Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Feb 14, 2024

Today is the First Sunday of Lent and we are reminded that, as we begin this holy season, we are to pray, fast, and give alms to the poor. In this, we can grow in our relationship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Lent is a time for growth; a time for us to turn away from our sin and return to God with greater faith and love. By making sacrifices, we can come to a deeper realization that the only thing we really need in our lives is our relationship with God. The only way we can really grow in a relationship with God is through the Church and Her sacramental life. By participating in the sacramental life of the Church, we do grow closer to God and to one another.

Lent is a time to put God where He belongs, at the center of our lives. We can make an effort to come to Mass more often than just on Sundays. We can go to Stations of the Cross and Benediction on Wednesdays or Fridays, see the bulletin for times.  We can make sure we get to confession soon. We can participate in the Parish Mission on March 24. We can make visits to the Blessed Sacrament. We can just pray more at home with our families. We have so many opportunities; so please, make that special effort during this holy season and you won’t be sorry.

Today, at the 10:30 Mass, we will celebrate the Rite of Sending during which we will pray for our catechumens and candidates as we send them to Bishop Malesic, who will celebrate the Rite of Election with them and many others from parishes all over the Diocese of Cleveland. These brothers and sisters of ours have been meeting every week since September to learn about our Catholic Faith so that they can be baptized or received into full communion with the Church on Holy Saturday.  This year we have a very large group of catechumens and candidates.  There are around thirty-five men, women, and children of all kinds of backgrounds and ages.  Please keep them in your prayers as they approach the Easter Sacraments.

We all know that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a very important part of our spiritual lives and helps us in our relationship with God and others, but we do not use this sacrament as often as we should. To make the sacrament more convenient, the diocese is trying something new this Lent. On the evening of Wednesday, February 28, from 5:00-8:00 pm, ALL the churches in the eight counties of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland will open their doors and offer the Sacrament of Penance…confession. Catholics across the Diocese are asked to invite someone who may have been away from the faith, for whatever reason, to participate at this special time as an occasion to return.

Don’t Give Up Chocolate for Lent: Join Dynamic Catholic for Best Lent Ever, a free email program designed to help you have a life-changing Lent.  You will receive short inspirational videos, practical tips, and study guides for individuals or groups.  This program is based on Matthew Kelly’s book, Resisting Happiness, and will help you identify what stands between you and happiness… and what to do about it.  To have the best Lent ever go to and sign up.

Our annual Iron Chef Competition was a huge success with around three hundred people in attendance and eleven chefs.  Our St. Vincent de Paul Society was able to raise over $70,000, which will go for the continued work of St. Vincent de Paul.  Thanks to the generosity and kindness of our parish community, our local community, and of course, the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, we are able to serve the needy in the Wadsworth, Rittman, and Doylestown areas.  There are so many generous and sacrificing people who share their blessings from God with those who are not so blessed.  This is exactly what God has planned and why He may bless some more than others just so we can share His love and blessings with others.  May God bless all who made this event such a success helping those in need.

Last Saturday we had a delightful evening celebrating World Marriage Day.  Around thirty couples gathered for the celebration and enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Leach’s.  We enjoyed a very entertaining version of the Newly Wed Game with four couples participating; married for 7 months to 38 years; hosted by Chris Serger.  I am very grateful to our parish council members and their spouses, Kathy Calhoun, Tricia Husser, Ryan McNeill, and Beth Marzano, for putting it all together.  It was a great evening.  Mark your calendar for next year for Saturday, February 15.   It is a blessed way to celebrate your marriage with your Valentine!

Fr. Joe Labak