“On the occasion of my installation as pastor, I am filled with great joy. Excited about our future together, it is my hope that our lives speak clearly to the defined mission of our Catholic Church: evangelization,” Father Anthony Suso said at his April 28 installation as the new pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma.
“Jesus entrusted his mission to his apostles on Pentecost, exclaiming, “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . The same Holy Spirit present in the Upper Room on Pentecost is alive and working today at St. Columbkille Parish,” he added.
Bishop Nelson Perez celebrated the installation Mass. About a dozen priests concelebrated, including Father Neil O’Connor, pastor emeritus; Father James Mazanec, senior parochial vicar; Father Edwin Leonard and Father Christopher Weber, parochial vicars; and several classmates and friends of Father Suso.
The bishop acknowledged Father Suso’s family, including his parents Julian and Stephanie and his brother Michael, who were at the Mass.
He reminded the new pastor that it’s not all about me (or him). “I came with the ring of a phone and I will leave with the ring of a phone,” he said, alluding to his call to become a bishop, which took him to the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and his call to be the new bishop of Cleveland.
Bishop Perez also shared some wisdom he gained during his time as pastor of parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, prior to his elevation as bishop. “If the pastor asks you (parishioners) for something, it’s not for him,” he said. The bishop noted that one time he had to ask the parishioners at his parish for $400,000 for a new roof on the church.
“I’m gone, they’re still there and so is the roof. I was invited back to celebrate Mass last fall and I asked the about the roof,” he said.
In reflecting on the day’s reading, Bishop Perez noted that there was tension in the early Church, including conflict between the Jews and Christians. “Peter and Paul had differences, too. They were having issue right out of the gate,” he said, adding because of human nature, we will always have conflict.
The Gospel focused on the story of the vine and branches, which need each other for survival, the bishop explained. “The vine may look strong, but it only has life if connected to the ground and the branches are only strong if connected to the vine . . . If a branch is disconnected from the vine, it’s only a matter of time before it dies,” he said.
“Without me, you can do nothing Jesus said. This is a great message for Father Suso on his installation.” The bishop talked about how the parish community was given to us by God and we need to be connected to it in order to be strong – to receive God’s Word and the sacraments. Parishes are not outdated institutions, he said, referencing remarks made by Pope Francis.
“They (parishes) can assume different contours, depending on the flexibility and creativity of the pastor. The parish community is the Church living in the midst of the homes of its sons and daughters. The Church is a place to which you go and from which you are sent,” he said.
The installation included a formal acceptance of the pastoral assignment by Father Suso, his introduction by the bishop as the new pastor and greetings from the parish staff, council and finance council. He also led the congregation in the recitation of the creed and pledged to follow the teachings of the Church and to pass along those teaching to his parishioners.
He and Bishop Perez also signed the paperwork to formalize his appointment.
Father Suso is the fifth pastor of St. Columbkille Parish, which was established in 1956.
After Mass, the bishop greeted parishioners, posed for photos and there was a reception in the school gym.