Diocese Hosts Three-Day Joint Canonists’ Conference
About 65 canonists from 14 states gathered at Cathedral Square Plaza, seat of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, for a joint conference May 16-18.
The Midwest Canon Law Society and the Eastern Regional Conference of Canonists heard presentations from various speakers. Presenters from the Diocese of Cleveland included Fr. Gary Yanus, Judicial Vicar; Bishop Edward Malesic; Vincent Gardiner, chancellor; and Father Richard Bona, Deputy Judicial Vicar.
(See photo gallery above.)
In his welcome address, Bishop Malesic noted that, like the members of the group, he is also a canon lawyer. He shared information about the diocese explaining that it was established in 1847 and is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, is one of the nation’s largest social service networks.
The bishop said that in 1935 the diocese hosted the Seventh Eucharistic Congress, which drew tens of thousands of people. “Now we are working on eucharistic renewal,” he said, referring to the multi-year initiative launched by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The local event is scheduled to start on June 11.
He also spoke briefly about the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, located across from the diocesan offices. Construction began in 1848 and the cathedral underwent major reconstruction, expansion and renovation works from 1946 to 1948. Currently, it is undergoing extensive exterior renovation.
Father Yanus invited the group to visit an exhibit assembled by Emily Ahlin, Diocesan Archivist, featuring artifacts and events from the 175-year history of the Diocese of Cleveland.
On May 17, Bishop Malesic celebrated Mass for the group in the cathedral, with 15 priests from the group concelebrating.
In his homily, he spoke briefly about his foray into canon law, which he had never anticipated. “When I became a priest, I only wanted to be a pastor,” he said. But, when his bishop asked him to study canon law, he agreed – although somewhat reluctantly at first. He studied at the Catholic University of America.
“I met people who wanted to use the law as a help, not a hammer,” he said. The bishop noted that he had great teachers who brought the law to life. “I also found most of you to be a lot of fun,” he joked.
By studying Canon Law, Bishop Malesic said he was enriched as a follower of Jesus and as a person in ways he could never have imagined. “The heart of a canon lawyer is shaped by Christ with truth and charity. We must meet Christ in our practice of the law. We must seek him and his peace,” the Bishop said, noting that peace was the main theme of today’s Gospel.
From time to time, most of us will experience a void in our prayer lives, but Jesus assures us that we will not be abandoned, he said. And when canonists are faced with a difficult case, finding the peace of Christ will help them cope.
“We find God in many places,” he said, mentioning a child’s smile and the sun hidden in the clouds. “The sensitivity of our faith tells us that the sun will rise and peace will come. Jesus will calm the storms and lead us to the other side at the end of our earthly life. Let’s go to bed with the peace of Jesus in our hearts and rest because we know that Jesus will take care of all things.
After mass, the group headed to a nearby restaurant for a social hour and dinner. The conference ended on May 18.
The diocese will host a much larger meeting of canonists when the Canon Law Society of America meets in October in Cleveland for its 84th annual convention.