“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

The Last Judgement in the Gospel of Matthew is both one of the most well-known and unsettling passages of scripture. Jesus clearly lays out the expected behaviors of believers. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick and visit the imprisoned. These six tasks are straightforward, but not always simple.

Sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz expresses this challenge Christ offers in Matthew 25 in three dimensions. His life-size bronze statues depict Jesus as he calls us to see him: homeless, stranger, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned. In each, the face of Christ is obscured in a drape of cloth or bent elbow and Jesus is known only by the wounds of the crucifixion. Across the world, these works have scandalized and challenged the communities in which they are installed. In North Carolina and Indiana, police and paramedics were called to respond to homeless Jesus. The statues have been critiqued as insulting, demeaning, creepy and even sacrilegious. And yet, why should they surprise us since in Matthew 25 Jesus promised that in the least of these is where we would see him and answer our call to serve him.

Joeann Karibo explains this call succinctly in her reflection on A Shared Statement of Identify for the Catholic Health Ministry. “For the members of the Catholic health ministry, creating an option for the poor cannot simply be providing charity care to those who come to our health facilities in crisis and without the financial means to pay for needed services. A true option for the poor requires a commitment to mobilize and nurture the growth of individual and community capabilities and to create opportunity for each individual to assume a meaningful role in defining and pursuing holistic well-being, peace and hope.”

When asked about the shock and outrage of some, Tim Schmalz reminds us the art “is only as shocking as the Gospels are. It’s just a representation.”

God has always strongly identified with the poor and vulnerable. He chose a wandering nomad, the smallest nation and an insignificant teenage girl. Jesus was poor, homeless and vulnerable. This has deep implications for our call as individuals and as health care ministries. Jesus told us where to find him and we must seek to serve him in those people and places.

For Reflection

The Apostle James writes, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is that?” James 2:15-16


  • Do I / we see the face of Christ in people who are poor and vulnerable?
  • Do I / we participate in opportunities to serve the poor and vulnerable inside or outside of our workplace?
  • Do I / we participate in community building activities and efforts to address the social determinants of health?
  • Do I / we care for the poor and vulnerable among our associates?

(c) Catholic Health Association USA. Lenten reflections are republished with permission.


Welcome Bishop Perez!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

in News

Welcome Bishop Nelson Perez to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. May God bless him in his leadership!

Press release from the Diocese of Cleveland:

Pope Names Bishop Perez as Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland

Pope Francis has named Bishop Nelson J. Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, N.Y., as Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio.

The appointment was publicized this morning in Washington, July 11, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate Perez was born in Miami, Florida, on June 16, 1961 to David and Emma Perez. Bishop Perez earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Montclair State University in 1983. He taught at Colegio la Piedad, a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico prior to entering Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he earned Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theology degrees in 1988 and 1989, respectively. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1989.   In 1998, he was named a chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II and Prelate of Honor in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

In June 2012, Bishop Perez was named Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and received Episcopal Ordination on July 25, 2012.

Bishop-designate Perez served as the Episcopal Vicar for the Eastern Vicariate of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Vicar for Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.  While in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Perez served as pastor of St. William Church in Philadelphia and as pastor of St. Agnes, West Chester, Pennsylvania.  He was the founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization, an Archdiocesan center for Adult Faith Formation Development and Lay Ministry Training.  In addition, Bishop Perez served as parochial vicar of St. Ambrose in Philadelphia and assistant director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics.  He taught courses in religion and psychology as an adjunct faculty member at La Salle University, and has traveled within the United States offering conferences on evangelization, lay ministry, leadership development, retreats and parish days of recollection.  While in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Bishop Perez was a member of the Corporate Board of Directors for Catholic Health Services; Vice Chair of Catholic Charities; Priests Personnel Board, the Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Advisory Committee for Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

As a member of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Bishop Perez serves as the Chair of the Bishop’s Sub-Committee for Hispanic Affairs and is a former member of the Bishop’s Sub-Committee for the Campaign for Human Development.

Bishop-designate Perez will be installed as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland at a Solemn Mass on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland. Evening Prayer will be celebrated on September 4.

“I am so very happy to be here with you, to learn from you, grow with you, and serve you with pastoral devotion,” said Bishop-designate Perez. “Please don’t hesitate to say hello, if you see me as I venture out, eager to experience my new home. God bless you, all!”

Until Bishop-designate Perez’s installation as Bishop of Cleveland, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas will continue leading the diocese as its Apostolic Administrator. Bishop Thomas is the bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. He assumed leadership duties for the Diocese of Cleveland upon the retirement of Bishop Richard Lennon, who was granted early retirement on December 28, 2016 due to health concerns.

“In Bishop Nelson Perez, the Diocese of Cleveland is receiving a faithful, enthusiastic and joyful shepherd for Christ and His Church,” remarked Bishop Thomas. “With his warm personality, Bishop Perez will endear himself to all who meet him. Bishop Perez will find in Cleveland a true spiritual home filled with dedicated and devoted people, a family of faith that I am grateful to have had the privilege to serve. I personally look forward to working with Bishop Perez in announcing the Gospel in Northern Ohio.”

The Diocese of Cleveland comprises 3,414 square miles that include eight counties in northeast Ohio. It has a total population of 2,774,113 people of which 677,219 or 24 percent are Catholic.


Christmas reflection: grace

Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 
We knew only his name, not his story. Leon, just 37 years old, was one of those rootless souls who, by life’s violent incisions, become severed from their history and their future. He had come to us from a local boarding home, comatose and dying. He came [more…]

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Advent reflection: hope fulfilled

Sunday, December 20, 2015

“O Radiant Dawn, come and shine on those who dwell in the darkness of the shadow of death.” O Antiphon – December 21

Have you ever been told not to get your hopes too high? The kind admonisher is trying to protect you. But you, like all human beings, still hope for everything, no matter the odds!
What [more…]

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Advent reflection: finding joy

Monday, December 14, 2015

“The Lord, your God … will rejoice over you with gladness.” Zephaniah 3:17
Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Walking through the Med-Surg area, the chaplain juggled that question. He had just left Betty whose test results had proven benign. Her reaction still echoed in his mind. Like someone waking from a bad dream, she [more…]

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Advent reflection: A channel for holiness

Sunday, December 6, 2015

“From you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God.” Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Lectionary: 690A
There are a few places where nature offers an experience of darkness so absolute it can be terrifying. Assateague Island lies along the barrier coast of Virginia. On a winter night, darkness there feels complete, enveloping. As evening [more…]

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Advent reflection: Transforming humanness into glory

Sunday, November 29, 2015

“On that day, the Lord will bind up the wounds of his people.” Isaiah 30:26
Christine is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She is as vital as fresh air or summer sun. She is successful, strong, sincere and faith-filled. But her heart is a fragile, hidden glass, ready to break at any moment, from a family member’s [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Holy Week

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holy Week is the week preceding Easter, and the final week of Lent. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Holy Week includes Holy Thursday and Good Friday, which together with Holy Saturday, are known as the Triduum. [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Humor

Monday, March 23, 2015

It’s time to laugh, and here are a few nuggets to give you a chuckle:

The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.
If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
Everyone has a [more…]

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Jennings celebrates 73rd anniversary

Monday, March 16, 2015

The month of March is special at Jennings Center for Older Adults, not just because of St. Patrick’s Day. March 17 is celebrated as Founder’s Day in honor of Monsignor Gilbert Patrick Jennings, whose vision began the original Jennings Hall. According to diocesan historian Father Nelson Callahan, Monsignor Jennings was very insightful for his [more…]

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