Church to lead with joy and gratitude, even in pandemic, says Bishop Edward C. Malesic – Morning Journal
In this time of pandemic and uncertainty, Catholics in the Cleveland area must have an attitude of joyful gratitude to lead others to Jesus, said the head of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
On August 6, Bishop Edward C. Malesic addressed Elyria at the reopening of the Lorain County First Friday Forum for its first gathering in over a year.
The First Friday Forum is a series of monthly breakfasts with speakers discussing issues of faith, theology and the Catholic Church.
About 190 people came to Lorain County Community College for Malesic’s speech.
Malesic was installed in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland in September, succeeding Bishop Nelson Perez, who became Archbishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia.
As he visited parishes in northern Ohio, it emerged that the First Friday Forum was his first major public speech in Lorain County.
His speech focused on his background and career before the novel coronavirus pandemic, life and the Catholic Church during the worst of COVID-19 and what Catholics in the region need to do next.
To set up
Malesic said he sometimes felt like the father of a family with 650,000 children – and sometimes they quarreled.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the residents of northern Ohio are some of the warmest and friendliest people he has ever known.
Mass, prayer and evangelism continued during the pandemic, Malesic said, and everyone did their best.
Malesic has advocated for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the best way to stop the spread of the disease.
Later in his speech, he conceded that parish priests could also help parishioners get vaccinated.
But a personal conversation about the vaccine might be more compelling than preaching it from the pulpit, Malesic said.
The requirement for attendance at mass has been suspended at the worst of the pandemic, he said.
Catholics are again required to attend their churches for Sunday worship.
There is new uncertainty as cases of COVID-19 now increase, especially among the unvaccinated, Malesic said.
People and parishes need to balance the vaccine with their need for community.
“We need to be together, we just need to be together,” Malesic said. “We’re Catholic Americans, we’re used to getting things done, and we will. “
School in session
During the pandemic, many Catholic schools remained open with distance learning and in-person classes were not a major source of the spread of COVID-19, Malesic said.
Even before the pandemic, Catholic schools faced declining enrollment, rising costs and challenges for leadership, he said.
Yet schools are the best ministry for educating young people about Jesus, Malesic said.
Malesic has launched ‘Keeping the Faith: The Future of Catholic Elementary Schools’, an initiative with a team that will draft a strategic plan by May 2022, for implementation during the 2022-2023 school year.
The goal is to identify strategies to keep schools grounded in the Catholic faith while striving for academic excellence and being as available and affordable as possible, Malesic said.
He added that he hopes the plan will become a model for parish religion schools, high schools and adult religious training.
Count your blessings
Catholics are blessed people and they should act as though they are blessed and be grateful for the blessings, Malesic said.
No one wants to join a church full of complainers, he said.
These are difficult times with a pandemic, intense political divisions, tensions in the church and attacks on life in the womb and on the family, which is the lifeblood of the country, Malesic said.
There seems to be a general air of incivility, outrage, agitation, violence and general confusion everywhere everywhere – none of which is a sign of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Malesic said.
He cited the Bible, including Peter’s first letter, Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Thessalonians.
These passages command Catholics to recognize their gifts, use them to serve others, and give thanks to God in all things, Malesic said.
Gratitude is embedded in everything Catholics do, Malesic said, citing John 3:16, one of the most famous passages in the New Testament about God giving the gift of Jesus his son for the salvation of the world.
“If we truly believe this, then hope flows and gratitude abounds, even during the difficult times we live in,” he said.
The Lorain County First Friday Forum will continue with speakers in September, October and November.
For more information, call the reservation line at 440-244-0643 or email [email protected]