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Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic
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St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th anniversary with Mass, dinner

News of the Diocese

May 4, 2022

St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner
St. Mary Parish, Elyria celebrates its pandemic-delayed 175th  anniversary with Mass, dinner

When St. Mary Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Elyria was established in 1845, the city of Elyria was 28 years old and had been incorporated for only a dozen years.

Since the Diocese of Cleveland would not be created for two more years, the parish was part of the Diocese of Cincinnati, which encompassed the entire state of Ohio.

Much has changed in the past 177 years, but St. Mary Parish remains a vibrant family of faith.

(See photo gallery above.)

Bishop Edward Malesic traveled to Elyria on April 30 to help the parish celebrate its pandemic-delayed 175th anniversary with a Mass and dinner. He was the principal celebrant of the liturgy, with the pastor, Father Charlie Diedrick, and Father Paul Wysocki, a former parochial vicar, as concelebrants. Assisting was Deacon Bob Dybo, who served the parish for a time.

“This parish truly holds a special place in the history of our diocese,” the bishop said, noting the celebration should have taken place two years ago, except the coronavirus pandemic intervened. But it wasn’t the first time the parish survived a pandemic. He recalled the influenza pandemic that didn’t end until 1920, pointing out the parish survived both that one and the current one.

“And that’s the good news. We’re here together – celebrating today – and there is so much to celebrate,” Bishop Malesic said. “It is truly important that we celebrate the legacy of this special place that through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the hard work and dedication of so many people over the years, this parish remains today as a beacon of holiness and hope for the community here in Elyria.”

The parish’s first resident pastor was assigned in 1853 and the first church was built the following year. The current church -- the second one to serve the parish – was dedicated in 1886 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Bishop Malesic talked about the history St. Mary Parish has experienced during the past 177 years including two world wars, other military conflicts and Vatican II. It played a role in the establishment of nearby Elyria Catholic High School in 1948 and has fostered many vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

“As with anything that is good, there were challenges along the way. But this parish always moved forward,” he said.

He credited Father Diedrick, for his hard work in leading the parish community, but also noted that it takes more than one person to have a robust parish community. All the priests who have served throughout its history, the deacons, religious sisters, teachers, parents, volunteers and parishioners themselves have been part of St. Mary’s ongoing success, the bishop said. Some of the priests who served at the parish or are sons of the parish attended the dinner.

Father Diedrick and his family have played an important role in the parish and its history. He is the sixth generation to be a part of the parish, he explained, pointing out a photo of his ancestors, John and Catherine Diedrick, who were married Sept. 17, 1867 in the parish church. Displays of historic photos from throughout the parish history were displayed in the hall during the dinner. Father Diedrick also pointed out his parents’ wedding photo in the church in 1949, his first Communion photo and pictures from his first Mass at St. Mary’s after his priestly ordination. Father Diedrick has served the parish as pastor since 2009 and many of his family members are parishioners.

“There is a strong family commitment here,” he said, noting that families have supported the parish throughout the years, keeping it a strong family of faith.

At its core, a parish is a family of believers in Jesus and an extension of the Lord’s mercy, Bishop Malesic said, taking care of those in need, the poor, the abandoned, the stranger, the imprisoned and the forgotten. “And a parish is a place where God’s word is proclaimed, heard and lied because we have fallen in love with Jesus, who has shown his love to us from the cross,” he said.

“For 175 years and more, this parish has been a family in love with Jesus Christ. It has shown its love in baptizing its children and educating them in the ways of the faith. It has shown its love by coming together every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharistic feast of Jesus who gives himself to us over and over again in the sacrament of the altar. It has shown its love of Jesus by anointing the sick and feeding the poor and by bringing our dead to this church one last time for their resurrection on the last day. This parish has shown its love of Jesus by bringing new believers to the faith,” he added.

“Yes, the parish has existed as a family of faith in love with the Lord,” the bishop said, noting that in the Gospel, Jesus told us that if we love him, we should follow him.

“Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus because if we do that, we will never lose our way. This parish has shown Jesus to us and for that, we are all eternally grateful.”

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