“Once we were not, and then we were; but there was never a time that God was not.”
Bishop Nelson Perez used that quote to open his address to a large group of Young Catholic Professionals on Jan. 14 at the St. Ignatius High School Breen Center for the Performing Arts in Cleveland. YCP asked him to speak on the topic “Constancy in the Changing World” as part of its Executive Speakers Series.
“Think about that for a minute,” the bishop said, adding that change is inevitable. He reminded the crowd that while change can be both painful and good, both require leaving something behind.
“When we are born, we left behind the comfort of our mother’s womb. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a place that has food, the perfect temperature and room to float? However, nature has to take its course and we are born,” he said. The bishop reminded the group that while Jesus also was born, there is one constant: God. He has always been present and he took on the human form in Jesus.
“What is it that you treasure,” he asked. “Where is your heart? Whatever is in your heart is where we are centered.”
Bishop Perez shared a story that he said has stuck with him for years. He said he was watching a television interview about a young man who escaped from Cuba on a windsurfer. The man spent a week on the Atlantic Ocean before reaching the United States. The interviewer asked him how he was able to persevere and his response was, “I had to keep my sail centered and straight so I kept my eyes focused on my sail.” The interviewer asked if he was afraid of the sharks and when the waves were very high. The man also was asked if he was afraid of the storms.
The bishop said each time a question was asked, the man had the same answer: “I couldn’t focus on my fear because then I would have been distracted. If I were to become distracted, then my sail would not have remained straight. If my sail hadn’t remained straight, I wouldn’t have made it.”
“What is your sail? What keeps you centered,” the bishop asked the group, adding, “The Gospels propose that your center be God.”
He told them that it is unlikely that 10 years from now they will be where they are today; however, the one constant that will always be with them is Jesus.
Bishop Perez also took time to answer a few questions. One attendee asked how he remains focused and he answered with one word: “Prayer.” He said it wasn’t and isn’t always easy, but he takes great solace in being in front of the Blessed Sacrament. His favorite readings are the Psalms, in particular, Psalm 139 because it asks, “Lord where can I go?”
Attendees also were told that the bishop has been meeting with various young adults and their leadership teams, including YCP President Sarah Yantek. They were advised to watch for an announcement regarding details for a young adult pilgrimage that the bishop will host next year.
For more information on YCP, visit the group’s Facebook page.
Click HERE for details on additional young adult ministries in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.