“Buona festa,” said Bishop Edward Malesic as he welcomed the faithful to the 10 a.m. Mass on Aug. 15 in Holy Rosary Church in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. The liturgy is a highlight of the parish’s annual feast of the Assumption celebration.
“Thank you to Father Joe Previte (Holy Rosary pastor) for having me today and my brother priests who are concelebrating. I also thank each of you -- a community willing to take their faith to the streets,” the bishop said, referring to the traditional procession that would follow the Mass.
(See photo gallery above.)
Joining Bishop Malesic and Father Previte as concelebrants for the liturgy were several other priests who had served at Holy Rosary through the years in various ways such as pastor, deacon or transitional deacon.
The festival is in its 123rd year with the Marian feast day falling on the final day of the four-day celebration this year.
In his homily, Father Previte thanked all who filled the church. Generations of families and new guests, including civic officials and dignitaries, were among those in the congregation. Sitting in the front pew was a 103-year-old longtime Holy Rosary parishioner who has joined in the feast celebration for decades.
“Without you being here it would just be an empty sanctuary,” said Father Previte as he thanked the faithful.
“Why are we all gathered here? The answer seems simple, right? Tradition, family, or you may have been invited. But the answer is deeper than that as we ultimately give praise to God for the gift of our Blessed Mother and her perpetual ‘Yes.’”
Father Previte explained how Mary’s life was filled with ways of always responding “Yes.”
“By processing through the streets we are showing our ‘yes’ boldly and profoundly, no matter what the world around us might be saying about our faith,” Father Previte said as he reminded the congregation that even Mary knew her “Yes” would cost her something.
Before he concluded, Father Previte had some words of remembrance for Bishop Anthony Pilla, who died last September just weeks after celebrating Mass and walking the street during last year’s feast of the Assumption.
“I asked for his intercession for good weather this year. I can’t canonize him, but I would like to think he blessed us with the wonderful weather this year,” Father Previte said, smiling. The remark elicited a laugh from those in attendance.
After Mass, thousands of people lined Mayfield Road outside the church to participate in and view the procession. It featured parishioners dressed in native clothing from the different regions of Italy, a statue of the Blessed Mother, children of the parish dressed as saints and angels, as well as clergy and faithful praying the rosary. After the procession, the Blessed Mother’s statue was placed in a special shrine area in the grotto of Holy Rosary.
The celebration concluded with a 7 p.m. Mass on Aug. 15 that was followed by a candlelight procession.