St. John of the Cross finds niche in social action

Fr. Fortuna is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School, Borromeo Seminary and St. Mary Seminary. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland in 1980. Fr. Joe subsequently earned a doctorate at the Catholic University of America. He became Pastor of Our Lady of the Lake in February 2010, and continues to teach at St. Mary Seminary as an adjunct professor.

St. John of The Cross Catholic parish was the first of Euclid’s three new parishes to merge, following the Cleveland diocese’s almost two-year clustering efforts. Father Sal Ruggeri, as the newly appointed pastor, has many goals for this new parish; “Christ’s vision was the Great Commission, which tells us, as Christians, to go forth and spread the Good News. This should be what drives everything that we do. With this at the heart of our purpose for existence, we believe God’s vision for us is to be ‘a caring community,’ committed to providing an environment where all, including children and young people, adults and seniors can meet Christ and grow in their faith.”

Toward that end, Fr. Sal said that the new parish was continuing with some of the ministries from St. Felicitas and St. Paul, the two parishes from which St. John of The Cross formed, and developing new ones. An example of this is the continuation of Interfaith Hospitality Network, where the parish plays host to homeless families for one week, every few months. Parish volunteers help collect and provide necessary items for their visitors, and spend time with them in their role as host.

Newer efforts for the parish will continue to focus on social justice issues and youth ministries. Fr. Sal hopes to send a contingent of parish youth to next year’s World Youth Day in Madrid, as well begin an annual mission trip to Higuey, Dominican Republic.

Fr. Sal indicated that the joining of the two former parishes of St. Felicitas and St. Paul into one, has not been without its challenges. But overall, he said he’s been hearing “we and them” and “theirs and ours” less and less.

When asked about how he thinks this new parish will fit in the Euclid community, he said, “We have to see ourselves as part of the wider community and to help to not only address the needs of our parishioners, but to look at how we can help to share the Good News throughout Euclid. I believe that it is our responsibility to share the love within our parish communities with those in our greater communities.” He said that he and the other Euclid Catholic pastors meet frequently to discuss general issues and collectively support each other. Fr. Sal said that St. John of The Cross will be collaborating with the other Euclid parishes, Ss. Robert and William, and Our Lady of the Lake, for various events and efforts, such as communal penance services and a city-wide mission. Even the three Catholic schools in Euclid, he added, are looking for ways to collaborate. An example of the school collaboration is a teacher’s retreat planned to take place later in the summer.

Looking to the future, Fr. Sal sees great potential in this new parish. He described a pastoral planning effort that will kick off in the fall and involve parishioners for the better part of a year, setting the course for the parish for the next several years, specifically, and ten years peripherally. He said he will work with the Parish Council to take this input to create a parish mission statement and to set goals for the parish based on what the parishioners want and what the parish can reasonably do. “My vision is, and should always be, inclusive of the vision of the people and the next year will very much be focused on looking toward our future.”

Read More on Faith
Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 1:17 PM, 07.28.2010