Bishop Nelson Perez visited parishes in two more districts of the Diocese of Cleveland this week as he continues getting acquainted with the faithful.
He was at Holy Family Parish in Stow on Oct. 24 for a Mass and reception with people from the 28 parishes in Summit County.
The following night, Oct. 25, he visited Gesu Parish in University Heights to celebrate Mass and meet people from the Cuyahoga Suburban East District.
He gathered with priests for a meal and discussion before each of the district Masses.
At Holy Family more than two dozen priests concelebrated the liturgy that was attended by several hundred people. Father Paul Rosing, Holy Family pastor, welcomed Bishop Perez to the district.
Before Mass began, the bishop asked the congregation to remember in prayer the family of a kindergartener from nearby St. Francis De Sales School in Akron who was accidentally struck by a car and killed that morning after he was dropped off at school. “I am also offering this Mass for all of you,” he added.
In his homily, Bishop Perez reflected on the apostles and their flaws, noting how one betrayed Jesus and another denied him. “They were a real piece of work,” he said. “If we were picking people today to run a Church that would last thousands of years, we’d never pick a group like them.” In fact, the bishop said when he gets disappointed in himself, he just thinks about the apostles. Despite their flaws, Jesus saw something in them and picked them to do his work.
“A suffering servant is how Jesus described himself,” he said, adding, he can only imagine how frustrating it must have been at times for Jesus to deal with Peter.
“He (Peter) probably told Jesus to stop saying all that stuff because people won’t want to follow you. And remember, Jesus called Peter Satan and told him to get behind him,” the bishop said.
After the crucifixion, he said the apostles were scared and hid in the Upper Room. When Jesus appeared to them, he said, “shalom,” which means peace. “But it meant something different in those days. He was making them whole again in the Lord,” he said. After that encounter, he said the disciples were never the same. They soon left on their ministry to spread the Gospel.
“Just think – if they hadn’t left that room, you’d have your Tuesday night free,” he quipped, “and Jesus’ message would have died with the last apostle.”
He also echoed one of his frequent themes: how Pope Francis calls us to be missionary disciples, to look outward and not just to come to our churches, but to go out and spread the Gospel.
“If you look inward too much, you can become a navel-gazer and if you do that, it’s hard to see others. Our parishes can become self-absorbed with activities ‘jut for us,’ but the pope encourages us to look outward. Only looking inward is the sign of a sick Church,” he said. “you should work hard to make your parishes not just somewhere that people go, but also where they go from.
“Seventy-five percent of people don’t live their faith. If our families were like that and ignored 75 percent of their kids, they’d be in court for negligence,” he said, illustrating the need for missionary disciples.
The bishop also recognized the priests, including one who was ordained 67 years ago, the deacons and religious sisters in the congregation and thanked them for their work in the Church. In addition, he thanked members of the Knights of Columbus who formed an honor guard before and after Mass.
Bishop Perez celebrated Mass on Oct. 25 at Gesu Parish with a dozen members of the clergy as concelebrants and several hundred congregants from the Eastern Suburban District in attendance.
The bishop focused much of his homily on the role of the parish in the Church and that the Holy Spirit is asking the Church to step outside of itself and for its members to become missionary disciples.
He quoted Pope Paul VI who he said reawakened the Church by proclaiming that “It is inherent in our baptism to be missionaries.” The bishop then cited. Pope St. John Paul II who introduced the new evangelization to the Church, declaring the parish a center of the mission to share what we have seen and heard through our missionary discipleship.
“We need to meet people where they are with the truth of the Gospel,” the bishop told the faithful.
Both evenings concluded with receptions where Bishop Perez interacted with many who attended from across the districts.
Parishes in the Summit County District are Immaculate Conception, Nativity of the Lord Jesus, St. Bernard, St. Francis De Sales, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary, St. Matthew, St. Paul, St. Sebastian, St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Trinity, St. Anthony of Padua and Visitation of Mary parishes in Akron; Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Eugene and St. Joseph in Cuyahoga Falls; St. Mary in Hudson; Mother of Sorrows in Peninsula; St. Victor, Richfield; Holy Family, Stow; Our Lady of Victory, Tallmadge; St. Augustine, Barberton; Guardian of Angels, Copley; SS. Peter and Paul, Doylestown; St. Hilary, Fairlawn; Queen of Heaven, Green; and Prince of Peace and St. Andrew the Apostle, Norton.
Parishes in the Suburban East District are Holy Rosary, Cleveland; Communion of Saints, Cleveland Heights; Our Lady of the Lake, St. John of the Cross and SS. Robert and William, Euclid; St. Francis of Assisi, Gates Mills; St. Paschal Baylon, Highland Heights; St. Clare, Lyndhurst; St. Dominic, Shaker Heights; Sacred Heart of Jesus, South Euclid and Gesu, University Heights.
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