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Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic

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Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte

News of the Diocese

February 16, 2023

Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte
Diaconal candidates called to ministry of acolyte

Holy Spirit Parish in Garfield Heights welcomed members of the permanent diaconate community, including those in formation, their families and friends, to a liturgy at which five of the diaconal candidates were instituted into the ministry of acolyte.

Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost celebrated the liturgy on Feb. 11 and was the homilist. Bishop Edward Malesic offered remarks after Mass.

“It is important to gather as Church to celebrate this call to ministry,” Bishop Woost said. “It is good that we gather here this afternoon.”

Those installed as acolytes and their home parishes are Edward Linsky, Holy Angels Parish, Bainbridge; Christopher Loxterman, St. Mary Parish, Chardon; Darrel T. Sherman, St. Peter Parish, North Ridgeville; Mark Tomecko, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Medina; and John Zarbo, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Fairport Harbor.

Bishop Woost noted that Bishop Malesic called the men recently to this ministry. “Tonight we recognize their call,” he said, explaining the congregation just witnessed the call of the Church as each man’s name was announced and he came forward and bowed before the altar and the bishop. He said the faithful would support them in their ministry.

The bishop outlined the rite of institution, explaining that the five men would stand before the altar and there would be a moment of silence during which prayers would be offered for them and God’s blessing would be sought for them. Then each would come to the bishop and kneel to receive the paten containing hosts that would be consecrated at the Mass.

“We are asking God to make them worthy servants of the Church, worthy ministers of the Church to serve at the table of the Lord,” Bishop Woost said. But their call is more than being good liturgical ministers, he said, explaining that they seek to be imbued with the Spirit.

As acolytes, they will assist at the altar, distribute Communion to the faithful, bring the Eucharist to the sick, homebound and dying and expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration as well as teach the faith.

“It’s not about getting the ritual right,” Bishop Woost said, noting the acolytes must be attentive to the faithful. He said Christ missioned each of us to finish the proclamation of the Gospel that he began. He illustrated this by pointing out how Father David Nestler, Holy Spirit’s pastor, stepped in to complete the proclamation of the Gospel after the deacon was unable to finish it. “That’s what it means to be in the service of the altar,” he added.

It’s not always easy to follow Christ, the bishop said. “He challenges us to be more than we are. We can’t even begin to imagine what the Lord has in store for us.”

God can and will use us as instruments of his presence in the world. “Be Christ for one another. Make your lives worthy of your service,” Bishop Woost said.

After Mass, Bishop Malesic also thanked the Holy Spirit community for their warm welcome and the vibrant liturgy, which included music, song and liturgical dance.

“I think this is Capuchin week for me,” he quipped, noting he spent time with two Capuchins who oversee the Franciscan formation program at the diocesan seminary, he participated in the liturgy at Holy Spirit, which is staffed by the Capuchin Franciscans, and he was celebrating Mass for the 170th anniversary of St. Peter Parish in downtown Cleveland on Feb. 12. St. Peter’s also is staffed by Capuchin Franciscans.

The bishop noted he had been invited to install the acolytes but asked Bishop Woost to take his place since he is a new bishop. “I wanted to give him the opportunity to celebrate the liturgy instituting the acolytes for his first time,” he added. “And congratulations to the five men who were instituted as acolytes. You are answering your baptismal call to grow closer to the word of God.”

This step is a necessary one before they can be ordained as permanent deacons for the diocese, “please God, sometime in the future,” he said, “Thanks for having ears big enough to hear God’s call and hearts strong enough to answer it.”

The bishop also acknowledged Sister Jane Nesmith, who recently joined the diocese as director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries. “What a treasure we have in her,” he said.

“This is a special family of faith in the Diocese of Cleveland,” the bishop said, referring to Holy Spirit Parish. “I’ve met a number of you over my two years as bishop here and I truly have enjoyed being with you.”

He said Holy Spirit is known to be a place of great evangelization, noting he can see that the faithful proclaim God’s word not just in their speech, but also in their actions. He invited them to continue following the call of Pope St. Paul VI by giving witness to their faith and being ambassadors for Jesus.

“And that leads to what you do in service to the Gospel,” he said.

The bishop reminded the congregation that there are three things that make a parish great: good worship, courageous evangelization and loving service. “But these three reasons for a parish must be clothed in a spirit of welcome,” he added.

Noting it was Black History Month, Bishop Malesic said he wanted to acknowledge publicly two Black saints in the making, Venerable Pierre Toussaint and Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman.

Toussaint, born a slave in Haiti in 1766, is on the way to becoming North America’s first Black saint. He is credited as being the father of Catholic Charities in New York, raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage and starting the first school for Black children there. He helped care for the sick during a yellow fever epidemic and founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a community of Black nuns in Baltimore, Maryland.

Sister Bowman, born in 1937, dedicated her life to serving the poor and marginalized. As director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, she attacked racial prejudice and promoted cultural awareness and sensitivity. In 1989, a few months before she died of breast cancer, she spoke to the bishops of the United States about what it meant to be Black in this country, recalling the history of enslavement, oppression and exploitation. After her speech, the bishops stood, swayed and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

“That was the miracle that happened at the U.S. bishops’ meeting in 1989. I wish I would have been a bishop at the time to have experienced it,” Bishop Malesic said.

“We pray for ourselves that we will never fail to understand that our power as followers of Jesus comes in our loving, not by hating. And we pray for victims of abuse, including victims of racism,” he said.

“As we enter Lent, may we ask the Lord to wash away the ashes of sin in our own hearts and replace them with the waters of grace so that we may worship in spirit and in truth, proclaim the Gospel in its beauty and serve the Lord with gladness.”

Men interested in learning more about the permanent diaconate formation program should click here to contact Deacon George Malec, program director.

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