Bishop Edward Malesic made good use of his first visit to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood on April 1. There were three reasons for his stop at the Slovenian parish: sampling their popular fish fry, praying Stations of the Cross and recognizing Father John Kumse’s 35th anniversary as parish pastor. (See photo gallery above.)
“I’ve heard your fish fry is among the best in Cleveland, and it didn’t disappoint,” the bishop quipped acknowledging his Slovenian heritage. “I knew the Slovenians would be good cooks.” He enjoyed some hand-breaded fish, homemade soup, potatoes, coleslaw and apple strudel before chatting and mingling with guests in the parish hall prior to praying Stations of the Cross. Parishioners and others posed for photos and talked briefly with the bishop, sharing information about themselves, their families and the parish before he headed to the adjacent church.
Joined by Father Kumse, the bishop spent about a half hour praying the Stations of the Cross from the Blessed Mother’s perspective. At each station, she offered personal comment about how the event affected her as she watched her son, Jesus, be falsely accused, tortured and crucified. After his death, she held his body before it was placed in the tomb, where it rested before his Resurrection on Easter.
“I knew this had to be,” the bishop – from Mary’s viewpoint – said while praying the stations. She talked about watching silently, as painful as it was, while Jesus made the supreme sacrifice to redeem us.
Then, after stopping at each of the 14 mosaic stations on the church wall, the group paused before the altar for the 15th station: Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead.
The bishop told those gathered for stations that he was there to feed both his body and soul, noting Stations of the Cross have been one of his favorite Lenten devotions since his teenage years.
“Jesus reminds us to pick up our cross and move forward, not to stay here where we are. As much as he suffered, he knew that with the love of his Father, he would be taken care of. Jesus always come back. He takes care of us,” Bishop Malesic said. “Calvary is not the end. Always move forward. If the Stations of the Cross have any message, it’s to move forward.”
The bishop also asked the congregation to remember the five men who would be ordained as transitional deacons on April 2 as they continue their formation and journey toward ordination to the priesthood.
“And let’s pray for Father Kumse, who celebrates 35 years as your pastor today,” he added.
Father Kumse recalled there was a snowstorm on his first day as parish pastor in 1987. He is the parish’s eighth pastor since its establishment in 1905.
He celebrated Mass after Stations of the Cross.
Learn more about St. Mary Parish here.