Ordinary Time

June, the beginning of summer, vacations, graduations, weddings, and other events that bring family and friends together.  As we celebrate all these events, it seems almost contradictory that this month falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.  There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time when it comes to our Catholic faith.   

Ordinary Time is when we celebrate Christ’s life and death and June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In this time of the liturgical year the Church is donned in the color green as a symbol of hope of the resurrection.  We celebrate Christ’s life and death and through the image of the Sacred Heart, His love for each of us.  These symbols of new life and love inform us of Christ’s conquering death giving to each of us the gift of salvation and the hope of eternal life with Him in paradise.  

Many find it difficult to celebrate the events that are a part of the beginning of each summer.  Loss makes any celebration difficult.  In this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, find comfort in knowing that God’s love for each of us is boundless.  Seek refuge in His pierced heart of Christ as it is in His suffering that He understands your pain and it is in His sacrifice that we find the gift of paradise.

God Bless   

Andrej N. Lah

President / CEO

New Beginnings…Faith, Hope and Remembrance

Blog written: June 15, 2021

June 2021 will be remembered as a special time in our lives. Over a year has passed since our world was besieged by the Covid-19 Global Pandemic and the resulting lockdown and isolation that ensued.

June is also a time of new beginnings and renewed life. Spring has sprung and flowers are in bloom. The world and our communities are re-opening. Returning to a sense of normalcy with the opening of restaurants, venues and most importantly, a return to our Church’s in-person liturgical celebrations, brings a renewed sense of hope. June brings me, full circle, back to my Catholic roots. I am honored to be the newly appointed Marketing and Communications Manager at Catholic Cemeteries Association.

I am excited to begin my new marketing role at Catholic Cemeteries Association. Pulling into the entrance of the corporate offices gave me a sense of coming full circle. My grandparents, Frank and Mildred Gallagher, along with other relatives, are buried here, at Calvary Cemetery. Up until two years ago, I had only been here as a young girl when my grandparents were buried. In the summer of 2019, I was at a burial of my friend’s father. I knew my grandparents were buried here and I had just discovered the CCA app for locating burial plots at any of the 19 CCA cemeteries. Unbelievable as it might seem, I put in their names and their burial location was on the same hillside as the burial site of my friend’s father. Using the GPS feature, I found their headstones and felt so happy to be able to say a prayer at their graveside. Little did I know that two years later, I would be working here, looking out on the grounds of Calvary where they are resting. 

June is also a significant month for a few other reasons. On June 11th and throughout the month, we focus on The Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of my first social media posts for CCA included the painting that I have had in our home throughout our marriage and raising our family. This is significant to me personally, because my grandfather was a leader and active member of Cleveland’s Sacred Heart of Jesus organization. His devotion to The Sacred Heart of Jesus influenced his 10 children and eventually, their children (all 50+ cousins of mine) to keep our faith alive and to “live” our faith. Displaying the Picture of The Sacred Heart of Jesus in our homes, throughout my life, to this day, is a daily reminder to try to dedicate our day to His work and serving others. 

This Sunday, June 20th, we celebrate Father’s Day. It is a bittersweet time for those of us who have lost our own fathers. My father passed away on June 24th, 18 years ago, this year. He passed two years after, to the day, as my maternal grandmother. This past weekend, I traveled to Pennsylvania and visited the gravesite of my maternal grandparents, John and Julia Sheredy. It was on my grandfather’s birthday, June 12th.  You can see that June has been a time of remembrance for me and it has also brought me full circle, as I start this new role at CCA. To remember our loved ones is bittersweet, yes. It is also hopeful. The legacy of faith that our loved ones have shared is a gift. In living their faith, they have instilled within us, the hope that keeping the love of Christ alive within us brings. The beautiful part of our faith is the hope of eternal life to come.  I am grateful for our fathers and for the time in June where we are called to remember their legacy of hope and faith. I am grateful for coming full circle and look forward to serving here at Catholic Cemeteries Association.

In peace,

Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan, BEE, MBA

Marketing and Communications Manager

Catholic Cemeteries Association

8 Attainable Resolutions for the Bereaved

For those who have lost a loved one, new year’s resolutions come down to personal preference. For some, the idea of a resolution may seem too overwhelming at the time– similar to starting a new project or chore in the midst of extreme sorrow. For others, resolutions serve as an inspirational and motivational tool that helps them cope with grief and grow as a person. Whether or not you choose to take on a new year’s resolution is entirely up to you and where you are on your grief journey. However, if you are interested in taking on a new year’s resolution, keep reading for some ideas!

Recognize your strengths

Losing a loved one can install feelings of weakness or helplessness. Start the new year by making a list of your personal strengths, your blessings, and your dreams. Take action and leverage your strengths to accomplish new goals and cope with your grief.

Slow down

Make sure that you aren’t using a busy schedule or work life to cope with your grief. Not only does that make for an unhealthy healing, but it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make a promise in this new year to slow down and take more time for yourself.

Attend a support group

Support groups are a great way to cope with your grief. Sharing experiences within a support group is a way for all involved to grieve in a healthy and constructive way. (Interested in joining a support group? Click here.)

Try a new hobby

It’s never too late to learn something new. If you feel stagnant or if you feel stuck, pick up a new hobby and see where it takes you. Whether it’s photography, sewing, or hiking– find something new to learn and enjoy to bring some excitement in your life.

Get 20 minutes of sunlight or fresh air each day

Fresh air and sunlight can do wonderful things for the mind, body, and spirit. While it may be tempting to stay indoors all day, try to get outside for at least 20 minutes each day. Even if it’s just in your backyard.

Speak your loved one’s name

Keep the memory of your loved one alive in the new year by speaking their name often. The key to grieving is not to forget, but to remember with hope that you will one day be reunited.

Start a journal

Journaling can be a great way to cope with grief and express your emotions. Think of journaling as a personal letter to God. What are you feeling? What are your hopes? Share these with him and see where the journey takes you. Try to make it a daily habit—God likes to hear from us every day.

Be open to happiness

While there will always be a part of you that misses your loved one dearly, never forget to be open to happiness and new experiences. Pay attention to the blessings God has placed in your life, big and small.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Ben Stefanski: Business, Family, and Faith

We are taught as Catholics to find a passion and use that passion to serve God and others. This certainly is no easy fete, but there are a few people who have seemed to accomplish this goal exactly. Ben Stefanski, a well-known business man and devout Catholic was able to turn his business into an opportunity to serve those in his local community, helping them accomplish their own dreams. Read more to learn about this influential Cleveland figure.

Ben Stefanski was born in January 1902 in the Broadway neighborhood in Cleveland. This neighborhood was well known for its strong Polish-American culture, making it the perfect place for Stefanski’s parents, William and Anna, to settle down. Staying in the Cleveland area throughout his life, Stefanski attended Fullerton School as well as South and East Technical high schools growing up. Stefanski then decided to pursue higher education and attended Cleveland Business college and even participated in extra course work from the American Savings and Loan Institute. Little did Stefanski know that this education would result in the founding of one of the most successful saving institutions in Cleveland’s history.

In 1937, Stefanski married Gerome Rita Rutkowski. While honeymooning in Washington, D.C. the newlyweds applied for a federal charter. This charter was designated to found a new savings and loan company. Within the following year, the Third Federal Savings and Loan Association of Cleveland was established. With Stefanski as its leader, the association flourished. It’s stated that the core mission of the association was (and still is!) “helping the working man attain a home of his own.” This mission, which led to the association’s great success, led to some criticism in the 1980’s as some suggested that the association was too “old fashioned.” However, Third Federal proceeded to grow throughout the decade. By 1995 the association boasted 21 offices and an estimated $4.6 billion in assets. Stefanski remained leader of the association until his retirement in 1987.

ben stefanski 1
Photo Credit

While Stefanski is certainly known for his success in the field of business, he was also known for his devotion to family, community, and faith. He and his wife had five children: Ben, Hermine, Abigail, Floyd, and Marc. Marc would take his father’s place as Chairman of Third Federal upon his retirement. As a proud Polish-American citizen, Ben Stefanski was honored by both the Polish American Congress and the Polish Legion. As a devout Catholic, Stefanski donated one million dollars in 1965 to the Catholic High School Building fund. Stefanski passed away in October of 1991 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery (Sec#8, Lot#95, Grave#4). His name and legacy live on in the association he built, as well as the people who he served throughout his lifetime.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

John Seelie: Pearl Harbor Survivor

In September of this year, the Catholic Cemeteries Association had the honor of care taking for the final remains one of this country’s final Pearl Harbor survivors: John Seelie. A man of pure dedication to faith, family, and country, his experiences provide us with a glimpse of what so many men and women sacrifice for the good of our country each and every day—willingly placing themselves in the path of danger and uncertainty. Keep reading to learn more about this brave American solider.

John Seelie
Photo Credit 

John Seelie was born on November 25, 1922. When he was only 18 years old, Seelie decided to enlist in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Hayes in Columbus, OH. Only a year later Seelie was transferred to Schonfield Barracks Oahu with the 65th Combat Engineers, 25th Infantry Division with the mission to protect Wheeler Field, a U.S. air base. According to Seelie’s public Facebook page, this transfer was decided by the flip of a coin by his captain. Seelie and another solider were transferred to Hawaii, whereas two other soldiers were transferred to the Philippines. While this may at first seem like a rather unlucky test of fate for Seelie, the two soldiers that were sent to the Philippines did not survive.

That is not to say, of course, that Seelie’s time at Hawaii was without its own tragedy. On the morning of December 7th, 1941 Seelie was just waking up when he recalled seeing the first of the Japanese planes. In a 2009 interview Seelie tells of his experience firsthand:

“We grabbed our M-1 rifles and our redesigned steel helmets we had just been issued, a couple of .30 caliber machine guns and ran outside. We had no ammunition because it was all locked up to keep it away from saboteurs. We asked the sergeant to open the ammunition room, but he had no orders to do that. So we broke the door down to get to the ammo. We started firing at the planes. Whether we knocked an enemy plane down nobody knows.”

Seelie was one of the lucky survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, and paid constant tribute to those who had fallen by attending yearly memorial services and recounting his experiences to all who would listen.

Seelie passed away on August 11th, 2017. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH (Sec#7, Lot#152, Grave#1). May his dedication and service to our country inspire us all.

Information gathered from: https://pearlharbormemorials.com/survivor-john-seelie/ 

Post written by Katie Karpinski