The Cleveland Browns were playing -- and defeating -- the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 3, but about 80 people were engaged in another competition at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe.
The diocesan Vocation Office hosted Faith, Friends, Frisbee and Food for the second year, drawing youth groups from Tolle Lege Summer Institute, St. Mary Parish in Hudson, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Gates Mills and Holy Family Parish in Stow as well as a number of seminarians and priests. The teams faced off for games of Ultimate Frisbee, with the seminarians claiming victory. Taking second place was the priest team and Tolle Lege snagged third place.
“It’s a fun day,” said Father Mike McCandless, diocesan vocation director, whose office coordinated the event. “The weather cooperated for the most part,” said, despite the threat of rain.
The teams faced off on the grassy areas of the 40-plus-acre CPL campus. Competition was intense, but fun. After the tournament, everyone gathered for prayer before heading to Sacred Heart Chapel for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Malesic, who watched parts of the Frisbee tournament and congratulated the winners.
“It is good to be together,” the bishop told the teens in his homily.
Although the day’s readings spoke about marriage, he said they hinted at something deeper: It’s not good to be alone. Throughout the pandemic, that’s what happened to many people, which led to depression, fear and confusion. “Nothing good comes from being alone,” the bishop said.
He told the teens that many young people spend a great deal of time online and texting. But texting doesn’t replace being in the same room with someone because that requires practicing the virtues of patience, kindness and charity.
“You know the person who is most alone? The person who doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t have God to rely on. That person is truly alone, so often that person walks alone. That’s not good. We were not created to be alone,” he said, noting it’s important to be together, to laugh, sometimes cry, play and study together.
The same thing applies to the Church.
“We are a Church of many, not a Church of one. Jesus knows we need each other to pray for the needs of the other, not only our own needs. We need each other to support each other in our faith. And sometimes we need to correct each other,” he said. Also, we need to take care of one another in the Church so we can take care of people outside the Church.
“Jesus sent them out two-by-two to announce the good news,” the bishop said. “What one person lacks, the other can give. Jesus pulls us together and he says where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst. Jesus loves community. There is strength in numbers.”
He said Jesus is our greatest partner in life, but if we want a relationship with him, we must speak with him. “Jesus wants you to talk to him. Open your hearts to Jesus.” Sometimes, that means finding a quiet place to speak to him and to let him speak to you.
In prayer, the bishop said Jesus will ask you for something, including to be holy, to remember you are a child of God who is set apart to know, love and serve God. He will call each of us to a way of life – married or single. “But don’t think the single life is a life without relationships,” he said.
Marriage is a service to the Church because marriage and family become the building blocks of the Church. In addition, married people are in a partnership for life and are asked to show what God’s love is like: fruitful, faithful and enduring.
Those called to single life still can live a full life, the bishop said. Those in the priesthood give up one kind of family for another, as do men and women who are called to religious life who find a home within their community.
“As a priest and now a bishop, my family is much larger than I ever expected it to be. Look at all the kids I have here with me today,” he quipped.
“Each of you is made for something and you will be happiest when you do what you have been made to do. Ask God, ‘What do you want me to do for you with my life?’”
He also encouraged the group to support each other in whatever vocations the Lord asks them to follow.
“Walk together as a Church and never do anything apart from Jesus, who walks with you. And then listen to him asking you, ‘Follow me.’ And follow him. We live in an age of mistrust, but never fail to trust God,” Bishop Malesic said.
He also reminded them that we come together as God’s family of faith around the altar table to share the most important meal of the week, “the meal where Jesus gives his life to his family of believers in a sacrifice of love.”
He thanked Father McCandless and Maggie Zbiegien from the Vocation Office for organizing the event and encouraged the teens not to be afraid as they discern their vocation.
After Mass, the group moved to the Founders Room for dinner and social time.
Father McCandless said plans are underway to resume the annual priest-seminarian basketball game in January 2022, with details to come.
Call 440-943-7631 or click here for more information on vocations or to contact the Vocation Office.