Celebration of service: Priests, deacons begin ordained ministries
Justice Watch: Citizens group with church backing keeps an eye on Summit County politics
Soccer partnership lets teams learn from each other
Highlights of the May 26, 2000 issue.

Celebration of service: Priests, deacons begin ordained ministries

Photos by William Rieter

Six new priests and seven new deacons were ordained May 20 and May 13, respectively by Bishop Anthony M. Pilla in ceremonies steeped church tradition in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Among those welcomed into the permanent diaconate was Rev. Mr. Ronald Adkins (bottom right) who was joined by his wife, Margaret.

Father Barry Gearing, (left) was among the new priests who received the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Justice Watch: Citizens group with church backing keeps an eye on Summit County politics

By Anna G. Hall

Photo by Phil Leiter


The recent spate of scandals in Summit County government has prompted a group of Greater Akron residents to come together and keep an eye on elected officials.

Under a program called Justice Watch, a project of the Akron Catholic Commission, citizens attend each regular meeting and committee hearings of the County Council. Project organizers say the program has given them an education about local government.

"We felt citizens should be active and aware of what's happening in County Council and be willing to speak up to influence decisions for the sake of the common good," said Sister Jackike Doepker, SSJ, commission associate director. "We want to train citizens to be active in their local government.

Pat Neely, chairwoman of Justice Watch, Sister Jackie Doepker, SSJ and Larry Horner are among a group of Summit County residents who keep an eye on the county council in the wake of a series of corruption charges involving public officials.

"The first step is to find out how it operates and observe it in action to better understand how decisions are made."

Working in pairs, Justice Watch participants attend both the regular County Council and its committee meetings on alternate Mondays. Participants record which council members are present or absent, status of legislation and their own observations.

There are about 12 participants, and each volunteers to attend meetings during a specific month. One is Karren Sawhill, a member of St. Bernard Church, a retired teacher and former member of Catholic Commission. She said attending County Council meetings has been an eye-opening experience for her.

"I didn't realize how much Summit County government influences our lives--in the amount of money spent and projects they are involved in," Sawhill said. "As a resident of Akron, you know what your city council member is doing, but not the county council, which no one seems to be aware of."

Sister Doepker has been observing council since August and has seen a change in the way the legislators work.

"As a result of previous misconduct in county government, council is now asking more questions of those who submit proposals," she said. For example, she explained, council asked for a more detailed budget, and brought in someone to help with budgeting and finance.

The entire group convenes every few months to compare observations, share information and learn more about the political process. During a meeting in April State Rep. Betty Sutton, a former County Council member, met with the group to discuss the inner workings of the legislative body.

Sutton noted that the county government is in transition because of the scandals, which have led to several public officials and consultants being convicted of bribery and other charges. The Ohio Ethics Commission, FBI, IRS and the U.S. Attorney's Office continue investigations into corruption in Summit County government.

She recommended that Justice Watch participants establish relationships with council members and ask questions and voice their concerns during individual meetings as well as at council's public meetings and committee hearings.

"You need to be empowered with information," Sutton said. "Think about what issues are of interest to you."

She also advised the group to band together with other like-minded organizations.

In addition to training citizens about local government operations, Justice Watch is intended to provide a two-way flow of information. It alerts County Council to the Catholic commission's on-going involvement and monitoring process, while providing the commission with a reliable source of information on significant local issues.

For more information on Justice Watch, call the Akron Catholic Commission at (330) 535-2787.

Hall is a freelance writer in Akron.

Soccer partnership lets teams learn from each other

By Wally Mieskoski

Photo by George Shuba


Soccer players from Sts. Joseph and John and the Urban Community School are learning that some of life's lessons of sharing and fellowship can be learned on the athletic fields.

And their coaches are very happy to see their players understand that such experiences will reach far beyond the final score.

A partnership is developing between the two schools--Sts. Joseph and John from Strongsville and Urban Community School from Cleveland's Near West Side with soccer as the common thread.

"Sports, in this case, " said Sts. Joseph and John soccer coach Gary Laprocino, "is a tool for greater understanding of people."

Brian Laprocino of Sts. Joseph and John School gets set to pass the ball to Elvin Roldan of Urban Community School during a recent pick up practice at Camp Corde. Watching are coaches Gary Laprosino of Sts. Joseph and John and Jim Doherty of UCS.

UCS coach Jim Doherty, agreed, saying that the opportunities for fellowship among the players gives them a chance to learn about each other that may not have presented itself without the sport of soccer.

It was a soccer game between the two schools' 4-5-6th grade boys' teams that brought them together on May 6.

"The soccer program at the Urban Community School is in the developmental stages, only in its second year. We have a 4-5-6th grade boy's team and a 7-8th grade boy's team. Next year we plan to have a girls team," Doherty said.

And being such a young program, the UCS has a greater need for equipment than a parish team that is much more established.

"Several of our players saw that some of the Urban Community School equipment was in need of repair or non-existent, especially shin guards," Laprocino said.

"We talked about it as a team after the game and decided to take some action," Laprocino said. "I'm happy to say that it was initiated by the team."

As a result, members of the Sts. Joseph and John team worked extra chores and did other tasks to earn money to make a donation to help the second-year soccer program at UCS.

"We have fundraisers to help us with our expenses, but the needs are always great," Doherty said. "We're thankful to the team at Sts. Joseph and John, and we look forward to working with them in the future."

Plans are being made for both teams together to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Euclid to strengthen the spiritual side of their lives that is so much a part of the CYO program. That will be followed by a picnic to mix fellowship and friendship.

A skills development clinic involving the two schools to sharpen the talents of players from both teams is also being discussed.

"The Urban Community School has a great bunch of kids on their team," said Laprocino. "It's encouraging to see that these two soccer teams can each learn from each other and find that there is much more to sports, than winning and losing."

Mieskoski is a freelance writer in Cleveland.

The internet version of the Catholic Universe Bulletin is prepared by Bill Laufer and published courtesy of Cleveland CatholicNET