With 2018 just a week old, Bishop Nelson Perez continues to travel around the diocese meeting, greeting and celebrating with the faithful.
He spent some time at the Carmelite Monastery in Cleveland Heights the morning of Jan. 5, visiting with the religious sisters there.
That evening, Bishop Perez traveled to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Gates Mills for an event with about 300 young people. Bishop Perez led prayer and presided over worship that included Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation. The bishop also delivered a brief homily.
This young adult gathering is an event that is held every first Friday at the parish.
On Jan. 6, Bishop Perez traveled to St. Rocco Parish on Cleveland’s West Side to celebrate the beginning of the 800th anniversary year of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, also known as the Mercedarians. The order arrived in Cleveland in 1924 to establish and staff St. Rocco’s, a parish of primarily Italian immigrants. A short time later, they established a second parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel (West), again primarily consisting of Italian immigrants, and also located on Cleveland’s West Side. Both parishes and schools continue to be staffed by Mercedarian friars and religious sisters.
During the Jan. 6 Mass, which also was attended by Bishop emeritus Anthony Pilla, Bishop Perez received a scapular from the Mercedarians and was named a member of their Tertiary Order. The scapular was presented by Father James Mayer, O de M St. Rocco Parish pastor. The presentation was read by Father Michael Rock, O de M vice provincial of the Mercedarian Friars in the United States.
St. Rocco School students presented each bishop with a bouquet of roses and Bishop Perez received a sweater with the school crest.
A reception with homemade meatballs, rigatoni, Italian sausage and pastries followed in the parish hall.
On Jan. 7, the bishop traveled to Akron where he celebrated Mass at Nativity of Our Lord Parish, to commemorate the parish’s 40th anniversary and to celebrate the installation of Father Zachary Kawalec as pastor.
Bishop Perez congratulated parishioners on reaching the 40-year milestone and he thanked them for their dedication, hard work and faithfulness. His homily focused on the Nativity and Epiphany. He also encouraged Father Kawalec, as the new pastor, to lovingly shepherd the parishioners.
After Mass, the bishop enjoyed a cookie, coffee and punch reception.
Before Mass, he toured the parish facilities, learned about the history of the parish and saw the collection of 500 Nativity sets on display in the parish’s Nativity Museum. He also admired the parish’s replica of the Bethlehem Cave in Israel. Only two such replica caves exist in the United States — in Akron and in Washington, .DC. The life-size replica cave was built in the lower level of the church.
Hundreds of pilgrims have visited it and the Nativity museum during the past 20 years, Father Kawalec said.