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Cleveland's Bishop Reaches Out To Young People in Akron

photo of Bishop Nelson J. Perez

The newly installed Bishop of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese – Nelson J. Perez – was in Akron today, introducing himself to people – especially young people – in Summit County.

Perez spoke and took questions for close to an hour from the crowd of more than 600 people. Many of them were from Akron-area parochial schools. When asked for his vision for youth ministry, the Bishop answered without hesitating.

“Change the world. The world of art and culture and music and family and food and sports -- there’s great stuff in the world. But at the same time, the world has its nasty corners. And we have the power to change that.”

After the speech, he elaborated on how young people can do that.

“With their Christian values, with their human values and above all with the love and the excitement that they have in their hearts.”

Perez has been noted for his humor, and his stated belief that he really has no specific plan for what the Diocese must do in Northeast Ohio.

“My question is, ‘what plan does the Diocese of Cleveland have for me?’ That’s a more interesting question. I was sent here to become a part of you – and not the other way around. And eventually, I’m gonna end up being a picture on a wall. But while I’m here, I hope to have lots and lots of fun.”

The native New Yorker closed his speech to the delight of the crowd with prayers for both the Indians – currently facing the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series – and for the Browns, who play the New York Jets this Sunday.

Bishop Perez's entire speech is available at the First Friday Club website.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.