Dear parishioners and friends of Saint Patrick and Saint Malachi, I encourage everyone to visit www.dioceseofcleveland.org for a more detailed coverage of the life and ministry of Bishop Pilla. Let us take a moment to honor this son of Cleveland who served as our diocesan bishop for over twenty-five years and was a national leader of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Because of his roots here in Cleveland and having served in ministry even beyond his retirement in 2006, many parishioners and members of the local area have our own memories of Bishop Pilla as a shepherd who loved his flock, who listened attentively, and deeply cared for the health of the local and national Church. Respected by Catholics and other dear friends in our community, Bishop Pilla was deeply interested in a Church engaged with the modern world and the particular needs within our society.
Early into his role as Ordinary of Cleveland, Bishop Pilla presided over the funerals of the missionaries from El Salvador. He retired as the diocese was entering the next phases of Vibrant Parish Life, a diocesan-wide planning strategy intended to addresses the need for renewed parish life. During his time of service, the late bishop initiated Church in the City where suburban parishes would partner with urban parishes. He also saw to the forming of the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe, bringing together Borromeo and Saint Mary Seminaries, the Permanent Diaconate Program, and the Office of Lay Ecclesial Ministry, among the many other programs.
There were also great pastoral challenges and even scandals that the Ninth Bishop of Cleveland would need to address. This included revelations of sexual abuse by clergy and other trusted members of the Church which still impacts the Church today, especially the victims and their families. Considering the many Confirmations and other special occasions, his retirement since 2006 would not keep Bishop Pilla away from the many diocesan celebrations and opportunities for him to sustain relationships with fellow clergy, religious, and friends throughout the diocese.
As we look back on the life and ministry of the 88-year old who was called Home the other day, I am grateful to have had his hands rest upon my head and anoint my hands in 1998. I was honored to make my oath of obedience to him as he welcomed me into the priesthood. I was privileged to call him my bishop.
I am honored now to pray for my brother – our brother – for his eternal peace. I also pray that consolation be given to his family and to our local Church who mourn the loss of a good and faithful Shepherd.
In the hope and joy of the Resurrection,