Pastor assigned to childhood parish
WARREN — Warren native the Rev. Christopher Cicero was appointed pastor for Blessed Sacrament Parish and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Warren. The appointment was made by the Diocese of Youngstown, effective in August.
Cicero was ordained July 17, 2010. He has served more than two years as the parochial vicar at St. Christine Parish, Youngstown, and was appointed pastor of St. Jude Parish, Columbiana, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, East Palestine, on Feb. 1, 2014.
He splits his time between the parishes with a schedule of Masses at Blessed Sacrament and the two churches of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — the St. James Church and the SS. Cyril and Methodius sites.
“I get to all three places each weekend for the Masses. I do three Masses per weekend and another priest does two. There are five Masses each weekend in the two parishes,” Cicero said.
Cicero said growing up in Warren, he attended St. James Parish.
“I had calling to the priesthood. My main influence was not only being in a Catholic family but the Catholic schools as I went through the Warren parochial school system at St. James and St. Mary and John F. Kennedy. That experience was one of the leading factors for me responding to the call to the priesthood. The pastors I had growing up also had influence on me. Father Charles Crumbley was my pastor, who had an impact on me,” Cicero said.
Cicero entered the seminary at Pontifical College Josephinum when he was a sophomore in college in Columbus and then to the North American College in Rome.
After his stints in Youngstown and Columbiana County, he returned home.
“It is very unusual that when I went to East Palestine in Columbiana, I only knew one person. When I came here (Blessed Sacrament), I recognized a lot of faces, and a lot of people knew my family. My family had Cicero’s Market in town, so many people knew them. Many of the customers are parishioners,” he said.
Cicero said in his job as priest, everything he does is meaningful in terms of mission and ministry.
“Everything from celebrating the ministry and preaching and teaching the faith is what I enjoy,” he said.
The churches have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
“We are dealing with it well. I feel the people have been very cooperative. While there are those who do not come to church to protect their health, that is fine and what they should do. There are many others who have come back. They are getting used to being at church and wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands,” he said.
He said many parishes are looking at what will be taking place during Christmas, when large numbers of people come to Mass.
“We are working on a plan to accommodate as many people as possible and keep everyone safe. We are looking at ways to help people who can’t come to church celebrate Christmas such as livestreaming Masses online on Facebook. We have to see how to celebrate Christmas without packing 800 people in the church,” he said.
Since starting in August, Cicero said he has been focusing on the sense of sacred reverence in the liturgy and making God the central focus of the celebration of Mass and everything done at the church.
He said catechism is important in teaching the church’s doctrine for Catholic schools and adult programs.
“Christian service is very important, so reaching out to the needy who have material or emotional needs or loneliness. Community building is important and happens in many different ways. It involves people getting together and knowing each other. That usually happens best when people work together. Things that accomplish that are like fundraisers. SS. Cyril and Methodius does this when they make pirogies and kalachis. They do this with a sense of mission,” he said.
He said he has seen at the two parishes a community of people who care for each other and are extremely dedicated to their faith.