October 7, 2009 // Local
LaGrange parish celebrates 75th anniversary
Bishop opens eucharistic exhibition from the Vatican
By Tim Johnson
LaGRANGE — The ministering of the sacraments — marriages, baptisms — provide some of the fondest memories of St. Joseph Church, LaGrange, parishioners. Parishioners and their families gathered with Bishop John M. D’Arcy and their pastor, Conventual Franciscan Friar Mark Weaver, on Oct. 3 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the parish. Bishop D’Arcy also cut the ribbon that opened The Vatican International Exhibition of the Eucharistic Miracles of the World, a display of 126 eucharistic miracles through the ages, and blessed the exhibition. The exhibition runs through Oct. 10.
Betty Beiser, 82, who proudly boasts of being the parish’s eldest parishioner said “you feel the love” at St. Joseph Parish, which draws her and her husband Ed to the community. Betty, whose first husband died, was married twice at St. Joseph’s. Her nine children were baptized in the parish as well.
Betty’s sister, Marilyn Miller, said that “it’s such a part of my life, it’s always been here” and the home feeling is what draws her and her husband Richard to the parish. After living in Michigan, the Millers returned to Marilyn’s home parish. All three of the Millers’ children were married at St. Joseph. Richard, who converted to the faith but grew up with the sisters, says his fondest memory of the parish is his wife Marilyn and their marriage.
“Our mother and father had such a soul (at St. Joseph’s) in building and establishing the church,” Marilyn commented. Marilyn, Betty and parishioner Phil Bir are considered the parish pioneers. The church began with just eight families. Beginning in 1933, Masses were held in a hotel, filling station and empty buildings. Betty and Marilyn’s father, Michael Brady, along with Henry Bir, requested that a church building to be built in 1936. Dedication of the parish church took place with Bishop John F. Noll on March 19, 1937. Franciscans from Angola served the parish and lived in a house on the weekends. In 1957, Franciscan Father Raymond Oosdyke was assigned to the parish as the first full-time pastor.
By 1977, the parish had outgrown the old church and construction plans emerged for a new church to be located on the east side of LaGrange. Again, the Brady family donated the land at the corner of U.S. 20 and County Road 100 East on which the present-day church stands. On Christmas Eve 1979, Mass was first celebrated in the new church, which was dedicated by Bishop William McManus on April 26, 1980.
Today the parish has a rich and diverse population of Anglo and Hispanic families. Masses are offered in both English and Spanish. Bishop D’Arcy noted in his homily that Father Weaver “welcomes everyone. He welcomes all people, whatever their background, and that’s how Jesus Christ is.”
Family life remains central to the parish and Bishop D’Arcy was quick to use the readings of the weekend to discuss the value of family and marriage. He discussed the permanence of marriage. In Mosiac law, divorce was allowed, “but in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, this will not be so,” Bishop D’Arcy said.
The Genesis readings discussed how God made man in his own image. Male and female he created them. Bishop D’Arcy related how Adam expressed joy when the woman was placed in the garden to be his companion. “In other words, from the beginning, it was the will of God that two beings who are different become one,” Bishop D’Arcy said.
“In their love for one another and in their unselfishness, and their self-giving — giving of themselves — that is an image of the way God loves us,” Bishop D’Arcy said. “The very creation of man and woman and the world is God giving of himself. It is the nature of God to give and to love. … That’s part of the reason why God created marriage, the family.”
He added, “When the child sees that self-giving between mother and father, he learns that God is love, not just from the catechism, (but) from witness, from example.”
Bishop D’Arcy mentioned St. Paul’s words that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Christ was willing to give his life for the church. That is how a husband is called to love his wife.
Bishop D’Arcy said “That is why the love in marriage, their physical union, must always be open to life. Because when there is prevention there through birth control, through human means, the complete giving between God and man is prevented.”
Bishop said marriage is the image of God and God’s love for us and that is why men and women must remain faithful.
The parish has been described by Pope John Paul II as a family of families, Bishop D’Arcy said. “And that is why the church opposes, against the culture, the claim that you can have marriage between two people of the same sex,” he said. “It is against nature. God created nature. It is against the Bible. It is not possible from that union to make a child. And children are from God.”
Bishop D’Arcy related the meaning that Jesus’ words about the children at the end of the Gospel, “Bring them to me.”
“We all must welcome and love the child,” Bishop D’Arcy said. “The child is from God, the child is the future. In fact, Jesus says we are all to become like a child. We can’t do that in every way. But what Jesus means is that in my heart I must be open to God as a child is open to God — humble, spontaneous, trusting God, relying on God.”
“When I reach the end of my life,” he said, “I want to have the same trust in God which I had at my first Communion.”
During the preparation of gifts, parishioners processed with historical treasures.
After the Mass and ribbon cutting, a dinner was served and historical slideshows and memorabilia was available.
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