“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Bishop Nelson Perez as he greeted about a dozen leaders from various faiths on Feb. 5 in the parlor at the cathedral rectory.
Father Joseph Hilinski, pastor of St. Barbara Parish in Cleveland, who also serves as delegate for ecumenical and interfaith affairs in the Diocese of Cleveland, extended an invitation to area religious leaders not affiliated with the Catholic Church. He said the idea was to allow leaders of other faiths a chance to talk with the bishop, with each other and to learn more about our diocese. About a dozen were able to clear their schedules for the noontime event. A rabbi, who was not able to attend, met with the bishop for dinner last month.
Several attendees said they were grateful for the opportunity to mingle with the bishop and other faith leaders. The group included a representative of the Mormon Church, several other Christian churches and an imam. They chatted about their churches and congregations, about their experiences and life in Cleveland. The topic of the Super Bowl, played the previous evening, also surfaced. Bishop Perez, who spent much of his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, admitted he was pleased that the Eagles persevered and won their first Super Bowl. “It almost makes me wish I was there today,” he quipped.
After mingling for about a half hour, the group moved to the dining room where Bishop Perez led them in prayer before they enjoyed a lunch prepared by the rectory staff and more conversation.
The group decided to meet quarterly in order to continue the dialogue.