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Fr. John Chlebo

“I like to call them the wisdom figures,” says Father John Chlebo when speaking of the priests he ministers to as diocesan delegate for senior priests. “We still need them, even those who can no longer be active. They pray for us and share their wisdom; we need to show them our appreciation.”

Father Chlebo is currently the pastor of St Christopher Parish in Rocky River,having served there for the past 25 years. “Many of my parishioners are older, so serving older priests is not that farremoved from my daily experience,” says Father Chlebo. As delegate for older priests, he keeps in touch with senior priests through phone calls and visits. He also facilitates educational events, summer socials, and an annual lunch at the seminary that reconnects older priests with seminarians. He views this lunch event as valuable interactions that “connect the wisdom figures of the diocese with the aspirants.”

Often Father Chlebo is the ‘voice’ of the diocese for priests in their retirement. “Many are in good health, still active, and still working,” says Father Chlebo. “Keeping in touch, especially with those in nursing care or assisted living facilities, is important, as is letting them know that the diocese hasn’t forgotten them after all their years of service. It is important for their families as well.”

The Heart of a Shepherd campaign, supported by so many generous people of the diocese, not only emphasized the seminary renovation but supported the priests’ pension fund. This component helps parishes by reducing their burden of caring for priests in retirement. Father Chlebo notes, “What many retired priests are still doing to help parishes with Mass and Confessions is so valuable. You can’t put a price tag on it.”

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