March 22, 2015, became a memorable day for the Cleveland Hungarian community. Father Csaba Böjte, Franciscan priest well known for his charitable work, accompanied by two representatives from the St. Francis Foundation, Dr. Agnes Madarassy and John Csák, visited Cleveland, Ohio during their North American tour. They chose St. Emeric Church as the center for the day’s activities, which began with the celebration of Mass at 11 a.m. The church was filled to capacity with parishioners, visitors, and guests from the Cleveland area and also from as far away as Columbus, Ohio. The Hungarian Scouts also participated, with some members of the Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble dressed in the costume of the Szekely (Szekler) region of Transylvania, where Fr. Csaba hails from. Father Csaba’s inspirational homily presented in his unique style focused on the Franciscan’s motto, also known as the prayer of St. Francis, — “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”, emphasizing the power of love as Christ taught us when facing challenges and by working together in harmony and peace for the good of others.
Following Mass, a reception lunch in Hungarian style, of goulash and „lángos” prepared lovingly by the ladies of St. Emeric Parish welcomed the 300 guests in the church hall. As a token symbol of the love and respect of the parishioners, a group of children presented Father with a bouquet of flowers, which Father then asked one of the girls to place on the Blessed Virgin’s altar in the church.
During the course of the luncheon, John Csak, a trustee of the St. Francis Foundation, briefed us on the far reaching charitable work of the Foundation in maintaining the 82 orphanages and children’s homes founded by Father Csaba in the Transylvanian region of Romania and in Hungary over the past 20 years. These homes help the most vulnerable, the poor, the neglected, and the destitute children in society by providing not only basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, education, but above all human dignity and hope for their future. Csak said that the success rate is outstanding. Father Csaba then proceeded to vividly illustrate with real life stories not only the everyday challenges in the lives of these children, but also the heart-warming successes in the lives of these individuals as having become contributing members of society. It is interesting to note that Fr. Csaba’s visit for us coincides with the season of Lent when all Christians are called to deepen their relationship with God through prayer, penance, and practice of charity. What a terrific teaching example we have of this in the life and work of Fr. Csaba and the St. Francis Foundation. During the course of the afternoon the foundation trustees accepted donations to help in their work. The generosity of the donors is to be commended.
This year’s 5th Sunday of Lent and the first Sunday of Spring has become a day we will remember for a long time to come. We thank Fr. Csaba Bojte for visiting us in Cleveland, for celebrating Mass with us and for inspiring us and spiritually enriching our lives. The parishioners of St. Emeric Parish consider it an honor and privilege that they were chosen to host this event. The parishioners, especially the ladies of the parish, together with the scouts worked hard, but lovingly, to bring about this reception and for that we thank them. Above all, we thank Our Heavenly Father for his loving providence in allowing us to be part of this spiritually enriching experience.