About 200 parishioners show up on a Monday morning for a 10 a.m. mass marking the Feast of St. Anthony, a saint known for his outreach to the poor. It was preceded by nine weeks of Tuesday night novenas and will be followed by the blessing of bread baked by members of the church and a luncheon in the church basement.
The Rev. Joseph Previte, 46, has been pastor of Holy Rosary Catholic Church for less than a year, but he's already settled into the Old World culture of one of Greater Cleveland's most historic religious communities.
"The duty of the pastor is pulling out the numbers for the raffles," he says with a laugh.
While he's quick with a joke, Previte is also deeply serious in his commitment to his congregation, which includes families who live in Little Italy (18 kids took First Communion this year), elderly Italian-Americans and Catholic students from Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Institute of Music and Cleveland Institute of Art. "That's what makes us unique," he says.
Inside Holy Rosary Church, the feelings of community run deep. Previte, who says he felt called to the priesthood at an early age but spent almost 15 years as an accountant before entering the seminary, says there is something special about this congregation.
"We pray well," he says. "There's a vibrancy in mass. People are engaged. They're actively participating in the prayer of the church."
This month Previte, who arrived at Holy Rosary last December, will celebrate his first Feast of the Assumption as pastor. But he isn't nervous. Instead, he looks at it as a way to become even more rooted here.
"I like to look at it as an opportunity for growth, for myself and the community," he says. "I'm excited for what's coming ahead."