Fr, Ralph Coletta (holding award) and Sister Laura Brouhaul with Serra Club membersRev. Fr. Ralph V. Coletta, retired pastor of the former St. John the Baptist parish on Brown Street and chaplain of the Akron Serra Club for 22 years, received the Sister Laura Brouhaul award at the Serra District Rechrtering Mass and Dinner on Saturday at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe. Fr. Coletta is the 20th recipient of the award which has been made ince 1992.
The Rev. Roger W. Gries, auxiliary bishop of the Cleveland Diocese, presided for the intallation of new members and rechartering of the six Serra Clubs: Akron, Lake-Geauga, Lorain and Cleveland Dowtonwn, East and West. Edwardt Ptaceck is district governor.
Fr. Coletta’s service as chaplain has been the longest in the 56-year history of the Akron. club. He served as pastor of St. John from February 24, 1987 until his retirement on July 5, 2005. The church was closed November 1, 2009 as part of the parish reconfiguration program. Bishop Richard Lennon celebrated the closing Mass on Saturday, November 1, 2009.
The 76-year-old priest was ordained on the eve of Pentecost, May, 20, 1961 by Bishop Floyd L. Begin who was at the time serving as an auxiliary bishop under Archbishop Edward F. Hoban. Bishop Begin in 1962 became the bishop of Oakland, California where he served until his death in 1977'.
Fr. Coletta’s first asignment was as a parochial vicar of St. Clement (1961-1966). He then served in that capacity at St. Martin of Tours in Maple Heights (1966-68) and Conversion of St. Paul (March to June 1968). He was administrator of the Diocesan Deaf Apostolate from June 1968 to May, 1972 and pastor of St. Augustine in Cleveland from September 1969 to May 1972. He was a parochial vicar at St. Ambrose from May 1972 to December 1975 and St. Francis Xavier December 1975 to August 1978. He then was pastor of Immaculate Conception in Wooster from December 1987 until 1987 when he was named pastor of St. John.
The award was presented by Sister Laura Brouhaul OSU. Prayers were said by Fr. Michael McCandless, cordinator of vocations for the diocese.
Edward Ptacek, Fr. Coletta, Sr. Laura, Fr. Richard McCandless, Fr. Joseph Hilinski of Serra Downtown and Auxiliary Bishop Richard W. Griess (Photos by Ron McAvoy)