By Melanie Sisinni

         Over the weekend of July 15-16, parishioners at St. Julia Parish, Erie, gathered at the 4:00 pm anticipatory Mass and the 9:00 am Sunday Mass to worship and celebrate with their pastor, then-Bishop-Elect Edward M. Lohse. These Masses were the last time he would minister as pastor of St. Julia Parish before his ordination to become the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo on July 26.

Former St. Julia Parish Pastor, Msgr. Bruce Allison, receives
the Eucharist from Bishop Edward M. Lohse at the anticipatory
Mass on July 15.
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         During both Masses, Bishop Lohse addressed the congregation during the homily to express gratitude to those who helped him throughout his residency at St. Julia.

         “Lest I forget at the end — or get all choked up as I do — I want to thank everybody for everything you have done for the last nine months,” said Bishop Lohse. “Thank you to my faithful collaborator in ministry, Deacon Jerry (Peterson), Cheryl (Schodt), Mary (Till) and all the people who have put so much time into volunteering at this parish to make St. Julia’s a wonderful family.”

         Parishioners of St. Julia described the significant effect that Bishop Lohse will have on their parish. When asked how they will remember Bishop Lohse, parishioners all mentioned the same project.

          In one of his first acts as pastor, Bishop Lohse embarked on an endeavor to have the bells of St. Julia Church restored. Before his involvement, the bells had been in disrepair for 14 years.

          “Bishop-Elect Lohse wanted our immediate neighbors and community surrounding the church to know that we were there, alive and well, and open for all to join us and pray with us,” said Dan Mollo, president of the pastoral council at St. Julia. “The bells go off before every Mass and can be rung for other celebrations, funerals and special Masses that the parish holds. They’re also set to ring at 12 pm and 6 pm to represent the daily Angelus prayer. He was very passionate about this project, and many parishioners graciously got behind and were excited about bringing back this new life to St. Julia’s.”

         At the reception dinner for Bishop Lohse after the 4:00 pm Mass, members of the pastoral council handed out miniature bells for everyone to ring when Bishop Lohse walked down the steps to join the gathering, a gesture meant to signify appreciation and respect for Bishop Lohse’s lasting impact on St. Julia Parish.

         “Every time the bells ring, we’ll remember Monsignor,” said Judy Miller, a parishioner at St. Julia. “He has truly been a rebirth for our parish. We had beautiful priests before this, they helped us continue, but he just put a spark in the parish.”

         Just before dinner began, Dan Mollo addressed the group, reflecting on Bishop Lohse’s time at the parish.

Bishop Lohse addresses the group at his farewell reception
at St. Julia Parish, Erie.
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         “Although his stay at St. Julia’s may have been brief, I think we can all agree how big an impact he has made on this parish and all of us,” said Mollo. “He has brought so much joy and has helped breathe new life into this church. The parish council has enjoyed working alongside Monsignor as he has helped point us in a new direction and painted a path for us and our vision for the future of St. Julia’s.”

         Bishop Lohse was presented with an Erie-themed gift basket filled with reminders of his time in Erie, including Cheetos, one of his favorite snacks.

         Bishop Lohse addressed the group with tears in his eyes.

         “It really has been a joy to be at St. Julia’s — to call it home, to call you family,” said Bishop Lohse. “Even though we may be separated by miles of distance, in Christ we are united, and we will continue to profess the same faith, receive the same Eucharist, and there we will be with each other across the miles.”

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