Sitting on the hard wooden bench about two thirds of the way from the altar of St. Charles of Borremeo church in Parma, I looked up at the ceiling and thought, as I often do when I am in that church, my grandfather, a carpenter, helped to build this church. He was a small framed, handsome man, unafraid of heights, who was able to climb the high scaffolding with ease.
This parish has more scheduled Masses than most churches, so when I have a peculiar agenda or am sandwiching events, I can rely on St. Charles to have a Mass that I can get to. Today I had gone to a Zumbathon at Estabrook which went from 3:30-5:30 p.m. which meant I’d not get to a church closer to home and with the prediction of 4-8 inches of snow Sunday, I knew I needed to get to Mass Saturday, and made it, a few minutes late to their 6:00 p.m.
My father grew up in Parma, a once small town in the west-to south suburbs of Cleveland built on the industry and frugality of Eastern European immigrants. Early in his forty-year career with General Electric on Chardon Road in Euclid, my father decided that crossing the town every day was too much of a drive and so we moved across the Cuyahoga River to the east side where my parents lived out their lives. We were back in Parma visiting my grandparents and my father’s siblings so often that I felt as at home there as anywhere else in my childhood. I had begun first grade at St. Charles while we lived with my father’s parents when we were between houses. Later I was in the wedding parties of both my Uncle Bob and Aunt Esther as well as that of my Aunt Bernie and Uncle Alfons. It seemed like the natural place to resettle when I moved with my children back to Ohio in the late 1980s.
Even though I moved out of Parma fourteen years ago, I find that for me, all roads lead back to Saint Charles and I light a candle at the Statue of the Sorrowful Mother, add my petitions to the current page of the prayer requests, and feel at home as I sit there thinking and praying.