Clair (Abe) and Dorothy Abel’s Story
Our three children, Mary Lou, Scott, and Rosemary attended St, Clement School. After retiring from hospital nursing in 1988, Dorothy worked with Sr. Mary Ann and the school luncheon program, volunteered at Lakewood Christian Service Center, giving food to the needy. Spending time in the adoration chapel, as a member of St. Vincent DePaul Society and as a Clementine’s member were gratifying. Helping with church Christmas decorations and donut Sundays with other faithful parishioners was enjoyable. Dorothy was also active in trying to save Lakewood Hospital!
Many years ago, Abe and Dorothy volunteered at CYO basketball games at Cleveland Cudel Recreation Center. Abe was happy to donate craft items to St. Clement Church raffles. He surely enjoyed making many crafts in his big garage!
Abe & Dorothy have been blessed with 63 years of marriage April 4th. After leaving our Alger Road home of 50 years, we are thankful we can make monthly trips to St. Clement Church from our Avon Lake Senior Living Apartment, It sure is nice to see old friends and neighbors! Beautiful St. Joseph Church is also very friendly.
Sheila Becker’s Story
I have so many memories of St. Clement Parish. I was baptized and received First Holy Communion here. My husband, Jerry, and I were married here, as were three of my children.
I attended all eight years at St. Clement School and sent my children to school here. I remember marching out to piano music every day. The nuns were many, and no-nonsense. We feared the ruler on our own knuckles. Miss Seedlock, the third grade teacher, was a favorite of many of us. We had four priests who would play ball with us in the school yard. My husband coached eighth grade basketball for many years.
My mother would help Dennis Fisher clean the church on Saturday, and then would attend a Holy Hour.
It was wonderful growing up in St. Clement Parish. I’ve always been grateful to be a member.
Cecelia Mohar Brown’s Story
I went to St. Clement grade school from 1st to 8th. I graduated in 1959. All my memories are all wonderful. Beautiful and capable nuns, the Sisters of St. Joseph order, taught here. They were kind, but tough when needed to be.
I remember Msgr. Schmidt’s funeral. We all came from school into the rectory to pass by his coffin.
My husband Ron and I were married here by Fr. Waldren in 1966. Aside from some years at St. Mark’s, we have been home here at St. Clement: A wonderful place to end our time on earth. God bless St. Clement Parish!
Bernardine Caja’s Story
I am grateful to be a member of St. Clement Parish for 62 years. I consider it home. It has been a place of learning, growth, support, healing and all else a home offers. It has been a source of 3 major areas of growth in my spiritual and temporal life.
In the 70s under Fr. Sweeney’s direction, St Clement school started THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER HOME PROGRAM. Until then, we had taught our sons prayers, the rosary, Mass, etc., but this program taught us a new way to pray as a family and from our hearts. It encouraged us and our sons to share whatever we wanted our Father to hear.
In the 80s was asked by Fr. Rogers to teach in the CCD program and in spite of sending our sons to Catholic school because we did not feel qualified to instruct them, I, with some hesitation, agreed. (It was hard to say no to a priest.) This forced me to study, take some diocese required courses, and to grow in knowledge of our faith. A huge step for a timid, stay at home mom.
But for me the greatest of all gifts was to be granted the privilege of lector. It was way back in the 60s when women were not aloud in the sanctuary except to clean. A youth Mass was offered on Sunday evening. At this Mass, women and girls were often doing the readings. At the 6:30 a.m. weekday Mass, there was no reader. So when I heard about the youth Mass, I dared to ask Fr. Sweeney if I could read at the 6:30 a.m. Mass. It was not an easy thing for me to do, and it took some effort to convince Father that, with the help of a mic, I would be heard in spite of my not too powerful voice. And so I became the reader at the 6:30 a.m. Mass. That meant more growth, as I had to prepare by reading and rereading daily “The Word of the Lord”. What a blessing. Amazing how God works to help us grow, know and love Him more and more!
Richard Caja’s Story: Holy Hour is No Sacrifice
I wonder how many people realize one of St. Clement’s strongest assets? Anyone has the opportunity to visit the chapel at any time. At first, I thought “I will try this out; I’ll sacrifice some of my valuable time”. After all, it may look good on my resume to get into heaven. I soon realized this is no sacrifice at all.
One of the amazing things about my holy hour is the realization of how desperately God wants me to be there. Isn’t that ironic? It is I who desperately need Him, and He, well He is God; how can the creator of all things have even the slightest interest in a person as non-important as me? But then again I have learned that God’s ways are not always what I think is obvious. One of mankind’s dangerous pitfalls is pride: pride in thinking that we know how things should be, what is best, etc.
The presence of God at the chapel is so tangible. After a while you feel His presence in that room so strongly that it would be quite intimidating if not for His unbelievable compassion and love. I really do not mean to sound so religiously charismatic, but I can’t talk about my holy hour experience without mentioning the tangible feeling of His presence.
On the surface, it may seem like we get very little out of just a one hour visit, but God tenaciously works to make us better persons … perhaps just a little at a time. I find my hatreds lessened, my tolerance increased.
In today’s world security is an illusion. Jobs are lost. Marriages dissolve. Loved ones die. The only sure thing is God’s love for us, whether we deserve it or not. If you have your doubts, take a visit to the chapel, just around the corner of Lincoln and Madison.
Erica Chew’s Story
Today is my third time here. I grew up in the Catholic Church; my Papa was one of the pastoral ministers who started La Sagrada Familia.
I am new to the area, and I’m five months pregnant. I would like to have my baby christened here because everyone is so kind, down-to-earth and welcoming. That is what I would like to bring my child into, a very happy and spiritual place of love.
Pat Cichowicz’s Story
I taught for one year in the 1980’s. I was in the new section, teaching the 7th and 8th grade science.
What a great experience that was! They were very focused on their projects, and they were fun. We could not use the hall for the science projects, so we showed them in the library as mini science fairs.
What smart kids! The projects were very well done. I was impressed. The parents of those kids can be very proud. They were great kids to teach.
Kathy Dean & The Entire Christmas Decorating Committee’s Story
Our tradition is to have pop and pizza on our break—but the fun part was eating it in the back rows of church!
Joe & Linda Dippong’s Story
We came to St. Clement Church in the summer of 2010 when St. James closed. After more than 30 years, we were forced to find a new parish family. At first we visited other neighboring parishes, some of which our friends had chosen, but we spent most of our time attending Mass at St. Clement. Eventually we wandered downstairs after Mass to the donut sale and social and were welcomed by friendly faces, who invited us to join them. As we shared our story, we felt their genuine concern for our situation. As the weeks and months went by, we agreed that we had found our new home. When we registered, Fr. Workman invited us to become Eucharistic Ministers and asked Joe to serve at funerals. We took instructions and were commissioned as Eucharistic Ministers. It has been an honor and a privilege to give the Body and Blood of Christ to our parish community, especially the homebound.
In addition to our worship, we have enjoyed many social activities, such as potluck suppers as well as religious education programs. We have also gone on a few bus trips, which we have found extremely enjoyable. We continue to meet new friends and establish lasting relationships with our parish family. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in 2018 with Mass and dinner afterward with our family and friends in the church hall.
In 2019, we sold our home in Lakewood and moved to Broadview Hts. We made a commitment to continue at St. Clement. So every week, we make the 50-mile round-trip to worship with our friends at St. Clement. We hope to be able to continue to do so for many years to come.
Sean Duffy’s Story
I joined Saint Clement in 2003 after the birth of my first son. Prior to that, I was a very lapsed Catholic. I recall a few years prior to joining, driving home and passing a man on sidewalk waving his hand in distress asking for help. I passed him, thinking, “Poor guy. I’d like to help, but what if he is dangerous?” That memory haunted me. Fast forward a few years after I joined Saint Clement. I met another gentleman in distress, a man at Saint Clement who had just lost his home. I gave him some money and good luck, but this time I stuck with it. I continued to occasionally see him at Saint Clement, and I continued to engage him. We have since known each other for over a decade. He still has many struggles, but is in a better place. He gives thanks to God and Jesus for keeping him safe and giving him friends like me. It is I, however, who give thanks to God for reminding me to see Jesus in everyone.
Tom Fahey’s Story: When We Were Kids
When we were kids – we all dressed up for mass and we left feeling holy still smelling the incense. When we were little kids – the mass was said in mysterious Latin and we looked at the back of the priest. When we were older kids – they spoke in English the priest facing us staring at our sinful souls.
On Saturdays we would shuffle off to church and enter the little room – slightly bigger than a casket – that smelled of Murphy’s Oil Soap – and adult transgressions saying the words “Bless me father for have sinned…” – and proceed to tell God’s messenger of all the misdeeds that a 10 year old can commit.
When we were kids – we were taught by nuns – who wore black and white – who saw the world in black and white – who terrified us and made us learn or suffer the consequences of hell and damnation. They would punish us with a ruler – and a paddle – and a twist of the ear. But often when we got home our parent’s punishments were worse.
When we were kids – we road our bikes through Lakewood – and the valley – and beyond. Exploring our world – running through back yards picking fruit from trees left over from when our city was an orchard. We played in the playgrounds – on the swings – on the slides -and on the monkey bars. We played ball at the school playgrounds – pick up games -and CYO. Our parents rarely came to the games like we do today. We were left to our own devices and inventions much of the time -and we made up creative games like “off the wall” “buck buck” and “king of the hill”. We were sort of like the kids in the Peanuts cartoon – without an adult in sight.
When we were kids – born as we were in the middle of the baby boom. Our fathers with memories of World War II and the Great Depression. Our older brothers and cousins and neighbors – went off to a place called Vietnam. And we watched it nightly on TV – with Cronkite and LBJ – giving us the count – them 97 dead – us 12 dead and yet we still lost.
When we were kids television went from black and white to color. And we watched Disney – and Martin Luther King – and a man on the moon and Jim Brown – and The Beatles – and we were amazed! When we were kids we heard Sister Madonna’s voice – Telling us that John F Kennedy had been shot – few minutes later that he had died – and they dismissed us to go home and we shuffled back to our parents – who were sad – and had to explain to us why our leader – a fellow Catholic – had been taken from us. And years later – his brother also was murdered. And there were no answers. We seemed like innocents in a time that has lost its way.
When we were kids – we had such dreams of greatness – and wonderful deeds of being more than what we were of going past our own existence – of achievements and daring and maybe even fame. Most of those dreams – as most dreams do faded away to wishes. We moved on to the craziness of the teenage years – the striving of our careers. Many of us raised families – and see the dreams of our children. And we root for them so!
Today we are older and grayer – some are balder and fatter. I might be a little wiser but I don’t know for sure what I knew then for sure – when we were kids. know am happy to be still alive – with a spark of the spunk that I had back then. With family and friends that am there for – and who are there for me. Tonight is a night for us to look back – and remember – and wonder.
When we were kids we were really something!
Louise and Bud Gorman‘s Story
One of my special memories at St. Clement was volunteering for the Senior Clementine and Friends. The ministry consisted of older adults from the five Lakewood parishes (and a Lutheran couple). The parishes were closing and it was a sad time for all, but especially for the older folks. The ministry was established by Sister Kathy Thomas to give people a place to meet former friends and to have fun. The 12 volunteers, who were in their seventies and eighties, were the most dedicated group I have met.
The programs consisted of: a presentation by a parishioner who as a young solider helped release prisoners from concentration camp after world war II, Lakewood police regarding senior safety, a Peruvian volunteer gave a wonderful presentation of her homeland. A memorable program was Christmas songs sung by the LCA children’s choir. (Santa and an elf also appeared!) and there was lots of music and a little dancing. (jitterbug when the Lakewood High Jazz band came. Conga line, anyone?)
The last day of the program was sad but they ALL had great memories.
We appreciate Mike Kotansky and his alternate Brian Andrews for bringing holy communion to our house for the past several years (except during Covid lockdown). Also, thank you to Father Workman for administrating the anointing of the sick.
Mary Hanna’s Story
When I was in 8th grade (1955-56) we had a girls’ club that met on Monday nights in the church hall. We played games and danced; usually the boys hung around outside until we left.
In high school, we had the Madonna Club. Fr. Hackman was the moderator. He was great. I remember painting scenery for a play during the summer. We went on a trip to Deerfield Village in Michagan. I also played CYO girls’ basketball in the high school. Then we played girls’ basketball with 3 girls on defense and 3 girls on offense – we couldn’t cross the center line. We played all over at different schools. I remember going to West Tech to play.
Kay Hayton’s Story
Larry and I joined St. Clement Parish in September 1964, when we purchased our first home in Lakewood. Of our six children, three were married at St. Clement’s and Larry and I renewed our vows twice, on our 40th and 50th wedding anniversaries. We were planning our 60th, but, unfortunately, he was in a rehab hospital at the time of our anniversary and died shortly after.
During our years at St. Clement, we have been blessed with three wonderful pastors. Each inspired different ideals. Fr. Sweeney always spoke of “be anxious”, Fr. Winters of “mystery”, and Fr. Workman “be not afraid”.
We have enjoyed an active life in the parish. In the early years, as a family, we were involved in the Cub Scouts. Later, I joined the ladies’ guild. As a couple, we were involved with the renewals through participation and helping with their presentation. In our later years, Larry was on the Finance Council, we became Eucharistic Ministers, worked with a team of weekly collection counters and as members of our choir for several years. The choir was Larry’s passion. I had to give it up because of other responsibilities, but he continued on until the pandemic.
All in all, St. Clement has been a very spiritually fulfilling parish with some great leaders, fellow parishioners, and fun activities. Whenever I attend Mass, it always feels like I have come home.
Karen Hruska’s Story
In 7th and 8th grades at St. Clement School I was taught by Sr Ellen Marie. When she had to leave the classroom for a few moments, she told us to start working on our homework. I discovered that by using those minutes wisely, it took much less time to finish my homework at night. Gradually I began to use my spare minutes at lunchtime. In those days we went home for lunch. On a good day, I had minimal homework to complete in the evening. Sometimes none! Learning to use time wisely was a wonderful lesson!
Arlene Inks’s Story
I have many wonderful memories of being a member of St. Clement Parish. I have made many lifetime friendships that I cherish to this day.
My husband and I joined St. Clement’s Parish when we relocated from Pennsylvania over 50 years ago and made our home in Lakewood. We raised our three children, Lynne, Don, and Matt, in the parish and school. The St. Clement’s Parish family became our family since we moved away from our hometown in Pennsylvania. We experienced and were involved in many activities within the parish and school throughout the years. These activities included Christ Renews His Parish ,the Ladies Guild, bingo, volunteering in the school library and the athletic board, member of the school board with a short stint as president, volunteering and fundraising for various other activities at both the parish and the school. We as a family are forever grateful for our parish family, our faith and the lasting friendships that developed as a result of us becoming involved in the St. Clement community.
Carm Kelly’s Story
When asked to write a special memory as a parishioner at St. Clement, many came to mind. One of the most memorable ones was a conversation I had with Fr. Winters. As a faculty member of St. Clement School, several faculty members discussed the possibility of painting the school walls, which hadn’t been done in many years. After coming up with a plan, I was to schedule a meeting with Father Winters, present “our plan”, and ask permission to move forward with it.
The meeting went as I expected. He looked at me, gave me the “hum” he was good at giving me, and said he didn’t think that it would be something that could be accomplished and the parish didn’t have the funds to paint the school. The plan we presented was, we would get volunteers to come into the school on a Friday evening and paint the entire school. All the paint and supplies would be donated, and this would be accomplished before the bell rang on Monday morning. We received Father’s permission and moved forward with “the plan”.
The donated supplies and paint arrived, the scaffolding was set up, and a great number of volunteers worked tirelessly to accomplish our goal of painting the school over the weekend. The entire project showed the love and dedication the parishioners have for the parish and the school. It was an accomplishment that, not only the volunteers would be talking about for years to come, but everyone who stepped into the school. It was great to hear the excitement as the students came to school Monday morning.
Lastly, before we finished on Sunday evening, Father Winters walked into the school, shook his head and smiled at all the volunteers. We all knew we had gotten his “stamp of approval” on accomplishing a great parish project.
Kathleen Linsenmeyer’s Story
The cornerstone for St. Clement Church was laid in 1922. This was also a symbolic cornerstone for Jim and Jane Higgins, whose parents joined the parish in 1922. Jim was five years old but he remembers when the fund raising, 180 degrees different than today, was a “smoker” with beer, hot dogs and boxing in the church basement.
After graduating from St. Clement School in 1931, in the depths of the Depression, the idea of attending Cathedral Latin High School was an impossible dream. That is, until Father Schmit promised to pay the tuition for any boy who would strive hard and bring a good report card to him for approval.
During the years after high school Jim and his sister, Jane, joined in the active social program, the Clementine Club, where Jim met Therese Dussault in a play called “School Daze.” He was “Mr. Education” and she was “Pansy Bluebell.”
Now, 55 years married, the Higgins’ value the education provided by the Sisters of St. Joseph for themselves and their nine children. Therese volunteered in the school library with Mrs. Rhoney and Jim was President of the Holy Name Society for an active term.
All seven of their boys participated in CYO athletics under the guidance of Ken Brunner and Bill Nortz; while their two daughters had music lessons with Sr. Monica Marie. Jim has been committed to the Adoration Chapel for 14 years. Both Therese and Jim continue to attend Mass every Sunday and sometimes during the week. “What a life, what a wonderful life”, exclaims Therese.
Barb Pollock’s (“Miss Barbara”) Story
St.Clement is FAMILY! I went to school there, taught there for 43 years (5 as co-principal) until we merged into LCA where I was for one year. St. Clement supported me when mom died, allowed me to volunteer when needed and be a Eucharistic Minister. Now that I’m homebound, they’re still here. Mrs. Caja brings me Communion and Sue Simmons keeps me up to date. I have been blessed with special friends from this spiritual family. This parish family is unique in so many ways! What a blessing they are in my life!
Sarah Reinwald’s Story
When I was in college, we would all gather back at Mom and Dad’s house on Christmas Eve. You see, it, too, is the day of my brother’s birthday. In the evening we would have a big dinner celebrating Aaron’s day. Then when it was around 10p.m. we would get ready to, all walk down our luminary lit street, to celebrate another birthday, Jesus’s, at St. Clement.
Jackie Ronan’s Story
Eighteen years ago, I made a big decision to convert to Catholicism and leave my church family at Lakewood Methodist. I began my journey at St Lukes and planned to attend their RCIA program. I believe that the Holy Spirit had a different plan for me.
One Monday night, as I attempted to attend my first RCIA class at St Luke’s, I was directed by one of the Sisters at their convent to go over to St. Clement Church as the classes were going to be combined. (It turned out that wasn’t the case).
I found my way over to St. Clement, found my way down to the basement classroom in the old school and was greeted by Father Winters, Sister Mary Jane and the support team, Kim, Bonnie, Jack and Sean. That was it. I had found my new home, my new church family, and the rest is history.
I knew that this welcoming parish and the prayerful RCIA group was the right path for me. I was happy to become part of the RCIA support team for 10 years so that I could welcome and support others on their journey.
I pray that St Clement’s will remain a prayerful, welcoming parish for another 100 years!
Ann Saluga’s Story
…the priest who made decorations and things (that he and his mother made) to hand out.
…the retired school teacher at 8 a.m. Mass who would tell me “Have a good one,” as in a good day.
St. Clement people are welcoming and friendly, down-to-earth people. The essentials are there: the focus on the work of the church, the community, and caring: All the same thing I guess. Caring is the work; caring creates community and sustains it.
A friendly face, a hello, or someone you see at a particular Mass is part of that feeling that it’s your “church home” or “spiritual home”. Fathers, Deacon, and the church staff. The work is who they are, and it is done without fanfare.
I’m so very grateful, since some people can’t get to church for health or other reasons. I try not to take attending Mass for granted, for to attend Mass is a blessing.
Dave & Patty Santell’s Story
The years our three children attended the PSR Program, between 1986 to early 1990’s, Donna Fiening and Lois Vejdovk were a great guidance for all of us, spiritually as were the years I spent as a greeter, prior to COVID, with Pat and Dick Gelb and Tim Speer. Miss them all.
Jean Smith’s Story: Salutations Are the Best Invitations
None of us is on an island unto ourselves. We have all received much to be grateful for, and each of us has the capacity to give to others our time, talents, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, my experiences as a parishioner at St. Clement have given me many blessings, for which I am grateful.
Our family moved to Lakewood in 1979, and I returned to the parish where I grew up. On occasion I would attend Mass at St. Clement.
At the same time, my sister was the housekeeper of the rectory, and her mother-in-law was the cook. Both always spoke of the uplifting community at St. Clement. So, when my family and I moved to Brown Road, we became members in 1981.
My nieces attended the school, and, with that, I came to see them make their First Communion with Fr. Sweeney and Fr. Bednar. Fr. Sweeney was a great priest, who always looked out for his parishioners, especially the children who went to school here. He made sure every child had a place in the school, and if there was a financial issue regarding tuition payments, he always worked with the parents who were struggling. He was like the good shepherd attending his flock. Fr. Bednar was a jovial priest who always had a smile on his face and shared his love of God with us.
When we moved into our rental home on Brown Road, I was introduced to Fr. Bednar’s family, who lived downstairs. I came to know Father Bednar and his family; they supported me during a pregnancy where I lost our baby. Fr. Bednar was there for me and prayed with us during this sad time in our lives. This really impressed me, and I began to go to weekly Sunday Mass and found the community to be so welcoming.
Most of the parishioners did not know me personally, nor that my sister worked in the rectory. When my family walked into the church, we were immediately welcomed by a greeter who said, “Welcome to St. Clement’s. We are so glad you are here.” The greeter introduced herself and asked us our names, and then guided us into the church. Before Mass started, we were introduced to one of the ushers, who helped us get our kids into a pew. I remember him well: Frank Hoban who was involved in many parish ministries, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society. As we sat down, Frank invited my family to bring the gifts to the altar. I was amazed we were asked to do this, since we were new to this parish, and I felt filled with welcoming grace.
Many people helped us acclimate to our new church home. Our children were young, and we enrolled them in the PSR program; we found it to be a great program for them to learn about the love of Jesus. I was a preschooler teacher and was asked if I’d be interested in teaching in the program. It was a wonderful opportunity to become acquainted with others and to share my gift of teaching with our community.
In so many ways, the people of St. Clement became my second family. Over the years I have come to know people through participation in ministries, including PSR, Catechist of the Good Shepherd, Confirmation Prep, School Board, Eucharistic Ministry, Parish Council and our Music Ministry. In these ministries, I learned from others and also shared the gifts I have with others as God calls us to do.
The outreach in this community has always amazed me. Not only do we attend Mass together, we pray together and for one another. When we had financial issues, my children’s school tuition was paid by an anonymous parishioner. On another occasion, my husband had emergency surgery, and a few days later, I was diagnosed with a blood clot. We were both immobile. The response from the St. Clement community was tremendous. People brought us food; others did our laundry and helped get our children to school. They brought Christmas gifts for our children to open on Christmas Day, since we were unable to shop.
On a lighter note, my first son was a lively toddler and liked to talk at Mass. During the homily, he blurted out and a parishioner in front of us promptly took her missal and whacked him in the head. Fr. Sweeney saw this and immediately said, “Here we welcome the wee ones to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, not reprimanding them.” Fr. Sweeney opened my heart to the fullness of understanding that we are all God’s children and in our human weakness, we make mistakes.
This parish community has been a part of my life and remains vibrant, welcoming, and helpful to those in need. I am so grateful to be a part of the St. Clement Parish community. We have many different ministries that I have participated in because someone took the time to live out the teachings of Christ in welcoming me into this wonderful parish. I am ever grateful for these experiences that have helped me come to know how to be a model of Christ to others.
David Stark’s Story – Of the Green Pipe
Have you ever seen the green pipe near the ceiling in front of the stage? Years ago, the church hall was painted in a two-toned green design but was getting worn and old. So, the decision was made to repaint the hall and a two-tone blue color scheme was selected to be used. So a day was chosen and a large group of the parish men got together and painted the entire hall in one day. It was a great time and the hall looked very nice when we were done. Our Pastor, Fr. Sweeney came done to review the work and see the finished product. He congratulated us all and said he liked it, but he didn’t see any green in the hall anymore. And since his last name was Sweeney and he was of Irish decent, there had to be some green somewhere. So we realized we still had to paint that pipe, and got some green paint and painted the pipe in front of the stage green for Father Sweeney. When we showed him, he laughed and thanked us all. And it has stayed green ever since!
Patrick & Mary Tabeling’s Story
The year was 1984 when I took a new job, necessitating moving my wife Mary and 2 (small at that time) children from Toledo to Lakewood. We finally moved into a double on Warren Road, just north of Madison, where we lived until 1991 … moving into a house where we could continue attending St. Clement church.
It was shortly after we moved in when we discovered that St. Clement was the closest Catholic church. At that time, we gave our children the choice of attending Lakewood public schools or St. Clement. Neither of them was interested in having to wear a uniform to school, so the decision was Grant School. When it came to selecting a Catholic church to attend, we were overwhelmed to learn about all the choices at that time. The deciding factor when selecting a church came when we discovered that Father John Wessel was assigned at St. Clement.
You see, we have a long history with Father Wessel dating back to when my wife’s family knew him in Akron when he first came out of the seminary and was stationed at St. Bernard’s on Main St., near the university. My wife Mary tells stories of days when Father Wessel would come to her family picnics, playing frisbee while still wearing his Roman collar! It was rare, if ever, that you saw Father Wessel not wearing his cassock, gold cuff links, and Roman collar.
It was Father Wessel who presided over our wedding, which was held at St. Bernard’s on June 4, 1977. Since that time, Father Wessel has baptized our children, presided over their weddings, and come to our house for dinner on Thanksgiving and Easter … whenever he “didn’t have better fish to fry”.
We attended the Mass celebrating Father Wessel’s retirement as a priest. I fondly recall him always starting his homily with, “My dear friends in Christ”. Every year when the weather turned warmer, you could count on a homily about how the church is air-conditioned so shorts, shower thongs, and swimwear are not appropriate Mass attire. There were times when Father Wessel would try to make jokes during his homily by mentioning how the church smelled like moth balls when the seasons changed, necessitating parishioners to bring out their overcoats. He was always so serious, nobody knew if they were “allowed” to laugh.
We have many good memories as parishioners at St. Clement that include being an instructor with the PSR program, where I got to work with such good people as Donna Fiening, Lois Vejdovec, and Becky Zufall. Bob Zufall and I were in charge of the Youth Group, where we held car washes at the Shell gas station on the corner of Warren and Madison to raise funds so the students could socialize and participate in fun activities … like a trip to King’s Island. When our children went off to college, we handed instruction of the Youth Group over to Kathy and Max Sidley.
It was Virginia O’Brien who encouraged me to consider being a Lector. I’ve served at funeral Masses with Joe, and Ron, and I am a member of the Liturgy committee, first with Dick and Pat Geib, when we met at their home, and now with Karen, Bob, Katie, Mike and Bernie. It is here at St. Clement that I joined the Knights of Columbus so I could work with others to serve those in need. Finally, credit goes to Father Osilka and the Cluster committee for saving St. Clement from closing. It was their efforts that are allowing us the opportunity to celebrate 100 years!
Bill & Janet Trentel’s Story
It’s hard to believe our family has been members of the St. Clement parish family for more than half of the parish’s 100 years. So many highlights of our family’s history and spiritual lives have been shared together with our St. Clement family.
We moved into the parish in 1969. The Belle Avenue neighborhood, like most in Lakewood at the time, was full of large families filling the large homes, on our block — most of them being parish members. So the parish played a big roll, whether it was the school, CYO sports or religious celebrations. Being a family of six, we were only a medium-size group; others were twice our size. Summers were filled with games and activities from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. throughout the block with only a brief break for dinner when the moms would call us home from their front porches.
So many of our family highlights and memories include our parish. Baptisms, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, marriages and burials. In addition, there were CYO sports and CCD (PSR) and other social activities.
One special memory is serving as an altar server. Those were busy times at St. Clement, with many Masses (including multiple daily Masses) and a lot of weddings and funerals to cover. I remember an annual outing for the servers. We all piled into a tour bus and spent the day at Geauga Lake. I don’t remember much adult supervision besides Fr. Fallon. Once we got to the park we were free to roam and experience the rides at the park on our own. It was quite a time for a 12 – 13 year old!
Another memory is of CYO sports. I was never much of a sports kid, but my brothers and sisters were, and being on teams with the other kids in the neighborhood just added to the experience. Mr. Nortz, from across the street, seemed to run all the teams. I particularly remember the track and cross country teams and going at least once to the cinder track at Lakewood High School to set up the track for a meet. Those experiences encouraged me to have my family participate in those activities many years later and, to this day, and have enriched our family experience with our parish and faith.
One last memory was the baptism of my children, and one special summer. In 1997, my son arrived, and my brother and sister each had a baby. We all returned to St. Clement to have them baptized together at one wonderful celebration officiated by Fr. Winters, who had married both my sister and me. It was quite crowded around the baptismal font with six parents, and six godparents, and, of course, three babies. Following the Mass we all gathered in the church hall to celebrate with our family and our St. Clement family. What a glorious day!
These experiences, and so many more tying family, faith and our St. Clement family together over so many years and aspects of my life, really make St. Clement a special place for me.
Jeremy Vinluan’s Story
I moved to Cleveland from Virginia Beach, Virginia, back in September 2019. I eventually found Saint Clement few weeks later and made this my home parish.
A few weeks later, I went to a vigil Mass one Saturday. I was reading my Bible before Mass. I saw a woman walking in the pew in front of me and sat near me. After that Mass, the same woman turned her head toward me and told me that I would make a good priest.
A few months later, the beginning of the pandemic hit Ohio, and I had already forgotten what she looked like; however, I did not forget the kind words she said to me.
And now, two years later, I am still processing the great recent news that Bishop Edward Malesic had accepted me as a seminarian for the Diocese of Cleveland and had asked me to start my formation at Saint Mary Seminary this coming August.
I had told the same story of one of the holy women of Jerusalem to Father Mark Latcovich during my admission interviews last month. Father Latcovich told me that same woman might show up on my ordination day. Only God knows!
Thank you, Saint Clement parish!