The Diocese of Cleveland’s mission in El Salvador consists of multiple parishes in La Libertad and Teotepeque. Bishop Nelson Perez and Father Stephen Vellenga, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Painesville and director for the propagation of the faith and the diocesan mission office, are spending a few days in El Salvador this week visiting the diocesan mission team, parishes and communities in the two cities.
On Dec. 17, the bishop and Father Vellenga traveled to Teotepeque to celebrate Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Parish and to Misata, where he celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Candelaria Parish. Father John Ostrowski, a diocesan priest, is pastor of both parishes. Father Ostrowski has served about a decade with the El Salvador mission team. Colorful signs welcomed Bishop Perez to the parishes.
Click HERE to read about Bishop’s first day in El Salvador.
The bishop also met with community members and enjoyed lunch with community leaders at Our Lady of Candelaeria. He accepted a gift from Rigoberto, representing the parish.
In addition, Bishop Perez met with St. Peter the Apostle Parish Council members.
Others traveling with the bishop and Father Vellenga are Father Paul Schindler, a Cleveland diocesan priest who is a 15-year member of the El Salvador mission team and pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in La Libertad and Father Martin from St. Dominic Parish in Chiltiupan, El Salvador. This is the bishop’s first visit to the El Salvador mission.
He also met up with Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, a friend of the recently canonized St. Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was shot and killed on March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass.
The cardinal and bishop previously crossed paths in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, where Bishop Perez spent five years as an auxiliary bishop, and last spring when the cardinal visited Cleveland.
During their visit on Dec. 17, Bishop Perez saw a cincture from St. Oscar Romero – a first-class relic containing blood from the day he was killed. A cincture is a rope-like belt worn by clerics with their liturgical vestments. The bishop also received a purificator, a second-class relic that touched the saint’s blood-stained cincture.
Bishop Perez will visit the sites of the martyrs – Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan, both from Cleveland, and St. Oscar Romero on Dec. 18. He also will have dinner with San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas and Cardinal Rosa Chavez and will spend time at Father Schindler’s parish before heading back to Cleveland later this week.