“We need to be like Jesus – shepherds eager to do all we can to help the flock,” said Cleveland emeritus Bishop Anthony Pilla, reflecting on his 60 years of priesthood.
He celebrated noon Mass on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland. Members of the Pilla family, many priests and seminarians from Borromeo and Saint Mary seminaries attended the liturgy. Concelebrants included Bishop Nelson Perez; Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries; Bishop Martin Amos, retired bishop of the Diocese of Davenport; Bishop George Murry, SJ of the Diocese of Youngstown; and Benedictine Abbot Gary Hoover from St. Andrew Abbey in Cleveland.
Bishop Pilla also acknowledged the presence of one of his seminary classmates, Father John Murphy.
“We are here today to celebrate the one true high priest, Christ Jesus. We as priests share in His Priesthood. Like a shepherd, the Lord did all he could to help his sheep. Through our ministry and presence,” he said, addressing his fellow priests, “we must do what we can to bring the Gospel to people so they can encounter the Lord.”
Bishop Pilla said a loving, caring, forgiving, understanding, consoling presence offering spiritual comfort is what the faithful – as well as priests – need. “I wouldn’t have made it through 60 years (of priesthood) without you,” he said, adding, “And God has been with me through it all.”
He thanked Bishop Perez for the opportunity to celebrate the Mass and to once again sit in the cathedra, the special chair in the cathedral that is reserved for the bishop.
“I am convinced that the priesthood is the greatest service in the world,” he added.
Bishop Pilla was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1959 for service to the Diocese of Cleveland. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the diocese on Aug. 1, 1979 and was appointed bishop on Dec. 18, 1980. He was installed on Jan. 6, 1981, and retired on May 15, 2006.