Just returned from a trip to snowy Ohio. I’ll post more in the next day or so, but wanted to offer a glimpse of the parish where I led a Lenten retreat on Saturday: Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Aurora, in the Diocese of Youngstown.
Two FOBs (Friends of the Bench) stopped by for part of the retreat: Fr. Tom Weber and Fr. Dan Schlegel, from the neighboring Diocese of Cleveland.
Fr. Jim Daprile and his staff did a superb job organizing this event and really made me feel right at home.
It’s a terrific parish: vibrant, dynamic, full of the Holy Spirit. It was a privilege to spend time with these great folks and walk part of the journey with them this Lent.
It was also great to take part in a a contemporary liturgy very different from what I usually experience in my home parish (which, I like to joke, is so High Church, it’s almost Anglican.) The three weekend Masses were all well-attended, and the 11 am on Sunday seemed to be almost at capacity; the church, I’m told, fits about 600 people. The Mass was aimed at the youth, and the place was rocking with enthusiastic praise music and electric guitars.
The church building itself is modern, with a lot of light and open space (and an intimate prayer chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, seen below.)
They have a lively youth ministry—lots of families with young kids, too—and Fr. Jim seems to know every person in the parish by name. He’s also doing a lot with a little; many places around Ohio have one priest overseeing multiple parishes. Fr. Jim is the only priest in Aurora, so he handles the three weekend Masses, plus the daily Masses, funerals, baptisms and weddings. (He also has a deacon, but he’s out of town for a few months right now).
He gets invaluable support from his pastoral associate, Sister Lu Haldnick, CDP (shown above) and Margaret Ann Clapp, his DRE, along with a small army of staff members. Together, they somehow keep the plates spinning without breaking.
God love ’em all.
And thank you, Aurora, for making Deacon Gary feel so welcome.