The feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, the patronal feast of Immaculate Conception Parish in Willoughby, was a joyful day for parishioners.
They welcomed Father Michael Troha back as their pastor, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the current church building and watched as Bishop Nelson Perez blessed a restored painting of the Blessed Mother. The large painting, which hung in the old church building, was removed from the wall during a remodeling when the structure was repurposed. The artwork was forgotten for a number of years until some parishioners accidentally discovered it recently. It was restored and now hangs in the side entranceway of the church.
Father Troha, who served as Immaculate Conception’s pastor from 2004 to 2013, said he was “glad to be back home. But I’m not the most popular guy at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish,” he quipped. He spent the last five years leading the historic parish on Cleveland’s West Side before answering the call to return to Immaculate Conception.
Bishop Perez said if Father Troha’s installation was chronicled like what St. Luke wrote in the day’s Gospel, it would say this “happened when Trump was president, Kasich was governor and Perez was bishop.”
He told the congregation that we are all on a journey preparing for that moment when the Lord will come again. Advent becomes a new year in which the story is told. “It’s not a new story. The story stays the same, but we change,” he said. “Society finds us in different places each time the story is told. Last year, Father Troha was at St. Ignatius and this year, he’s back here. Seven years ago, I was pastor of a parish in Philadelphia. Now I’m here in Cleveland, but I stopped in New York for five years,” the bishop added.
The Lord wants us to remain steadfast and prayerful, he said.
“This is a new chapter for this parish like Advent is a new year for the Church. But one thing remains certain: the abiding love of Christ. The Lord has been present in the midst of the Church through all of its ups and downs,” the bishop said, and he will remain with us.
Father Troha said he was glad to be back at Immaculate Conception. “It’s like a dream.” He thanked the St. Ignatius parishioners who travelled to attend the installation Mass. “This is a new start, a new beginning for our parish. I have lots of prayer and fasting to do and I’m getting started right away,” he added.
Father Troha, who was ordained in 1980, served at St. Therese Parish in Garfield Heights; Immaculate Conception Parish in Cleveland; St. Rose of Lima in Cleveland; and St. Bridget of Kildare in Parma. In addition, he did two stints as a U.S. Air Force chaplain and served at the diocesan mission in El Salvador.