Prayer service held for new Cleveland Diocese bishop

CLEVELAND - Catholics across Northeast Ohio are celebrating the arrival of a new leader of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. The Most Reverend Nelson Perez will be installed in a ceremony Tuesday afternoon. He will become the 11th bishop of the Cleveland Diocese.

Hundreds of Catholic faithful packed St. John's Cathedral downtown Monday evening to welcome the Most Reverend Nelson Perez.

"Honestly, it's not my celebration. It is the celebration of the Church of Cleveland and these eight counties that compose this local church," said the incoming bishop.

Tuesday, Perez will officially become the leader of more than 670,000 Catholics in Northeast Ohio. He says he is excited to be in Cleveland and looks forward to working with people of all faiths.

"Miracles happen when we come together, miracles don't happen when we separate ourselves from others,"Perez said.

The future bishop personally invited sisters Sierra and Sophia Barr to attend the Vespers. The Magnificat High School students were seriously injured in a car crash in the Rocky River Metroparks reservation last September.

"Six months after I arrived in Long Island, I was involved in a horrific accident, a tractor-trailer hauling refuge from Hurricane Sandy slammed into 31 cars," Perez said.

"He felt connected with us because he was in a car accident - a really bad car accident. And he thought 'I just have to meet them', the power of prayer is how we all got through it," said Sierra Barr.

"He was just touched how the community came together and they rallied for these girls and they lifted them up in the power of prayer," said her mother Tina Barr.

Cleveland area Catholics say they are excited about the new bishop and how he will lead the church. That includes 90-year-old Ralph and Rosemary Coon, married for 70 years.

"It's hard to stand still and he is, he's just warm. I just think he's gonna make a wonderful bishop," said Rosemary, of Copley.

"He's great, I believe he's gonna be a very good bishop," said one woman.

"I can tell that he has a lot of compassion," said another.