St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood hosted Bishop Nelson Perez on Feb. 3 as he continues visiting parishes across the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland.
The bishop’s visit coincided with the 60th anniversary of the dedication of the current church building, which occurred on Feb. 2, 1958. St. Mary’s was founded in November 1905 by Slovenian immigrants.
Many at the vigil Mass wore traditional Slovenian dress, prompting the bishop to remind them that faith and culture cannot be separated. He said both are gifts from God and each fuels and feeds the other. If not celebrated and handed on, he said they will be lost. He encouraged parishioners, especially the children, to treasure the Slovenian traditions, culture and language and to pass it on to future generations.
The bishop compared this process to how St. Paul and the disciples spread the faith and others, in turn, continued to share the gift of faith, which travelled through the years to us today. He said that as missionary disciples, we have a responsibility to pass our faith on to others. “This is exactly what the Holy Father asks us to do in ‘The Joy of the Gospel,’” he said.
While researching the parish before his visit, Bishop Perez told the congregation he learned that Father John Kumse, St. Mary’s pastor, was appointed to that position two years before the bishop was ordained a priest.
“How old are you, Father?” he asked. “You must be at least 90.” That comment prompted laughter from the congregation. It was pointed out that Father Kumse is 65.
After Mass, the bishop greeted the faithful and posed for photos. He also stopped by the Holy Name Society’s 41st annual reverse raffle and enjoyed some traditional Slovenian food.