Our Lady of the Lake parish brings hope and positive message to community

The Euclid Observer featured the merged Catholic parish of Saints Robert and William last month. This month, the Euclid Observer shares the progress of the merger of the St. Christine and Holy Cross parishes, which culminated in the celebration of the inaugural mass for the new formed parish of Our Lady of the Lake on Feb. 14. Father Joseph Fortuna, the pastor of Our Lady of the Lake, has been working closely with staff and parishioners to move toward what he said will be a “new normal.”

Fr. Joe admitted that the parish merger has been complicated because, he said in a sense it was bigger than the two parishes. St. Christine had a staff and Holy Cross had a staff, and the merger brought in a new pastor. He said they have been learning about each other, all the while getting a new parish up and running. He said he and his staff have been deliberately cognizant of each others’ feelings, which takes longer because of the grieving process [of losing a parish] everyone has had to go through.

He said the parish as been working hard to build the foundation necessary to carry out the church’s mission. The church mission, he explained, is to discover, announce and promote the reign of God, and how that is done varies in each parish. He is working with his staff and parish to assess what God wants the parish of Our Lady of the Lake to do and determine how.

One of the biggest challenges he sees to this is the diversity that encompasses his parish and the community it serves.  He said finding the right culture for the parish will take time before parishioners will feel as if it is their own. Despite the challenges associated with the widely diverse parish, Fr. Joe views it as a real plus, a source of giftedness and possibility, and one reason why he applied to become the pastor of the new parish.

It is Fr. Joe’s hope, admittedly ambitious, that in the next five years the parish has taken those steps needed toward having cultures encounter each other and enrich each other for the benefit of the church, as it carries out its mission.

Fr. Joe has been working proactively to this end. He has made a number of visits to parishioners’ homes, meeting with groups of parishioners, to provide a sharing of opinions and issues. He has asked them to be frank; discussing what is on their minds. Fr. Joe said this has been good for parishioners and him as well. He has also been working with small subsets of the parish, but he admits that there is no way he can quickly get to know everyone. He earnestly wants to get to know the parish as a more significant level, and have them know him. The feedback he has received so far indicates the parishioners appreciate that he is listening.

So it seems the dust is beginning to settle at this Catholic parish. Danni Hubbard, the parish’s pastoral minister commented, “As we get settled in and better acquainted with each other, we look forward to being part of a strong, vibrant Catholic presence in Euclid.”

Kitty Cooper, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Lake, shares those sentiments. “Father Joe Fortuna is cognizant of people’s feelings as he helps create the new parish, and reaches out to those who are looking for a spiritual home.”

Rounding out the cluster is the Saint John of the Cross. Father Sal Ruggeri serves as pastor for this parish formed from the merged communities of Saint Felicitas and Saint Paul Catholic churches. The Euclid Observer will feature this new parish next month.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 1:37 PM, 06.24.2010