Hundreds of parishioners joined Bishop Edward Malesic as he celebrated the 11:30 a.m. Mass on Aug. 1 at St. Albert the Great Parish in North Royalton. Concelebrants were Father Ed Estok, pastor, and parochial vicars Father Joshua Trefney and Father Michael Petkosek. Deacon Ted Bizon assisted.
“I want to thank Father Ed Estok for the invitation to be here with you today on this very special occasion,” the bishop said.
The liturgy was part of a celebration of the parish’s “Building Faith” initiative and the blessing and grand opening of its new Parish Life Center.
“I want to congratulate this entire parish on a job well done. I can’t wait to get over and dedicate your new Parish Life Center,” the bishop said, noting the building will be “a wonderful place for ministry and for parish celebrations. You should feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in that building and the other things you have accomplished on this renewed property as you build faith for the next generation. You are stewards of our faith. Thanks for sharing it with so many,” he told the congregation.
“Always remember to use what you have built here for the glory of God. God must be at the center of this parish. God is the reason for this parish, after all.”
Reflecting on the day’s readings and Gospel, Bishop Malesic talked about how some people are difficult to please. Last week, the Gospel told the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Even though – through a miracle – Jesus fed thousands of people, it wasn’t enough. In this week’s Gospel, he said the people wanted more, something common in today’s society. People want a new car, a new home, new iPhone, new golf clubs and a new job. “And we aren’t satisfied even if we get all these things. We want more,” he said.
“Only when we become appreciative of the God who gave these to us – and trust me, I know it took a lot of sacrifice on your part – but only until we see God’s blessing in what we have, we will not see God – and we will always be disappointed.”
The bishop urged the faithful to “See God’s hand of blessing in all that you have done here in your parish. See God’s presence in the gifts he gave to you to do it all. God gave you the wherewithal to build your new parish center and all the other good works you have done. God was with you and still is. Praise God for that. Thank God for giving you each other to make this parish come alive for him,” he said.
They were advised not to “grumble at God’s goodness, like the Israelites in the first reading. They say that we should ‘count our blessings’ for a reason. When we count our blessings, we realize just how much God has given to us.”
Bishop Malesic said the parish has accomplished a lot with the help of the Lord.
“This parish, its church, new Parish Life Center and the beautiful grounds are temporary. But what is temporary, if used well, is able to lead us to eternity. Here is where we work out our salvation with God’s great help. Use what you have here, a church, a new Parish Life Center, better grounds and one another to build your relationship with God. That is its ultimate purpose: Search for God until you can rest in him,” the bishop said.
Jesus knows that we need bodily food to keep us alive. Last week’s Gospel told the story of Jesus feeding the hungry people on the hillside. But we need more than that – our souls need nourishment, too, the bishop said.
“Today, in a special way at this Mass, Jesus wants to fill our spiritual poverty. He wants to feed our souls. He feeds us with himself and invites us into a relationship with him. Jesus says, ‘Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life … I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger; whoever believes in me will never thirst.’ If we believe this, we have nothing to grumble about and everything to be thankful for, the bishop said.
He also reminded the faithful that it’s important to share the gifts we have received, including our faith.
“We must not keep Jesus secret from others. Your personal faith in Jesus must not become your private faith in Jesus. Share the faith of this parish and all the good things that happen here with others. Welcome people to our Catholic faith. Be bold and creative as you bring about your parish’s Vision 2025 for the future,” he said.
Father Estok thanked the bishop for participating in the celebration, which he said consists of building faith in two ways: brick and mortar – the Parish Life Center and renewed, renovated parish grounds – and spiritually, by kicking off the Parish Vision 2025, “Building Faith: Hearts, Homes, Parish and World.”
John Royak, Parish Council president, outlined the five principles of Vision 2025:
- Be enthusiastic inviters.
- Engage those we welcome.
- Be dynamic worshipers.
- Be empathetic companions to the hurting.
- Be well-formed families of faith-filled disciples.
After Mass, the clergy and congregation processed to the new Parish Life Center, where dignitaries and others involved in planning and building the facility were introduced. The bishop traveled the perimeter of the building, blessing it, including a stone cross that had been removed from the former convent which was demolished. The cross has a place of honor in the new Parish Life Center.
“This building is an amazing testament to what we can do together,” the bishop said.
He spent time after the blessing chatting with parishioners and posing for photos.
St. Albert the Great Parish was established in 1959 when the Diocese of Cleveland bought 7 ½ acres of land in North Royalton. Sunday Masses were at North Royalton High School in the early years. A garage on the property was renovated for use as a daily chapel and confessional. In 1961, St. Albert the Great School opened. In 1981, the church and church hall were completed. A 500-seat addition was added to the rear of the church in 1981, and in 2005 the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel was constructed. The church interior was renovated in 2014 as part of the diocesan Rooted in Faith campaign. The school continued to thrive and in 2018, a satellite campus was opened at Assumption Parish in Broadview Heights.
In 2016, the parish formed a master plan committee to consider growing needs and in 2018, the Building Faith: New Generation plan was announced, including the new Parish Life Center. A capital campaign kicked off in 2019 with a $7.4 million goal for the new master plan. The project began in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic hit. Construction of the Parish Life Center wrapped up on June 22. A month later, the former convent was demolished to make way for new church handicap parking, which is under construction.
Father Estok said the parish has about 3,900 families and serves about 11,000 people.
The Pastoral Council Vision 2021 was promulgated and the new Parish Life Center dedicated on Aug. 1 during the bishop’s visit.