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Funeral arrangements announced for Bishop emeritus Anthony M. Pilla

News of the Diocese

September 22, 2021

The funeral for Cleveland Bishop emeritus Anthony M. Pilla will begin with vespers at 3 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 1007 Superior Ave., Cleveland. Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries, OSB will be the presider. Bishop Martin Amos, retired bishop of Davenport, Iowa, will be the homilist.

Vespers and the funeral Mass will be livestreamed on the diocesan website and the stream will be archived.

The wake continues until 7 p.m. in the cathedral.

Bishop Edward C. Malesic will be the main celebrant at the funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Sept. 28 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, with Father Edward Estok, pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish in North Royalton, as homilist.

Interment will be in the Resurrection Chapel in the cathedral.

Bishop Pilla, 88, died on Sept. 21. He was the first son of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland to serve as its bishop.

Ordained on May 23, 1959 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Pilla served as a parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Parish in Middleburg Heights before beginning service as a teacher and administrator at Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe. He also served in several other diocesan positions before being appointed auxiliary bishop of Cleveland on June 30, 1979. His episcopal ordination took place on Aug. 1, 1979 in St. John Cathedral.

Bishop Pilla was appointed apostolic administrator of the diocese on July 29, 1980, after Bishop James A. Hickey was appointed archbishop of Washington, D.C. He was appointed bishop of Cleveland on Nov. 18, 1980, and was installed on Jan. 6, 1981 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

He served as diocesan bishop until May 15, 2006, when Pope Benedict accepted his resignation for health reasons. At that time, he became bishop emeritus.

Throughout his retirement, Bishop Pilla continued to serve as a resource for the diocese and his successors, the late Bishop Richard Lennon, Bishop Nelson Perez, now archbishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Bishop Malesic. He also continued to support the diocesan seminaries, the seminarians and his fellow clergy.

He was well loved and those who knew him said he touched the lives of many through his kindness, genuine concern and care for others and his priestly heart. He reminded the clergy, laity and religious that they were good people and good priests, which made for a great diocese.

Note: The cathedral is under renovation and the only entrance available is the south entrance on Superior Avenue. Those planning to attend the wake, vespers or funeral for Bishop Pilla should allow extra time to access the church.

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