Despite a snowstorm on Jan. 23, Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries traveled to St. Jude Parish in Elyria to install Father Joseph Scalco, CSJ as the parish’s fifth pastor.
Members of the parish confirmation class had an opportunity to visit with Bishop Gries and they participated in the liturgy. The parish staff and leadership, including members of parish council, the finance council, parish organizations and St. Jude School, also participated. They were called forward during the installation and Father Scalco promised to seek their advice when making decisions for the parish.
Bishop Gries told the faithful that Bishop Edward Malesic was aware of the parish’s need for a pastor and he was pleased to install Father Scalco in that position. He had been serving as parish administrator since the former pastor, Father Frank Kosem, retired in 2019 after guiding the St. Jude’s for 34 years.
Reflecting on the day’s readings, Bishop Gries said every member of the parish is important, “even if you don’t think so.” Scripture said that the body consists of many parts, all of which work together. “If the whole body suffers, it can’t be what God intended it to be,” he said. “The same is true of the Church.
Each of St. Jude’s four previous pastors – from founding pastor Father John Carrabine through Father Kosem – has served as a representative of the bishop of Cleveland, just as Father Scalco does, he said.
“Wonderful things have happened here over the years,” the bishop said, mentioning construction of the church and school buildings and the growth of the parish. “As Father Joe takes over, he needs your help. He can’t do everything himself. I always tell pastors not to be afraid to ask for help. All the people are here to help build up the parish to fulfill God’s plan for St. Jude Parish,” Bishop Gries said. “And when you’re all in tune with Jesus Christ, he will see it.”
He told Father Scalco to bless the parish family entrusted to his care. “When they receive the Eucharist, they take Jesus home with them and build up the body of Jesus Christ.”
Father Scalco offered his thanks to Bishop Gries for celebrating the installation Mass. He also expressed gratitude for those who helped plan and participate in the liturgy, including the deacons, choir, parish staff, confirmation class, school, parish organizations and parishioners. “All come with great joy to serve the parish. I will do my best to be the navigator of this parish,” he said, adding his hope that Jesus would guide them through whatever lies ahead and form them as a faith community.
He wrote the following, “My Prayer,” which he said “came from my heart,” that was recited at the end of Mass.
“God, the Father, you have called me – an undeserving man – to serve the Catholic Church as a priest and as a religious. Grant me the gift of being a worth minister for the people of St. Jude Parish, shepherding them after the example of Christ. Help me to share with them the grace of the sacraments, to be attentive to their spiritual needs, to heal their woundedness and to proclaim with great joy the good news of Jesus' Gospel.”
A native of Vicenza, Italy, Father Scalco attended a school operated by the Fathers of St. Joseph before taking his vows to enter the religious congregation of priests and brothers who minister to at-risk youth. After completing his studies in Italy, Father Scalco was sent to the United States where he lived at the house of the Fathers of St. Joseph in Avon. He attended Borromeo College and Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology. In 1979, he was ordained a priest for the Congregation of St. Joseph.
After ordination, he taught religion and French at nearby Elyria Catholic High School for five years before being transferred to Lancaster, California where he served as a high school teacher and campus minister for 25 years. He was appointed pastor of a parish in the Los Angeles Bay area, where he learned Spanish so he could minister to Spanish-speaking parishioners. Father Scalco also speaks English, French and Italian.
While in California, he earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology.
After the death of Father Lawrence Tosco, CSJ, a much-loved professor at Saint Mary Seminary and superior of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Father Scalco was sent to Avon to take his place as superior.
“I am humbled and honored to serve the people of God in this parish and I gladly embrace the joys and struggles of pastoral work, knowing that even the trials are blessings in disguise when carried with and for Christ. Please pray for priests and pray for me, who am now your pastor. I love you,” he told parishioners.