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Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic

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Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men

News of the Diocese

March 23, 2023

Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men
Annual Diocese of Cleveland Men’s Conference attracts 400 men

The day was cold and blustery with occasional snow flurries, but the atmosphere at the 22nd annual Diocese of Cleveland Catholic Men’s Conference was warm and inviting. More than 400 men, from high school age to senior citizens, packed the Parish Life Center at St. Albert the Great Parish in North Royalton.

“Why Pursue Holiness?” was this year’s theme.

Sponsored by the Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Northeast Ohio, the conference featured speakers, affirmation of clergy, prayer, music, opportunities for confession and a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Malesic.

“God speaks to us in many ways. He would like you to take the time today to listen closely to him. He may speak to you through one of our speakers, through your confessor or even through the man sitting next to you. Try and be open to what he has to say,” said Steve Chrzanowski, CMFNEO president.

Chrzanowski and Jim Kilcoyne, CMFNEO vice president, said the men’s conference was a way to help attendees grow spiritually. However, they emphasized that more than an annual conference is needed to build and maintain spirituality. They encouraged the men to join a Catholic men’s fellowship group to help them find regular ways to grow closer to God.

(See photo gallery above.)

“We must seek Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives: in our families, at work, in leisure and on our knees,” Chrzanowski said. “Jesus will be faithful to us. He said he would be with us to the end of time. Jesus Christ is the answer. He is the only answer.”

Primary speakers at the program were Bear Woznick and Matthew Leonard.

Woznick, who lives in Hawaii with his wife and four children, is an author, certified public accountant, podcaster and athlete.

Leonard is a teacher, a Texas native who lives in Ohio, is an author, speaker, filmmaker, podcaster, former missionary and a convert to Catholicism. He is vice president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

The bishop began his homily with a humor, noting what he called “a few great truths” that children learn at an early age. These include: you can’t baptize a cat; when your mom is angry at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair; you can’t trust your dog to watch your food; and school lunches stick to the wall.

“Children are blind to the facts of life. In fact, it’s entertaining to watch them begin to see many truths as they become known to them,” he said.

The Gospel told the story of a man blind from birth who was given sight by Jesus.

“First, he sees Jesus with his new physical sight. But not long after, he comes to see Jesus with the eyes of faith. Let me say that the pursuit of holiness, the theme of this year’s men’s conference, is an invitation to see Jesus as he is – and more than to see him – to follow him as Lord and God. But we can only follow Jesus when we see him and hear him with those eyes and ears of faith,” the bishop explained. “To know Jesus is more than knowing about Jesus.”

He pointed out the man born blind was in contrast with the Pharisees, who were born with sight, yet they were blind to who Jesus really was. The bishop said they couldn’t see beyond his flesh to the glory within him that Peter, James and John had seen on the mountain of transfiguration.

“The blind man saw what the Pharisees did not,” the bishop added, noting there are many sighted people who are blind to the truth. He used examples of those who pass a beggar and never feel compassion. Or those who can’t see that an unborn child is a person with the same right to life that they enjoy. Or a person who is dying from addiction and can’t see that they need help.

“The blindness that some people have in their soul is dark indeed,” he said.

However, Jesus proved that he was the light of the world and healed the blind man by smearing some mud on the man’s eyes and telling him to clean himself with water. But the man’s journey to complete sight didn’t happen all at once. He came to know Jesus as a prophet first, and later saw him for who he really was.

The bishop said those attending the men’s conference came to express their faith, to deepen it and to find a more personal relationship with Jesus. However, sometimes sin gets in the way and makes the sight of our faith fuzzy, obstructed and blurred.

“We sometimes see the Lord with our heads – knowing the catechism of the Church – but miss him with our hearts,” he said. “We should know the Lord with both our minds and our hearts. Then, Jesus will point out that he is present in the hungry, thirsty, imprisoned and naked of this world.”

He also is present sacramentally, in the bread and wine we offer that is consecrated by the priest at Mass thus becoming the body and blood of Christ, the bishop said.

It is important to listen to Jesus in the readings at Mass and by reading sacred Scripture.

“If we leave Mass and gossip, we are blind to the presence of Jesus in the person we are speaking about. If we are unloving, we are blind to the presence of Jesus within us who wants us to show his love to our neighbors,” the bishop said.

“Holiness requires us to see Jesus and then worship him, It requires having eyes wide enough to see the divine mystery that surrounds us that many simply don’t see,” he added.

“If you are like me, we all have blind spots – those places that are dark and need to be lighted up. Pray to the Lord for healing, for sight so that you might see him and say, ‘I do believe, Lord.’ It is important that we let Jesus cure the blindness that keeps us from seeing him as he is,” the bishop told those gathered for the conference.

It’s also important to remember that Jesus sees us for who we really are – his brothers, sons of the Father and destined for eternity.

“Look at yourself with the eyes of Jesus – a man who is called for more. And then walk with the eyes of faith as a man of God to the Son of God,” Bishop Malesic said.

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