The peace of Christ be with you. Hello, I’m Father Don Oleksiak, diocesan administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
I have been greatly encouraged by so many in our Church who have been praying and working diligently to meet the challenges we all face during this time of crisis. As people are complying with the stay at home order, they are praying for their families and praying for those who are caring for others and those carrying out the essential services we all need.
I am so proud of our priests, deacons, religious and many lay staff members who are providing creative ways to help the faithful stay connected to the Church. I am grateful to our teachers and catechists who continue to teach via virtual classrooms and distance learning, for those who are feeding the hungry, and all our healthcare workers -- including doctors, nurses, EMS, fire and safety forces, pharmacists -- and all those who are on the front lines taking care of our elderly and the infirm. There are so many people throughout the diocese who are caring for one another. Our Church walks closely with you. Thank you for being patient, kind and understanding during this very stressful time.
I have heard so many stories revealing the goodness of humanity. Neighbors checking in on each other, folks volunteering to assist in the feeding of the poor. One neighborhood has discovered a new way to sustain their community in the midst of social distancing by going out on their respective porches every night at 8 p.m. to wave, play instruments and just to yell “hello” to each other. This pandemic is certainly turning our world and daily life upside down. Maybe it will also help us slow down and refocus on what is really important. I’m hopeful God will continue to bless us and help us to learn something from all this. As my grandmother said, “If life deals you lemons, make lemonade.”
Also, I am pleased so many are tuning in to the many opportunities from parishes and the diocese to participate in daily Mass and devotions as we adhere to the current Ohio stay-at-home order. Many parishes are doing a great job reaching out to parishioners by checking on them via phone calls and mail.
We remain the body of Christ and I strongly encourage you to keep connected to the Church as we continue to have hope and move forward praying that this pandemic will pass quickly. If you need anything please call your local parish. If you are able, please do your best to help your parish through your prayerful and financial support. These are difficult days for parishes, as well. Any support you can give helps keep the Church stable and present for years to come.
And my friends, please intensify your prayers. Pope Francis reminds us to “Stay united. We want to respond with the universality of prayer, compassion and tenderness.” He said, “Let us make those who are alone and tested feel our closeness.” In these days of trial, while humanity trembles at the threat of the pandemic, the Holy Father proposes that all Christians unite their voices to heaven.
So I invite you to join me in praying that God may hear our unanimous prayer as we continue on the journey. May these next few weeks of Lent truly be a preparation to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ! God bless you and your families.