able to have a $100,000 challenge which doubles any new, increased or additional gifts which support this follow-up appeal. I share this information with you now so that you may prayerfully reflect on if you can help with this appeal next weekend. As always, your continued generosity is appreciated and will not go unrewarded by God for “whatever you do for the least of my brothers or sisters, you do that to me.”

We have received a preliminary design for adding a couple of pillars to our baptismal font to make it a bit more focused as a symbol of the importance of baptism. It will have flowing water which the scriptures speak of frequently to remind us of the ever-flowing grace of God in our lives. It will be simple but an enhanced version of what we presently have. We are also waiting for a design which will convert our unused confessionals in the back of the church into shrines for St. Leo the Great & St. Vincent de Paul. If you’d like to con- tribute (any amount) to these projects, please let me know. It’s a way for us to celebrate this 50th anniversary of our church building.

Pastor's Blog for May 5, 2019

Mary Hodolic had been at Broadview MultiCare Nursing Home for about 3 years. I was able to anoint her and talk to her before she died and I know that her Catholic faith was very important to her so I trust she found comfort in the Sacrament of the Sick & in the prayers of the Church. We express our condolences to her daughter Donna Sabatine and her husband Phil who cared for Mary lovingly. Mary was 93 years old. May she now enter that experience of life that is not measured in time but which lasts forever in God’s pres- ence.

Congratulations to all of our 2nd graders who are making their First Holy Communion this Saturday (May 4th) during the 4pm Mass. We try to stress to them the importance not only of their first reception of the Sacrament but on the many times they will be able to receive the Eucharist throughout their lives. I am very grateful to all who prepared them so well for this day, especially their teachers, our principal & PSR director, and all who model for them the ways of faith.

Congratulations also to the parents of Vincent Bigam who is being baptized Sunday. It’s always a joy to welcome these little ones into our Catholic family. We pray that their parents may be an example of faith to him.

I’m writing this on May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. I told the people at the 7:30 Mass this morning that it’s my brother’s 60th Birthday. He was given the middle name of Joseph because he was born on the saint’s feast day, and it’s interesting that my brother has a talent for carpentry. I was happy to wish him a happy 60th, but it’s also a reminder that I’m next to cross that threshold (next year). I did tell my brother that 60 is the new 50, or maybe even the new 40. If that’s true, then I’m not even over the hill yet. I can talk myself into anything. It’s strange that I know people who today are celebrating their 50th, 60th & 70th birthday. Strange how that happens. But here’s a shoutout to my brother...Happy Birthday to the first born.

Father Vesely will be here for the 4pm Mass next Satur- day, May 11th so I’m sure it will be good to see him again. I know it is always a joy for him to see you. Now that Lent & Easter & Confirmation & First Communion are behind us, I have a chance to get away for a few days so I won’t be with you next weekend but I too always enjoy coming home after a little respite. Thank you for making it a joy to be here with you.

Since I won’t be here next Sunday, let me take a moment now to wish all of the women of our parish a Happy Mother’s Day. If you’re blessed to have your mom still with you, be sure to let her know how significant she has been in your life. If like me, your mom has already preceded us in death, you can still thank them for leaving behind the good memories we have of them. During this month of May, we ask our Blessed Mother to pray for us now and at the hour of death.

Pastor's Blog for April 28, 2019

Beginning this weekend, all of the parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland will make a small change during the Communion Rite. It’s very simple: after you have received Holy Communion and returned to your seat, please remain standing until the last person has received. Then you may either sit or kneel for personal prayer. We used to stand after Communion until the leftover consecrated hosts were placed back into the tabernacle, however with many different practices in the Diocese, the Bishop felt it would be good to standardize our posture at this time. Toward the end of Com- munion, the Communion Song will end so that you may have some silent time to pray. Thank you for your cooperation.

Congratulations to Benjamin McDonald who will be baptized this Sunday morning. We welcome him into our Catholic Family and pray that he may come to know the resurrection of Christ and believe in the promise of his own resurrection.

Next Saturday the 2nd graders will be making their First Holy Communion during the 4pm Mass. We are grateful to all who were involved in their preparation for this Sacrament, especially our 2nd grade parish school and PSR teachers. It’s always a joy to see them process up the aisle and to hear them sing a thanksgiving song after Communion. May they receive the Eucharist countless times during their lives so that they may know that Christ is with them always.

I may be bald the next time you see me because I’ve been pulling my hair out dealing with the HVAC in the church and rectory. As you know, these are 50 years old (both were built in 1969) and so we have had to make many repairs, some of which are small and some of which are big and expensive. Part of the problem is the way that the system was designed. The boiler (for heat) and chiller (for air conditioning) which are located in the church/rectory basement, were intended to heat and cool both the church and rectory. It turns out this has made things complicated. A few years ago, cooling units were added to the rectory so that they would be separate from the church, but again this has made the system difficult to deal with. The bottom line is that it is quite a science trying to get the church at the right temperature at the right time. The goal of course is to make it as comfortable as possible in the church so that we can focus on our prayer, but sometimes it may be warmer or cooler than you like. Even if we can get it to remain at a set temperature, some still like it warmer or cooler depending upon age, health, and personal prefer- ence. We will continue to do our best and I thank you for your understanding. If you’re too hot, then take off your coat (but nothing else please) and if you’re too cold, then bring an extra sweater with you (but don’t sit too close to the person next to you, trying to warm up through their body heat). Just remember that the scripture says (in the book of Revelation) that the Lord would prefer us either hot or cold, but not lukewarm!

Pastor's Blog for April 21, 2019

I must begin this column by welcoming all of you who are with us today to celebrate this great feast of the Resurrection. To those who are faithful parishioners throughout the year and to those who are visiting with us from another parish or anoth- er place, we want you to know how good it is to have you here today. And most especially, we warmly welcome those who may have been raised Catholic and/or those who live in the area but who no longer practice the faith with regularity. We extend to you the peace of Christ, who extended his peace to his apostles the first time he appeared to them after he was raised from the dead. We speak of “practicing Catholics” because all of us, even the best of us, are still (& always will be) practicing how to relate lovingly to God and to each other. Together we offer this prayer of thanks for the hope given to each of us by the death and resurrection of Christ. It is that hope that allows us to live in a world that is so rife with conflict and despair.

Last week we invited everyone to take home with them a free book we have purchased called “What I love about being Catholic.” It’s not the kind of book you need to read cover to cover, but one you can just open and read one page or two at a time as it offers reflections on how the Catholic faith has helped people in the struggles of life. I hope it inspires you as it has me, to appreciate more deeply what Catholicism has to offer us. If you did not receive one last week, please be sure to take one (or more) home with you today. Perhaps you know of a family member or friend who may benefit from it.

Every year many parishioners work hard to make Lent and Easter special times for us here at St. Leo’s...those who provide opportunities for almsgiving such as through our Have a Heart, Lend a Hand program (thanks to all for your great generosity!), those who practice many hours in the music ministry, those who make our beautiful church even more so by flowers, the children who acted in the Passion Play, and those who minister in some way, in any way, quietly but faithfully throughout the year. Our gratitude to all of you.

In the midst of joy and gratitude, I must also acknowledge the sadness of many who are grieving the loss of a young (32 year old), faith-filled woman named Caitlin Kacher, the daughter of Tim Soucek of our parish. She fought a battle with cancer for many months and did so courageously. She and her husband Todd were married here almost 4 years ago and she spoke of how it was the happiest day of her life. We were especially touched to see so many students from Avon High School (where she enthusiastically taught Spanish) who were here at her funeral last Monday to grieve and pray with us. But our grief reminds us, most especially on this particular day, that we always have hope because of how Christ accept- ed his death for the sake of us all. May Caitlin rest in joy and peace.

Pastor's Blog for April 14, 2019

A funeral Mass for John Pahn was celebrated on April 5th here at St. Leo’s. John attended Mass regularly until he became ill and prayer was important to him. He was also described as thoughtful and generous. John enjoyed being around family, especially his nieces & nephews. He served in Vietnam after joining the Navy. God’s word reminded us: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” May John and his family know the comfort and peace of God.

Another reminder that the Athletic Department will be holding their annual Pancake Breakfast today (Sunday) in Lux Hall from 9am until 1pm. It’s always a great meal so I hope to see many of you there supporting our athletic program and those who volunteer many hours in it.

As we begin Holy Week today with our celebration of Passion (Palm) Sunday, a good way to prepare for the liturgi- cal experiences of the week is by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So confessions will be heard on Monday, April 15th at 6:30pm and on Wednesday at 11:00am.

On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7pm. Lent officially ends with the beginning of this Mass as the Church enters into the “Sacred Triduum” or the sacred three days which commemorate Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. It is at this Mass when feet are washed in imitation of Christ who said that we should do as he has done: to humbly serve each other as he came to serve us. It is on this day when we remember the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist. So after we have received Holy Communion, there will be a procession of the Eucharist to the side chapel which symbolizes how we are emptying the church, even of the Lord’s sacramental presence, in preparation for the liturgy of Good Friday. You are welcome to remain in the chapel area for private prayer. The Blessed Sacrament will be reposed (removed completely from the church) at 10:00pm.

The prayer of the Church continues with the Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday at 3pm, the school children will perform their annual “Passion Play” at Noon and Stations of the Cross will be at 7pm. At the 3pm Service (which is not a Mass but a continuation of Holy Thursday’s liturgy), we will have a Liturgy of the Word with the proclamation of the Passion, the Adoration of the Holy Cross and Holy Communion. It is a most sacred day for us to reflect on the meaning of the Lord’s suffering and death.

The climax of the Sacred Triduum is the Easter Vigil which will be at 7:30pm on Holy Saturday. It begins with the blessing of fire and the lighting of the new Paschal Candle which is processed up the center aisle of the still darkened church.

And of course we have 3 Masses on Easter Day itself at 8am, 9:30am and 11:00am. The more we are present to these liturgical prayers, the more we will be touched by their mean- ing. We look forward to a week of prayer with you.