Lauren Caggiano
Freelance Writer
September 30, 2009 // Local

St. John the Baptist celebrates 150th anniversary

Lauren Caggiano
Freelance Writer
Bishop John M. D’Arcy celebrated Mass at the 150th anniversary of St. John the Baptist Parish, on Sept. 27, in New Haven.

Bishop John M. D’Arcy celebrated Mass at the 150th anniversary of St. John the Baptist Parish, on Sept. 27, in New Haven.

By Lauren Caggiano

NEW HAVEN —A parish is a “family of families,” according to Bishop John M. D’Arcy and St. John the Baptist in New Haven has proudly existed as one for 150 years.

On this joyous occasion, the bishop celebrated a special Mass at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. He was joined in thanksgiving by current and former members of the parish family, namely local priests who were once assigned to the church. 

In his homily, Bishop D’Arcy offered Pope John Paul II’s concept of a Catholic parish.
“A parish is a family of families where we encounter others,” he said, paraphrasing the late pope. He then asked the parishioners to consider the meaning of baptism as a “gift of faith and Christ’s suffering delivered to us.”

Pope John Paul II loved his parish and it showed. An active member of his beloved parish until his entrance into the priesthood, Bishop D’Arcy offered him as a model for parishioner involvement. Moreover, the bishop spoke about the notion of a parish as a place to “come aside from the culture of the time,” and hear God’s word preached by a priest. 

On that note, he reminded the faithful of the Year for Priests. Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year for Priests beginning with the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father from June 9-11, 2010.

Continuing his homily, the bishop said the priest shows the love of God to his flock and needs to be appreciated.

“Where would we without the present pastor?” Bishop D’Arcy said of Father James Seculoff.
On the subject of priesthood, the bishop continued to cite Pope Benedict on his teachings on vocations. Looking to the future, he presented a call to action: pray for future and current priests.
“They come from prayer,” he said. “As you celebrate the (parish’s) 150th … there’s always been a priest.”

Two young men from the diocese will be ordained into the priesthood in late October.
What’s more, he said the parish should be an evangelical force, caring for and reaching out to the poor. Moreover,  another group — youth — call for a different type of outreach.

“There should always be a place where Jesus Christ meets young people,” he said. “The youth have a right to know Jesus Christ.”

The lost sheep, those who may have fallen away from the church, are priorities as well, he stressed.

The church’s rich 150-year history has produced many faithful Catholics, many of whom feel a strong connection to the parish. 

Kathy (Nichter) Mowery was raised in the church and attended Mass there most of her adult life. She attended grade school in the adjacent building and has fond members of the priests over the years.

Mowery said, although she has moved across town, “(St. John’s) is home. My mom and dad still go here.”

Mowery is not a minority. Many parishioners in attendance were baptized, married and celebrated their children’s sacraments in the same church.

Indeed St. John’s has grown in many ways since its early beginnings as church in East Allen County. A third church and parish community center was built to serve the more than 1,200 families currently registered. These families come from New Haven, Fort Wayne, Leo, and the surrounding area.

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