In 1968, the Cleveland Catholic Diocese purchased 15 acres of land off Cannon Road in Solon, then a growing suburb of Cleveland. The intent was to establish a new parish that would serve Solon and surrounding communities. At the time, St. Rita parish, founded in 1929, was the only parish in Solon.
The first Masses for the new Church of the Resurrection Parish were celebrated in June 1971 in the gymnasium of neighboring Dorothy Lewis Elementary School. About 200 families attended.
Five years later, ground was broken for a church.
According to a parish history, “Resurrection lacked the usual parish bells and whistles: It had no school, gymnasium or separate building for social functions. Instead, all parish functions would occur in one multipurpose building.”
Father Louis Trivison, founding pastor, led the parish in the context of the renewal of the Church, an effort inspired by the recently concluded Second Vatican Council. It responded to the call for greater participation among laity by establishing a pastoral team that allowed for clergy and laity to share in administration of the parish. Women were invited to be meaningful participants in parish administration and the parish emphasized outreach over the consolidation of services in a series of buildings in Solon, according to Father Mark Hobson, former pastoral team coordinator.
Soon, Resurrection established a partnership with Epiphany Catholic Church on Cleveland’s East Side, which included shared liturgies, activities and resources. Over the years, the relationship grew to include St. Cecelia and St. Dominic parishes in a network called CityLinks. Its purpose was to further encourage unity between urban and suburban communities.
Lisa Frey, Resurrection pastoral associate, said the relationship allowed them to build bridges between Catholics of diverse backgrounds. St. Cecelia and Epiphany parishes eventually closed, but the relationship continues through Resurrection’s involvement with the Thea Bowman Center on the site of the former Epiphany Church in Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
Currently, Resurrection has about 1,200 families from Solon and other nearby communities. The parish dedicated a new worship space in 2004, after a visioning process that involved formation of several committees to examine the parish and explore its future.
The new church and renovated Parish Center welcome parishioners and others to attend or participate in a variety of events and programs including concerts, blood drives and a food ministry.
Father Thomas Dragga replaced Father Hobson as pastor in 2015.
As Resurrection began its 50th anniversary celebration in 2020, the Emmaus 2020 strategic plan and construction of an outdoor Healing Garden were announced. The Healing Garden, which Father Dragga said evolved from a 2019 discussion with the Parish Pastoral Council as a response to the pain of the sex abuse crisis in the Church, was dedicated on June 20 after an outdoor anniversary Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Malesic.
“As our world experienced the coronavirus pandemic, it became even more clear that we could provide a place where people of every faith tradition might find comfort, strength and healing in the midst of life’s pains and sorrows,” Father Dragga said.
“Congratulations on 50 years as a family of faith,” the bishop told a large crowd that gathered on the parish front lawn for the anniversary Mass. “That’s how I see every parish – as a family.”
He thanked the parishioners for the witness of their Catholic faith, for their care of each other and those in need. Although Resurrection has accomplished a lot in its 50-year existence, “this parish still has lots more to do in its mission,” he added.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel that recounted the story of Jesus asleep in a storm-tossed boat, the bishop noted that the disciples were perturbed he wasn’t doing anything during what was a life-threatening situation.
“My friends tell me I can sleep through anything,” the bishop said. “Yes, my head hits the bed and I’m gone. I often thank God for that gift.”
It was unlikely anyone could sleep through the storm in the Gospel, which was rocking the boat wildly and filling it with water. However, Jesus appeared to have no worries. After waking him, the disciples asked if he didn’t care that they were in danger of dying. Since Jesus was just beginning to reveal himself to his followers, they didn’t know the extent of his divine power. But he ordered the sea and the wind to be still – and they obeyed, showing that we should have faith and never doubt the power of Jesus to care for us. He said God revealed himself to us in other forms, including in the bread and wine transformed into his body and blood at every Mass
Bishop Malesic said the true identity of Jesus wasn’t revealed until after his crucifixion, when the centurion looked at his body and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
“That is where the Gospel is leading us – to see Jesus as the Son of God who comes to our assistance, dying for us and for our ultimate salvation,” he said.
There are times when the boat – a symbol of the Church – seems in danger of capsizing or someone falling overboard, the bishop said. “Jesus may be asleep, but he’s aware of what’s going on. Jesus is still in the boat. He teaches us we must depend on him – the God of love who sacrificed everything for us. He’s our captain and he will stay with us till the end of time,” he said, adding, “We help each other by rowing together and by holding fast to our common faith.”
Fifty years ago, a decision was made to begin a new parish, Bishop Malesic said. “Some may not have wanted to leave another parish, yet here you are, bigger than any of them probably ever imagined. The love of Christ obliges us to live for others as one body in Christ. Help each other by rowing together in a direction we didn’t set, but one that was set by God. This parish is centered on Jesus, who is with us in word and sacrament,” he added.
He reminded Resurrection parishioners that their parish was started as a gift 50 years ago. It’s a beautiful gift, he said, “but you’re more beautiful. Remember to take the gift and give it away,” he said, referring to their faith. “Continue to do that inside and outside. Be the best of what it means to be Catholic. We have a great treasure here. Make sure people who are impoverished in spirit know where they can go to get what they need.”
After Mass, the bishop offered a special Father’s Day blessing for all types of fathers who were in attendance – biological, adoptive and spiritual. Then everyone walked over to the new Healing Garden for a blessing. The congregation was encouraged to bring a stone from home and to toss it into the gully behind the garden.
Afterwards, there was an outdoor social with ice cream and anniversary cookies. Parishioners also had a chance to chat with the bishop and take photos.