Family

Family is such a unique and all-encompassing word. We use it to refer to immediate and extended family, adopted family and sometimes friends become family.  Ultimately, we are all a part of the human family.  This greater family tends to reinforce the idea that each of us is only separated from everyone on the planet by a mere six degrees and if you live in northeast Ohio, the separation is probably no more than three degrees. 

During this month dedicated to the Holy Family, we are reminded of the sacrifices we make for family and how much our love can bring joy,and in the same way, heartbreak.  Joseph had to decide to be a husband to a wife carrying a son not his own, and to be a father to that son.  Mary found herself unable to keep her son from going off into the world and ultimately watched His life brutally taken from Him.  We often forget that despite the miracles, this family was subjected to unimaginable suffering.  While we honor them as the Holy Family, we should never forget that in their humanity, they were a mom, dad, and son.

It is in this humanity that they are connected to us and suffer with us when tragedy strikes a member of our family.  We turn to the Holy Family because they lived a very human existence and suffered the death of their child. 

Each of us at the Catholic Cemeteries Association look to those we serve as members of our extended family.  Our hearts break when death brings a family to one of our Catholic cemeteries.  We understand that it is our responsibility to guide the family through the quagmire of their suffering and assist them with some difficult decisions.  It is impossible for us not to offer a piece of ourselves to that family and to carry a bit of the burden for them.  It is in this moment that we become family and, in our ministry, offer their suffering to God with the knowledge that Heaven is real, and Christ is the map to the new Eden.

God Bless each of you during this month dedicated to the Holy Family.     

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

February – A Month Dedicated to The Holy Family

holy family « nelson mcbs –

During this month of February, as we contemplate the cold and snowy weather, and sometimes feel the isolation that winter brings, let us reflect on the example of family love shared in the everyday lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. At this moment in time, there has arguably never been a more important need for the strength, unity and grounding that a strong family, rooted in faith provides.

Families are often our first exposure to prayer and faith. As “small domestic churches”, our homes introduce us to unconditional love, to prayer, and to living out Gospel values. We learn to share our faith by celebrating Mass in our greater family- the Church. Receiving the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, brings Jesus not only to us, but within us, where we then become witnesses to His love and can share in the hope and promise of eternal life. Actively living our lives as Christians, in an often hostile world, is taught to us- first by our heavenly Holy Family, and then by our earthly family. Pandemics, politics, tough economic hardship and trials of illness are all part of the earthly challenges that we may endure. Knowing that Jesus and His family endured even greater earthly challenges gives us reason to have hope.

Through times of grief and hardship, as experienced in the death of loved ones, we turn to our families and we become extended families for all who are suffering or in need of hope during their darkest times. The burden of grief can be lessened when we have that strong foundation of love and support, as exemplified in the Holy Family. We, at Catholic Cemeteries Association, extend our familial love to all who need support during their time of need. Let us all remember to use whatever difficult times that may loom ahead of us to draw upon the love of the Holy Family and our own families- and to be that supportive beacon of Christ’s light to anyone who we can help. In that way, we provide hope to all.

For more information on our ministry and the services we provide visit http://www.clecem.org.

In peace,

Kathleen G. McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

5 Ways to Make Lasting Memories This Holiday Season

Family is one of God’s greatest gifts to us here on Earth. The time we spend with them is something we should never take for granted.  The memories we make during the holidays can become even more important, as children grow up, cherished friends move away, or loved ones leave this world. Memories can remind us of happy times and the joy the Lord brings to our lives, providing hope during life’s must difficult times.

While simply being with your family can certainly spark some lasting memories, there are some meaningful activities you can do together that you will remember for years to come. Keep reading to learn more.

5 Ways to Make Lasting Memories

Cook or bake something together

Food is a great way to build bonds and share special moments. It appeals to all of your senses – touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. With so many senses involved, the memories made while cooking can be some of the most vibrant ones you make. Whether it’s creating a new recipe or fine-tuning a traditional one, spending time in the kitchen together is always time well-spent.

Decorate an ornament

If your family enjoys putting the Christmas tree up every year, consider creating a family ornament (or a few!) each year. Creating ornaments together gives each family member a chance to express their personal creativity. In the end, your ornaments will display a piece of each of your family members, and will be something you cherish year after year as you put your tree up.

Take photos/video

This might seem obvious, but making an effort to take pictures and video during the holidays is one of the best ways to preserve memories. Pictures provide literal snapshots of cherished family moments. It can also be fun to capture seemingly boring family rituals, such as snapping a few photos at a family dinner or getting a picture of the stockings hung on the fireplace. Whatever the case, photos are something you can physically hold on to as the years go by… just make sure the photos don’t overshadow the actual quality time you’re spending with your family!

Go somewhere new

Sometimes the best way to create a new memory is to go somewhere new! Experiencing something new as a family is exciting and will surely be something you remember for years to come. Maybe it’s seeing a new Christmas light show, visiting a special sledding hill, or even taking a winter walk through your local park. In any case, stepping outside your comfort zone is a great way to grow as a family, and maybe even create a new tradition!

Celebrate traditions

Speaking of new traditions, celebrating family traditions year after year is a great way to remember our loved ones and create lasting memories. Since traditions span decades and generations, participating in a special family custom each year can help your family feel more connected, both to those still on this earth and those who are no longer with us. While traditions may change and evolve with time, don’t underestimate the impact they can make on you and your family.

What are some ways you and your family create memories? Let us know in the comments below!

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Handling Mother’s Day: Comfort and Prayers for the Bereaved

As we approach Mother’s Day, many of us will be reminded of our mothers and the place they hold in our hearts. Whether our mother is still with us or has passed from this world, Mother’s Day is a special time to celebrate these women and the immense impact they have on our lives. It goes without saying that those who have lost their mother may experience added grief on this day. However, there are other groups of people who also experience additional pain or grief during this time: those who don’t have (or never had) a relationship with their mother, those who are unable to have children, couples who have suffered from miscarriage or stillborn children and all other special circumstances.

This Mother’s Day, be aware of your own emotions as well as those of others. If you find that Mother’s Day mass is too hard or painful to attend, spend the day worshiping from home. If you know someone is struggling with any of the situations listed above, or an equally difficult situation, make an effort to let them know you’re thinking about and praying for them. Wherever, however, and with whomever you celebrate this Mother’s Day, remember that Christ is with you and that His plan is far greater than the highs and the lows of our lives here on earth.

Take a look at the prayer below and share with others.

Dear God,
Thank you for the gift of motherhood. Thank you for the blessing it is to be called “Mom.” Thank you for the good plans you have in store for those who still wait to be a Mom. Thank you for the numerous spiritual children you have given to so many “spiritual moms” and mentors. We pray that you would fill this day with favor and grace as we honor Moms all around our nation.
We ask for comfort for those who are grieving loss and heartache, especially on this day. We ask for strength for those who wait for children to come back home. We ask for healing for those who have been hurt by relationships that were intended to be loving and nurturing. We ask for faith for those who will someday be Moms, who find themselves on a journey that seems so hard. We ask for great encouragement and grace to cover those who have made a brave and loving choice for adoption. We ask for incredible provision and care over every single parent mom who works so hard on behalf of her children. We ask that you would remind many of those who, though they do not have “physical” children, have the gift of being amazing hope-bringers to many spiritual children they’ve been blessed to nurture through these years.
God, thank you, for the gift of life. Thank you that your heart is for us, and that you are with us, in all our unique journeys and pathways. Thank you that you are Sovereign over every part of our lives.  Thank you that your ways are perfect and you make our footsteps secure.
Today we pray for refreshing, for joy, for grace, for wisdom, for great peace…for all moms, for moms to be, and for women who nurture and lead.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen. (source) 
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.

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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