The President's Corner
This month I am reporting to you on another of Parma’s many places of worship. In fact, in mid-January I had the honor of meeting with Fr. Robert Wisniewski, Jr., pastor of St. Bridget of Kildare Roman Catholic Church, located at 5620 Hauserman Road. Our meeting proved how important this parish is to the neighborhoods of Parma it serves, as well as to the community as a whole.
“I grew up in Willowick, which is ‘east side Parma,’" Fr. Wisniewski mentioned in our talk. He finds a lot of positive parallels between his hometown and his adopted home. He added that Parma is “super-neighborly.” He illustrated by recalling when he was still a seminarian visiting one of Parma’s famous block parties with a friend. “You could tell that Parma residents looked out for each other and I still see it today,” he explained.
A Lake High School graduate, Fr. Wisniewski felt a vocation to the priesthood from a young age and, after a weekend program at Borromeo Seminary, he made his decision to actively discern this vocation. During his tenure at the seminary, he spent a year as an intern at St. Bridget. “I remember peering out the window of the rectory one day thinking, ‘I could serve here,’” he reminisced. After serving as an associate pastor at several area parishes, as fate would have it, Bishop Anthony Pilla appointed him pastor at St. Bridget’s on February 1, 2005. He is only the third pastor of the parish in its over 60 year history.
As has been a theme in this column, the growth of Parma’s faith community mirrored the burgeoning population of the 1950s and 1960s. St. Bridget Church was born during this time of incredible growth. In fact, the parish was founded in 1956 as a sister parish to Parma’s St. Charles Borromeo. Prior to that, the property had served as a landing strip for small aircraft. The founding pastor, Fr. Theodore Blair, was serving as an associate pastor at St. Charles at the time.
Founded as St. Bridget Parish, Fr. Wisniewski explained that there are two St. Bridgets in the Catholic Church, one from Ireland and another from Sweden. Early in his tenure, knowing the parish was named in honor of Bridget of Ireland, he successfully petitioned Bishop Richard Lennon to have the parish officially named "St. Bridget of Kildare Parish."
The parish offers many services and events to its parishioners and the community, at large, including its kindergarten through eighth grade school. “St. Bridget is very mindful of the poor,” Fr. Wisniewski mentioned. “I continue to be inspired by how generous the parishioners are when called to help others in need, in the spirit of their patroness,” he added. He added that there are several examples where someone in the Parish was in need and the community came together to help with their time and/or treasure. Further, the Good Samaritan Ministry collects thousands of dollars every year to assist needy in the area, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Parish groups also hold several food drives, take meals to the ill, offer tuition assistance when families are experiencing financial distress, among other programs.
I wish to thank Fr. Wisniewski for inviting me to his Parish and making me feel at home. However, this comes as no surprise, as anyone who visits St. Bridget will have the same feeling. To find out more visit their website at stbridgetparma.com or call the Parish office at (440) 886-4434.
In closing, I must apologize to Fr. James Batcha, pastor of Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church, which was the subject of last month’s column. The article stated that he graduated from Holy Name High School in 1972, however, he did so in 1976. Further, it stated that he began his service in Minneapolis. However, he began in Parma as an associate pastor at St. John’s Cathedral, then served as associate at Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church, then served as administrator at St. John’s in Minneapolis before coming back to northeast Ohio. My deep apologies to my friend Fr. Batcha.
Parma City Council President Sean Brennan