Breaking News
More () »

Cleveland area seminarians journey to Rome to meet with Pope Francis

Bishop Edward C. Malesic and others described the pope as very warm and compassionate, and noticed he greeted each seminarian and prayed with them in the moment.

ROME, Italy — A group from Saint Mary Seminary in Wickliffe is currently in Rome, and will be coming back to Cleveland with a message directly from Pope Francis.

Bishop of Cleveland Edward C. Malesic accompanied the group of seminarians for this momentous occasion. Both he and two of the leading priests at Saint Mary described the pope as very warm and compassionate, and noticed he greeted each seminarian and prayed with them in the moment.

The Rev. Mark Latcovich, president-rector of the seminary, says part of Francis' message that resonated with him was the instruction not just to listen to God, but to walk together with people. However, he says that doesn't always mean walking beside them.

"One of the things that he said in his text which I found very interesting for us as priests and for the seminarians who will be future priests is he says, 'Sometimes, you have to walk ahead of people and lead and guide them,'" Latcovich recalled the pontiff saying. "'Sometimes, you have to walk with them, beside them, and sometimes you have to walk at the end of the line, picking up the people who are struggling.'"

The Rev. Joseph Koopman, who previously studied in Rome and met St. John Paul II during his papacy, described the joy he had watching the group meet Pope Francis in person.

"To see it in the eyes of our seminarians as they came up these long stairs into the hall in which they were to greet the Holy Father, to see kind of the awe and excitement in their hearts as he came through those doors and we all jumped up and clapped, there's so much excitement ," Koopman said.

Credit: AP
Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard the papal flight back from Canada Saturday, July 30, 2022, where he paid a six-day pastoral visit. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/ Pool via AP)

Malesic told 3News while many people have questions about religion as opposed to spirituality, he's learned the importance of community, because it's hard, he says, to be a family or a church of just one.

"Even though my family — my natural family — has its ups and downs, and its fights and its disfunctions like every family does, so is the Church," the bishop noted. "But my family's my family, and that's what unites us, and same thing with faith.

"A lot of times, we've not given — or failed to give — the basics of the faith, that our faith is about a man who was sent to us from God, who is God's son, who is God himself, who died for the sake of our sins, forgave our sins at the cross, rose from the dead three days later and said that you, too, can rise from the dead. We, too, can have eternal life, and we can have abundant life and a happy life and a full life if we simply follow him."

According to those from the diocese, Pope Francis also spoke highly of Saint Mary Seminary and the large number of priests that have passed through its halls.

Before You Leave, Check This Out