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.

Pastor's Blog for August 4, 2019

Well our church roof has finally been replaced.Another big expense behind us. If you feel even the smallest drop of water while sitting in the church, please let me know before we send the final check. Our parking lot was just patched up as well so no more holes or cracks. Though we still have over a month before school starts (after Labor Day), our school is looking great after all the floors have been stripped & waxed and other improvements have been made such as a new floor in the Junior High hallway & new fire resistant doors have been installed. Your contributions to the Capital Improvements Fund continues to be a big help so thank you for allowing us to keep repairing and updating our parish property.

Next weekend we will have people in the church vesti-bule selling their beautiful religious items made out of olive wood from Bethlehem. They make great gifts and benefit the people of the Holy Land so be sure to take a look at what they offer.

We also have our Parish Picnic next Sunday, August11th, from Noon until 3pm. So if you attend the 11am Mass, you can take about 100 steps over to the shrine area behind the Parish Community Center & grab yourself a hotdog or hamburger (and they’re big, juice hamburgers!). If you wish to bring something to share that would be great but not required and of course the food is free. We just want to provide an opportunity to enjoy some good summer food and to visit with fellow parishioners. Music and refreshments are also provided. So we look forward to seeing you there.

I had to take both of my girls to the Vet this past week,and both for similar symptoms but different causes. Abby has a rash that has been deemed caused by “environmental aller- gies” and she needs to take an oral medicine every day for that, likely for the rest of her potentially long life. I do hope she lives many more years but a chronic condition of course requires a chronic depletion of funds out of my wallet. But I’d do it all again because our pets bring us much happiness (if you like pets, that is). Michaela also has a rash but it was caused by her recent grooming (due to no fault of the groom- er) and she too is on the mend. I have a coffee cup that says, “I work hard so that my dog will have a better life.” How true that is. Here are some cat puns that I saw recently: “Cat puns freak meowt. Seriously I’m not kitten.” Here’s another: “Why don’t cats play poker in the jungle? Too many chee- tahs.” A good one to keep in mind: “Petting a cat will leave you feline good.” OK just one more... “Not feline well? Maybe you need to call a purramedic.” You’ll be able to know who are pet lovers by whether they smile or roll their eyes when reading this...

Pastor's Blog for July 28, 2019

Did you know that we have a lost & found here at St. Leo’s? If you’ve lost something (other than your mind as we can’t help with that), it may be in a basket at the information desk in the vestibule of the church where a receptionist can help you with all sorts of things after each of our weekend Masses. We have an assortment of gloves, sunglasses, umbrellas & even keys. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you may also want to check in our rectory office.

Joan Berigan meets with people prior to a funeral that isscheduled in order to assist family members in planning the funeral Mass for a loved one. This includes offering them the choice of scripture readings, music, etc. It is very helpful to the grieving family as well as to me. Soon Joan will offer you information in this bulletin about her offer to assist people who wish to preplan their own funeral. Priests of the Diocese are required to do this and I found it to be very meaningful as it allows me to choose the songs, readings, etc. that I wish for my own funeral Mass. So keep an eye out for more information about this opportunity.

Deacon Pat and Joan will also be exploring the possibil-ity of having a regular bible study for those who would like to learn more about the scriptures. And they will also be telling you about a website that you can visit called FORMED which is designed to help Catholics learn more about our faith. It is something that the Bishop would like all parishes to offer and it is an excellent resource for under- standing (and therefore appreciating) the richness of the Catholic Tradition. We offer many opportunities for learning and growth in the faith...you only need to respond with a willingness to try some of these to see if you find them helpful in living a fuller life.

Last week the parish staff and I went on Lolly the Trollyfor a tour through the city of Cleveland. It was fascinating to hear how much history is behind our city & to see things I’ve never seen or noticed before that have an interesting story behind them. Of course we had a great tour guide, our own Eva Bunosky who has been giving tours (and driving) Lolly the Trolly for many years. It’s incredible how much she knows about Cleveland and how much talking she has to do when giving these tours...all while driving this bus-like trolly at the same time. I’m lucky if I can sing and carry the gospel book from the altar to the pulpit at the same time. We had lunch at Mama Santa’s in Little Italy, a place we used to frequent when I was in the seminary. We pretty much lived on pizza in those days. If you’re interested in a relaxing and interesting tour of our city (which can include Little Italy, Lakeview Park, and many other places as well), then give them a call & sign up (please note that I do not receive any compensation for this advertisement...though that wouldn’t be a bad idea).

Pastor's Blog for July 21, 2019

We welcome Archibald Miller as the newest member of our parish family. He is being baptized this Sunday and his parents, Nathan & Bethany, were married here at St. Leo’s a couple of years ago. We share their joy on the day when Archibald becomes a child of God.

On July 6th we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Pauline Quellos who is survived by her son John, to whom we extend our sympathies. Pauline had a devotion to Mary and attended Mass regularly. At 91, she was the grand- mother of 7 and great-grandmother of many. May she be reunited with her late husband, son and daughter in God’s kingdom.

The Knights of Columbus, who have their home here atSt. Leo’s, will be having their “Measure Up” Campaign this weekend when they collect money for mentally challenged disabled adults and children. It is a very worthwhile cause and I fully support their requests for donations.

St. Leo’s has a very strong social media presence. Thismeans we are visible on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through our website, leothegreat.org. This is the primary way that young people today seek information concerning everything, including faith, such as the knowledge about the Catholic Church and more specifically about individual parishes such as St. Leo’s. We receive email from many people every month who have visited our website. We also have a free mobile app that can be downloaded to your Android or Apple devices. We communicate through Flock- note, so that school parents and parishioners can receive timely information by choosing what they are interested in receiving, for example our parish bulletin, funeral notices, etc. So please allow us to keep you informed of what is hap- pening in our parish community through these tools of tech- nology and communication. More information can be found in our parish bulletin and on our website. If you need help, any of our office staff would be happy to assist you.

As you can see our roof replacement is not finished yet.They are not able to work when there is 30% or greater chance of rain. And we’ve had a lot of those days in recent weeks. While I’m anxious for it to be done, at least I feel like we’re getting our money’s worth. It’s a worthy project for our 50th Anniversary of the building of the church. We hope the new roof will last us another 50 years.

This Thursday, July 25th, is the feast of St. James. I believe I wrote here recently that James is now one of the 4 most popular names for boys. When I was assigned to St. Bernadette in Westlake, all 3 of us priests had James as our first name. Needless to say, we went by our last names so as to avoid much confusion. James was one of the 12 Apostles and had a brother named John who was also an Apostle. Please pray to St. James that I may be a St. James too someday (which will take a lot of work on my part & lot of grace on God’s part!).

Pastor's Blog for July 14, 2019

When we have a holiday coming up or when the Office Manager who does the bulletin (and a great job she does with it!) is on vacation, I need to prepare my column a couple weeks ahead of time. This is one of those times. Due to the July 4th holiday and vacation for Mary Lou, our Office Manager, I am writing this on July 2nd. I try to be current in the news and information I offer here but some- times that’s not possible due to the bulletin schedule. But I would like to mention the ordination and assignment of priests which took place in the last couple of months.

We had 9 men who were ordained to the priesthood(and I should have asked for your prayers for them two months ago but it’s never too late!) on May 18th. That’s a very good number for our Diocese, though one belongs to the Congregation of St. Joseph and the other is from the Diocese of Daegu, South Korea. The first assignments for these newly ordained priests are normally announced just prior to their ordination, and it is during June that several other priests receive new parish or ministerial assignments as well. There are several priests therefore transferring from one parish to another during that time. Many of you remember the days when a parish would have more than one priest assigned to it, in addition to the Pastor. They were referred to as Assistants, then as Associates or Associ- ate Pastors, but are now called Parochial Vicars according to Canon Law. This is because they are not the Pastor’s Assistants or Associates but are “Vicars” or representatives of the Bishop at the parish level (thus the term Parochial). When I was an Associate Pastor (prior to the new title), a priest would be assigned to a parish for a period of five years although now the assignment is for four years. Except for his first assignment after ordination, he could “apply” or express interest in a particular parish if he wished, though ultimately it’s up to the Bishop, who considers the recom- mendation of the Personnel Board, where a priest will be assigned.

It’s a bit different for Pastors in that a priest can applyto be Pastor at a certain parish when it becomes known through the Diocese that a parish is in need of a pastor (due to an assignment change, retirement or death of the previ- ous pastor). I continue to be very grateful that the Bishop granted my request to be Pastor of St. Leo. A pastor used to be able to remain at a parish for as long as he desired, even until retirement or death, though Bishop Lennon instituted a new policy where there is a 6 year term limit for pastors, which can be renewed, even more than once. Come to think of it, my 6 year term will be up in January 2020. I can honestly say that time flies when you’re having fun. How enjoyable it has been to be with you and I hope I can continue to serve you well into the future. Please pray for us all that we may be worthy ministers of the Gospel to God’s People.

Pastor's Blog for July 7, 2019

My hope is that the roof is done by the time you are reading this. It all depends on the weather but it will be nice to have that major project behind us (actually it’s above us but you know what I mean). The next step is to repair the large hole in the ceiling of the sanctuary now that the leak has been fixed in the bell tower roof.

We’ll be having sections of both parking lotspatched again this summer and this should mean that both lots just need to be maintained from now on as over the last few years we took care of the places where it was cracked & where it developed pot holes. Again it will be good to know we are caught up on this.

Other summer projects include repairing the stonesthat support our large sign in front of Lux Hall, painting the sandstone of different colors (blue, white, brown) behind the cross on Lux Hall with one color to blend in with the surrounding brick, replacing the floor in the junior high hallway, and installing new windows in the living room and office area of the rectory. We have been replacing some rectory windows each year but this will complete that project so that all windows in the building have been replaced. All in all, our property and buildings are in very good shape. Better landscaping is the goal for next summer.

Finally the design for the replacement of theconfessions in the back of the church into shrines has been completed so I hope for that to start soon (it will take about 10-12 weeks). We should be getting our baptismal font back very soon.

Thanks again for your donations to our capitalimprovements fund which allows us to complete all these projects and maintain the buildings & grounds of St. Leo’s.

I’ll be celebrating my Dad’s 92nd birthday this week along with my siblings and stepmother and I’m glad for that happy celebration because sadly it was 20 years ago this past week that my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. She lived for 2 years following that diagnosis but it came as a big shock to us. Of course I think of her every time I pray at Mass, “Remember our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and all who have died in your mercy: welcome them into the light of your face.” I know you think of your deceased loved ones during this prayer as well. But we continue to give thanks for those still with us today and ask God’s blessings on them for good health and happiness.

Pastor's Blog for June 30, 2019

The Bishop has written a letter to all the faithful of the Diocese expressing his sorrow for the deep pain that resulted from the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy. He states that in the interests of both justice and healing, the Diocese is publicly acknowledging and identifying those clergy who have been removed from ministry after credible accusations have been made against them. He also states that there is an updated list that includes the names of additional diocesan priests and deacons, regardless of how long ago the abuse is alleged to have occurred. The Bishop’s letter and this updated list can be found on the website at www.dioceseofcleveland.org/ healing. If you do not have access to the internet, we have paper copies available for you in the rectory office.

The Bishop is also offering opportunities for those whohave been abused to participate in support groups guided by experienced facilitators. There will also be several days of retreat to be held in various areas of the diocese for those who wish to participate. He reiterates that any allegation of child sexual abuse that becomes known to the Diocese is reported directly to civil authorities and that our Diocesan Review Board becomes involved immediately as well. He assures us that “a cleric will be permanently removed from ministry if it is established by an admission, a conviction in criminal court, or by way of an appropriate canonical process that he sexually abused a child.”

I join with Bishop Perez in sharing my personal sorrowover these sins and crimes of former clergy. And at St. Leo’s we cooperate fully with Diocesan requirements with regard to VIRTUS., the nationally recognized program to train those who minister, work and volunteer on how to identify signs of sexual abuse in children. Finally, I pray each day (and encourage you to do the same) for all victims of clerical sexual abuse and for the priests who have been removed from ministry due to credible accusations of misconduct. We pray for the grace of “compunction,” which is a sorrow for our sins and for the evil that exists in the world. Our hope can only be found in Christ who is our Judge, our Healer and our Merciful God. We turn to him prayerfully and with hope that the Church may protect all her children.

Our congratulations to Rosemary Michelle Graves, who is being baptized this Sunday at Noon. We ask that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may always remain with this new child of God.

Please join us for Mass this Thursday, July 4th at 9am in the church so that we may pray for God’s blessings on our country, called to be a light to other nations. Please be safe this holiday and enjoy the beautiful weather we hope to have. Please note that the rectory office will be closed on Thursday AND Friday, July 4th & 5th, in observance of the holiday.

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...