Pastor's Corner 5-03-20

Pastor's Corner
May 3, 2020

On May 3, 1970 Blessed Leonard Murialdo, CSJ was canonized by Pope Paul VI, himself now a saint. At that time, two miracles were required to be declared a saint. His were miracles of healing for a boy in his tweens and a little girl. Of course, God did the healing, but St. Leonard did the knocking on the door for the parents of the children. I was a senior in high school and had been visiting the community that year, less than a mile from home, with the idea of entering formation. By that time, I had decided I was not ready and was enrolled at Kent State University, then the premier State college for education majors. The canonization was rather exciting as my reading a short biography about him in ninth grade had enamored me to Murialdo. The Fathers of St. Joseph took turns helping in my home parish and were highly regarded by the people, despite the heavy Italian accents.

The next day, May 4, 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students at Kent State. Some of those injured or killed were going to and from classes as the Governor had refused to close the campus. A large group, many professional agitators as well as KSU students, were protesting the escalation of the war in Viet Nam. They had burned down an old ROTC barracks the night before. Of course, it was a huge shock to most people. My bachelor great uncle came to the house to talk me out of going there the next Fall. When I demurred, he tried to convince me into going “downtown to Goldfish’s Army Surplus Store” with him to buy a [colorful adjective] flak jacket. I appreciated his concern but “had set my face towards” Kent and was not going to be deterred.

A month later, June 5, 1970, I graduated from Avon High School. We were one of the largest graduating classes in the town’s history—130 strong. All things are relative, as they say! Although some of the girls got weepy about not coming back anymore to the school, I was more than ready to finish and move on. High School was a real mixed bag for me—mixture of fond memories and some suppressed ones. Normal experience, I suppose! Only thing I remember about the commencement speeches is they were long and boring. I admit feeling the diploma with the gold NHS logo was cool and that it was something of an accomplishment. The most important thing to me was that it was done, and something new was on the horizon.

All of this was fifty years ago! When I think of that, I quit asking why my hair and beard are white and I have two fake knees. I stayed at Kent State for two years. In December 1971 I again contacted the Fathers of St. Joseph and asked for admission. They told me to finish the school year. Besides making sense academically, the house was too small, and they had building plans for the next Spring/Summer. I moved into community in August of 1972. I professed first vows August 16, 1974, perpetual vows in June 1979, was ordained a deacon December 15, 1979; and ordained a priest June 7, 1980 at age 28. So next month will be my fortieth anniversary of ordination. It has been a good ride, overall. Like every rollercoaster, there have been high peaks, and low depths. Looking back, I have been in God’s hands the whole time, those are good hands!

Yours in the Risen Lord,    
Fr. Leo A. Dechant, CSJ

See attached Prayer Cards. (EnglishSpanish)