A sell-out crowd of more than 200 people jammed into the large dining room at The City Club in downtown Cleveland on Nov. 30 to hear Bishop Nelson Perez address the First Friday Club of Cleveland. The event was streamed live on the diocesan website and can be accessed HERE.
Notre Dame Sister Rita Mary Harwood, secretary for parish life for the Diocese of Cleveland, said one person told her that ?this is really a good time. We have a smiling pope and a smiling bishop."
?He?s someone who cares deeply, responds generously, laughs freely, and as my secretary Paula said this morning, ?he?s just not stuffy,?? she said, adding the diocese had been praying for a shepherd since January 2017.
?When Bishop Perez got the call asking if he?d ever been to Cleveland, that call was the answer to our prayers,? Sister said.
?She is so kind,? said Bishop Perez. ?I am thrilled to be here today at the First Friday Club that meets on Thursday to celebrate faith, fellowship and you.?
He spent about a half hour sharing his thoughts with the audience, touching on Church history, the Scriptures, his life, impressions of Cleveland and what the modern Church needs to do. His address shifted between thought-provoking and humorous remarks that several times generated laughter from the audience.
The bishop mentioned that it was the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. ?Look at them (the apostles). They?d have never been hired by today?s standards,? he said, eliciting laughter. ?One betrayed him (Jesus), one denied him and the rest ran for the hills. Who stayed? The women.?
With that segue, he recognized the women, priests, religious sisters and deacons in the audience. He also asked students in the crowd to stand and be recognized, as well as diocesan employees.
Bishop Perez shared thoughts on what it means to be an apostle, drawing on the reading from the day?s Mass from St. Paul?s letter to the Romans:
?. . . But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ?How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!? But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says,