Catholic teens help mark anniversary

GIRARD — Youth from parishes in Trumbull, Ashtabula, Columbiana and Mahoning counties led a special Mass at St. Rose Parish as part of the Diocese of Youngstown’s 75th year-long anniversary celebration.

Youth holding banners from their different counties proceeded down the center aisle of the parish to kick off the Mass, which also was led by Deacon Paul Milligan and Msgr. John Zuraw, both of St. Rose Parish, and Father Shawn Conoboy of SS. Mary and Joseph Parish in Newton Falls

“Jesus tells us that faith is much more than a gift. Faith is a choice. The choice reflects our behaviors,” said Zuraw, pastor of St. Rose.

The youth took part in scripture readings, communion and offering collections.

Zuraw asked the more than 200 people in attendance “If Jesus were in front of you, what question would you ask? If Jesus asked you what question would you like to ask me.”

Zuraw said the Diocese 75th year celebration marks the parishes being proud of the past and having faith in the future.

He said many past and present disciples faced fear.

Zuraw said Alan Simpson was the first black priest of the Diocese of Youngstown and he was ordained in 1943. He served at St. Patrick Parish in Kent.

“The pastor there did not want him there because of the color of his skin. He was not allowed to eat with the rest of the priests because of the color of his skin. He lived in the attic. Because of this, he lived in fear but he wanted to fulfill his ministry and persevered,” he said.

He said Emmet Walsh was the second bishop of the Youngstown Diocese.

On Sept. 2, 1954, lightning hit St. Columba Cathedral and the building burned to the ground.

“He realized he had a job to do. He and many faithful individuals rebuilt the cathedral and the cathedral stands as a living testimony today from fear and gratitude,” Zuraw said.

Zuraw said Bishop George Murry in April 2018 was in the hospital and the doctor had just told him he had acute leukemia right before Zuraw got there to see him.

“I walked into the hospital room and did not know what had just happened. He said we need to pray to God for guidance and direction in a time of fear and the unknown. These disciples of Christ did not allow fear to overcome them,” he said.

Zuraw said the three men have all impacted the history of the Diocese and moved from dark moments in their lives to those of great rejoicing.

Zuraw said the 75th anniversary shows the potential of each person.

“The 75th anniversary reminds us of the potential that each and every one of us has. The ability to change things and never lose that zest for life,” he said.

Zuraw and the others said special blessings for the youth and wished them well in their futures.

Cindy Case, director of youth and young adult ministries with the Diocese, said the youth will take part in various events throughout the year for the anniversary, which concludes in June 2019.