“As you remember the past, think of the future,” Bishop Nelson Perez told parishioners at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Lorain during a Sept. 29 pastoral visit. “You have been handed down a gift from those before you. What gift will you hand down?” he asked.
The bishop reminded the parishioners that their parish and much of what they have were gifts given to them by those who came before them. However, he also reminded them to remember that everything we have is a gift from God and that we only have these gifts for a while. For example, he said, “Today, we thank God for the gift of this house. More than 121 years ago, the Polish people of this area wanted a place of their own. They petitioned the bishop and eventually this church was built.”
However, there was and is one constant: the Eucharist, he said. The word Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving. While there have been and will be many priests, deacons and parishioners that will come and go at the parish, the Eucharist always will be present. He reminded them that in the beginning, when the parish was new and the church was being built, Mass was celebrated in several places – but the Eucharist was always there.
Bishop Perez said this was the 166th parish he has visited of 185 in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland since his arrival two years ago.
“I wish you could see what I see: the joy, the happiness, the pride. I wish you could see what I see,” he said.
The Polish heritage and pride of the parishioners was evident in the gifts the bishop received from the Parish School of Religion students and the parishioners. PSR students participated in the choir, played some of the instruments and then presented Bishop Perez with a spiritual bouquet. The parishioners gave him cookies – some of which had his picture on them, while others pictured the church building. They also gave him a piece of Polish pottery.
Although Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has a Polish heritage, it also includes other ethnicities. Hungarian statues adorn the altar, including St. Peter and St. Paul, whose relics are next to each. The restored stained-glass windows are from an unknown German artist.
Another window was crafted by Father Bob Glepko, the parish parochial vicar. He designed and painted the stained-glass window that features a vase of flowers with the insignia of Pope Francis. It was installed behind the pipe organ.