La Sagrada Familia Parish on Cleveland’s West Side had a double celebration on Dec. 12, as Father Francisco Honorato Garnica, CSJ, was installed as pastor during the annual celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Bishop Edward Malesic installed Father Garnica during his first pastoral visit to the parish. Father Garnica has been serving as parish administrator since Father Rob Reidy’s assignment as pastor ended on Dec. 30, 2020. Father Reidy, who now serves as senior parochial vicar at Mary Queen of the Apostles Parish in Brook Park, was among the concelebrants at the Mass.
Other concelebrants were Father Garnica; his seminary classmates Father David Stavarz and Father Joshua Trefney; Father Joe Hilinski, pastor of St. Barbara Parish in Cleveland; Father Leo DeChant, CSJ, treasurer and vice provincial, and Father Angelo Zonta, CSJ. Father Alex Spenik, parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish, Painesville, served as Bishop Malesic’s master of ceremonies and assisted with Spanish translation for the bishop. Deacons Victor Colon, Epi Torres and Ignacio Miranda assisted.
The church was packed with faithful of all ages, some spilling out into seats set up in the gathering area. A mariachi band provided music.
Before Mass, the bishop told the congregation how excited he was to be worshiping with them on the special day. “I thought Mass was at 11 a.m., so I came early and spent some time checking out what was going on in the kitchen,” he said in English, as Father Spenik provided the Spanish translation. “It looks good and smells great,” he added.
“I’m here for two reasons today: to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe and to install your new pastor – if you’ll have him,” he quipped, as the congregation applauded.
Father Garnica, also known as Father Paco, spoke about Our Lady of Guadalupe, sharing the story of the Blessed Virgin’s apparitions to St. Juan Diego, a poor Indian, in 1531 in Mexico. Alternating between Spanish and English, he talked about how the Blessed Mother appeared in native dress, with a mantle of dark blue, a robe lined with gold and sprinkled with stars. She stood on a crescent moon. She is the patron saint of Mexico, patroness of the Americas and protector of the unborn, Father Garnica said.
“She is the presence of hope, of light in darkness. Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe (Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe),” he said.
After the homily, Bishop Malesic asked Father Garnica to lead his congregation in a profession of faith.
“My dear brother Francisco, always remember to be a gentle shepherd and a loving father as you lead your people,” the bishop said. “This parish is a family of faith. Your parish and this culture feel Jesus at its very form. But let’s not keep Jesus in here – take him out there,” the bishop said, gesturing outside of the church.
“Jesus comes to us as a gift, but that gift must be used for others. This is a healthy parish. All of us are formed to be disciples of Jesus as we sit at his feet. I encourage you to take what you receive here and use it as a blessing for others. Sagrada Familia is a blessing for this community and for our Church,” Bishop Malesic said.
“Father Garnica is young. Don’t break him,” he quipped. “A good pastor loves his people. Thank you, Father Garnica, for answering the call to the priesthood.” The bishop encouraged those in the congregation to answer the call to their vocation, whether it be the priesthood, religious life, single life or marriage.
“Don’t be afraid. Jesus will be with you,” he added.
After Mass, the celebration continued as the bishop mingled with guests and enjoyed Mexican food.