August 31, 2015 // Uncategorized

St. Monica Parish, celebrates 100th anniversary, looks to future with hope

Click here for more photos from the celebration.

By Ann Carey, Photos by Kevin Haggenjos

MISHAWAKA — The celebration of the 100th anniversary of St. Monica Parish culminated in a joyful 1 p.m. Mass on Sunday, Aug. 30. The Mass took place just three days after the Aug. 27 feast of St. Monica, so readings for the Sunday liturgy were taken from her feast day.

Colorful fall mums climbed the stairs of the church’s main entrance on Mishawaka Avenue, and center aisle candelabra decorated with floral arrangements provided a festive setting for the centennial Mass celebration. A large number of parishioners and friends nearly filled the historic church, which was built in 1927 to accommodate the growing parish.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was the main celebrant for the anniversary Mass. Joining him as concelebrants were: Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, St. Monica pastor; Father Bill Sullivan, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in New Haven, who had been pastor of St. Monica for 12 years; and Father Barry England, who retired in June after being pastor at neighboring St. Bavo Church in Mishawaka for 15 years.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades traced the rich history of the parish, which was established by Bishop Herman J. Alerding in 1915. The first church    building had been a Baptist Church on Mishawaka Avenue built in 1868, which was purchased and remodeled for Catholic liturgy. However, the congregation quickly outgrew that building

“So those first parishioners, who were filled with a lot of faith and were so generous,” built a two-story school with the church in the basement that was dedicated on May 13, 1917, Bishop Rhoades explained. It was on that same day that Our Lady first appeared to the children at Fatima, Portugal, he noted.

Within seven years, the parish had erased its building debt, he recounted. As the parish grew, parishioners came together to fund a new church building that was dedicated in 1927, and even during the Great Depression, parishioners reduced the debt and raised funds to add the beautiful stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, furnishings and altar, Bishop Rhoades said.

He observed that the people of St. Monica face financial challenges today not unlike those of the early parishioners, and he expressed confidence in their dedication and ability to address those challenges.

“I have been so impressed, meeting with Msgr. Bruce (Piechocki) and parish lay leaders, by your renewed determination to move into the future with hope. This requires much sacrifice and generosity, but I believe that you are up to the task. I want St. Monica’s to continue, to thrive, and to grow,” Bishop Rhoades said.

“I wish to encourage you in your endeavors and thank you for all you are doing to preserve this great parish.”

Bishop Rhoades also encouraged the parishioners to continue the mission of the parish: works of evangelization, welcome of new parishioners, support of education, outreach to the poor and needy, and care for the sick and homebound. And he encouraged the parish to begin its second century by reflecting on the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Many second and third generation parishioners attended the anniversary Mass. James Mahler has been a lifetime parishioner, and he and his wife, Carol Ann, were married at St. Monica. The names of two of his relatives are on one of the stained glass windows as donors, for a cousin had collected tin cans during the Great Depression to make money to pay for a window.

Mary Ann DelPrete was raised in St. Monica Parish, as was her mother, and both attended the parish school. She and her husband, Lou DelPrete, were married there. Their five children also attended school at St. Monica, with their youngest being an altar server for the anniversary Mass.

“My whole family has been a part of this parish,” Mary Ann DelPrete said. “The parish is part of my life, my history, my family. I have a lot of memories here. It’s part of my extended family now: losing my parents — everybody here has helped me through everything. We all watch out for each other; we all love each other.”

Barbara Horvath, a parishioner for close to 50 years, echoed that sentiment.

“I like it because it’s friendly; Father’s always out here greeting us after Mass, and a lot of people stop and talk and visit,” said Horvath, who for 20 years had been a volunteer track coach at the school, along with her late husband, Richard.

Even parishioners with a shorter tenure at the parish spoke in glowing terms about St. Monica. Lenny Sailor said that he was attracted to the parish after attending a friend’s wedding there, so he joined in 1990 and a few months later, met his wife, Pam, there. The two were married at St. Monica in 1993 by then-pastor Father Bill Sullivan.

“So this is such a treat today, to celebrate this (anniversary) and see Father Bill again,” Sailor said, adding that the parish appreciates the support of Bishop Rhoades.

The 100th anniversary celebration concluded with a parish dinner after the Mass at Riverside Terrace.



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