It’s official. After serving three years, 10 months and 21 days as administrator of Church of the Holy Angels in Chagrin Falls, Bishop Edward Malesic installed Father Max Cole as the parish’s fourth pastor. Holy Angels was established in 1977 as a mission of St. Rita Parish in Solon.
Father Cole signed the official documents and pledged to follow the Church’s teachings and the guidance of the bishop as he leads the approximately 9,000 parishioners at the parish. About a dozen fellow priests concelebrated the Sept. 29 liturgy, including Father John Singler, with whom he worked at his first assignment, and Father George Smiga, Holy Angels’ senior parochial vicar. Deacon Jerry Ziemkiewicz of the parish assisted at the Mass.
The celebration took place on the feast of the three archangels named in the Bible: Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, who are the parish’s patron saints.
“God gives us what we need,” Father Cole said in his homily, “We’re not meant to do this alone.” He said we are strengthened with the Body of Christ and we lift each other up. “We will live forever with him in his love.”
Father Cole said the archangels, are a gift to God’s Church, comparing that gift to another one. “He gave me to you and he gave you to me for support and love.”
During his nearly four years as parish administrator, Father Cole said much has been shared, He thanked the bishop for appointing him as pastor and for allowing him to minister to the parishioners. “And thank you for your blessing and your leadership. We’re here together for this celebration and we need to be here to be angels full of his grace and love to do his ministry.”
Father Cole noted that members of his family traveled to attend the installation Mass. He said the family started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved around.
“I’m here now and they are taking care of me,” he said of the parishioners as he addressed his family.
“We have the opportunity to change people’s lives. You’ve done it with me; let’s do it with everyone else.”
Bishop Malesic said he enjoys listening to pastors preach when he installs them. “I need to hear God’s word preached to me from time to time.”
He proceeded to describe a perfect pastor, drawing laughter from the congregation. “Every shepherd loves his sheep and I think I gave you one who really loves his sheep,” he said.
“Father Max, thank you for accepting the call, saying ‘yes’ to the priesthood and to this parish. My 11 years as a pastor were the happiest years of my priesthood. I hope these are the happiest years for you, too. Remember that you are the father of this parish,” the bishop said, explaining that he is serving as alter Christus or another Christ.
“The people here want to help you. Make good use of them,” the bishop said. “The Body of Christ has many parts and charisms, which need to be built up to shape us and taken into the world.”
Bishop Malesic told the congregation that his motto is Serve with Gladness.
“I see you can smile,” he said to a beaming Father Cole. “Go and evangelize,” he told those gathered, before he asked one more thing of Father Cole. “I want you to find your replacement,” he quipped, again drawing laughter.
The bishop said there are many vocations and each person is called to one, such as priest, marriage, single life or religious life, “Do what God calls you to do and you will be happy. WE have the truth that will help those who are looking for something,” he added.
After Mass, the bishop and Father Cole greeted the congregation before heading to the parish hall for a reception.