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Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic

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New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish

News of the Diocese

December 9, 2020

New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish
New Marian grotto dedicated at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish

Those passing by SS. Cosmas and Damian Church in Twinsburg may notice the newest addition to the grounds: the Our Lady of Grace Marian grotto, which can be seen from Ravenna Road.

Bishop Edward Malesic dedicated the grotto during a brief outdoor ceremony on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The ceremony was livestreamed on the parish Facebook page.

He shared the story of a grandmother who often talked to children about Mary, explaining what a special person she was. Pauline invited the children into the church one day to explain about Jesus, her son.

“Young people are always searching for something,” the bishop said. He recalled being at St. Victor Parish in Richfield, which is across the street from Revere High School. Since the school parking lot was being repaired, they arranged to use the parish lot. When he came outside, the bishop noticed a boy looking at a statue of Mary that faces the high school.

“I’m not sure why he was there, but Mary’s role is to lead us to Jesus.”

He said the SS. Cosmas and Damian grotto, which features a large statue of the Blessed Mother, might also help lead people to her son.

During the grotto blessing, small amounts of water from the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee, which were brought back after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, were added to the water in the moat. Women from the parish received a red rose and were invited to lay the on the side of the grotto.

Those attending the dedication and blessing of the grotto received small statues of the Blessed Mother that were blessed that night. There also were pamphlets that provided information about the grotto and its symbolism and holy cards with a special prayer for the grotto dedication.

Father Michael Stalla, parish pastor, said the grotto was a parish project – conceived and constructed by volunteers from the parish.

“Mary was coming up a lot in our prayer life this year,” he said, noting that the parish dedicated 2020 to Mary even before the coronavirus pandemic became an issue.

Then, a few months later, a parishioner rediscovered some plans for a grotto that were developed several years ago. The time wasn’t right for that project, so the plans were set aside, resurfacing at what Father Stall called “just the right time” and seeming to be the answer to prayers. Discussion and preliminary planning for the grotto began in January and ramped up as the pandemic spread.

About 65 parishioners were involved in working on the grotto project. Groundbreaking took place on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption, and the dedication was on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Project volunteers were divided into four teams: prayer and symbolism, garden and landscaping, funding and promotion and construction.

“Each worked prayerfully and independently, connecting with the others to share progress and collaborate as needed,” he said. Other volunteers prayed, fed the workers and provided financial and moral support. Father Stall said even neighbors and non-Catholics helped with the project.

Prayer was an essential part of the project, he said.

Many rocks were needed for the project and the parish community responded, which allowed everyone to become part of the project. He said each rock is different, much like the parishioners are all unique.

Funding for the grotto came from the sale of memorial bricks. The goal was to sell 100 bricks, but 175 were purchased. They also sold Our Lady of Grace rosaries and raffle tickets for a marble statue of the Blessed Virgin. Some people donated to the project.

There is much symbolism in the grotto including three hearts that represent the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as three streams flowing down the façade of the grotto to fill the moat. Water is important in the Scriptures, Father Stalla said, noting Jesus is called “living water.”

Scattered throughout the grotto are several Crusader Crosses and 12 gold tiles that represent the 12 apostles. Five countries fought in the crusades trying to keep and/or regain the Holy Land for the Christians.

Around the Blessed Mother’s statue are stars like those that appeared on Juan Diego’s tilma after Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparitions in Mexico. The rock at the statue’s feet is from Capernaum, where Jesus performed many miracles and preached. There is also some sand from Galilee, where Mary and Jesus walked. In addition, Father Stalla said some sacred vessels that could no longer be used for Mass were buried – as required by the Church – beneath the grotto in holy ground.

Memorial benches will be added in the grotto prayer area. A large outdoor rosary made from concrete is located across from the grotto and the Emmerich Series stations of the cross, purchased with excess funds from the grotto project, were installed along the walkway leading to the grotto. In addition to expressing gratitude to the parish for supporting the grotto, he thanked city officials for their help in obtaining the necessary approvals for the project.

Father Stalla said the grotto is a welcome addition to the parish property, making it very clear it’s a Catholic church.

“We needed to do something during this pandemic year,” he said, adding the grotto project is a lasting symbol of something positive that occurred during this difficult time.

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