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  • Jun
  • 28

All of St. James’ priests lauded for leadership

Posted By June 28, 2012 | 1:07 pm | Lead Story #2
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ByTanya Connor

SOUTH GRAFTON – “What moves you most at St. James Parish?”
Father Edward J. Hanlon, St. James’ pastor, said each person to whom he posed that question responded: “The priests.”
He told this story in his homily at the parish’s 125th anniversary Mass Sunday.
One of those former pastors, Msgr. Michael F. Rose, now pastor of St. Mary Parish in Shrewsbury, concelebrated the Mass with him and Bishop McManus and Father Kenneth R. Cardinale, pastor of St. Mary Parish in North Grafton and administrator of St. Philip Parish in Grafton.
Father Hanlon said he recently spoke with two other priests once stationed there – Father George A. Dunkley, now serving in California, and Father J. Normand Tremblay, senior priest at St. Joseph Parish in Charlton – who wished they could have come to the anniversary Mass.
“They were raving about you,” Father Hanlon told parishioners. “They really miss this parish. They remember all of your names.” (He informed the bishop listeners were snickering because he, their pastor for the last seven years, can’t remember names.) He also said another former pastor, Father James M. Steuterman, now pastor of St. Richard of Chichester Parish in Sterling, wished he could be there for the celebration and had loved his time there.
“That’s what love is, brothers and sisters,” Father Hanlon said, pointing out that priests and parishioners left a lasting impression on each other.
He said seven years is the longest he’s been in a parish.
“I’ve found a home,” he said, expressing gratitude that the bishop assigned him there.
“Think of the baptisms, first Communion ceremonies, confirmation ceremonies, weddings,” he urged. “We celebrate life here. We celebrate Jesus here. This is the role of our Church – to be a herald for the gift of life.” He spoke of ministries there and said he can’t do it all himself.
“The work is being done by competent people,” he said, telling parishioners he was so happy with them and that he held them responsible for the joyful anniversary celebration they would have.
“I was so delighted to hear Father Hanlon speak of the many great priests,” Bishop McManus said after Communion, adding that religious probably served St. James too. He said the one mission of St. John the Baptist, whose birth was celebrated Sunday, was to point people to Jesus.
“This parish must be a beacon of faith, hope and love,” he added.
The raving about priests and parishioners continued in the church hall over a meal by parishioner Joseph Garabedian, owner of The Buggy Whip Catering Service.
Michael Braun said he and his wife, Suzette, who’ve been there about 11 years and are on the parish council, loved Msgr. Rose, as did everyone, and they feel the same about Father Hanlon.
“We have the best of all worlds,” he said; they have Father Hanlon at St, James and their daughter, Campbell, loves seeing Msgr. Rose at St. Mary Elementary School in Shrewsbury, which she attends. He said he’s gotten to know Father Hanlon through St. James Outreach, which gives food to area residents, Christmas and Easter baskets to shut-ins, and school supplies to students, among other things.
“It’s actually a fairly young parish, a lot of young families, so it’s still growing, even though it’s 125 years old,” said Mrs. Braun, who helps teach children’s liturgy.
“For a parish that’s not particularly large, there’s a lot of people involved in a lot of things,” said her husband.
“This is a super-nice parish,” said Al Lapan, who’s been there most of his life, adding that they’ve had nice priests.
“I love them all,” he said. “If you get involved with different things in the church, you get to know your priests and they become your friends. … It seems like everybody’s friends.”
“We welcome everyone in,” added Dorene Robinson, who’s helping Mr. Lapan, Annette McCarthy and others with the Nov. 10 craft fair.     “We’re a very happy group and we all work together,” said Mr. Lapan, noting that they couldn’t hold the fair without the work of all the men and women who help.
“It’s a very vibrant,  a very giving parish,” said Rita Koerner. “People are very generous with their time. Unbelievable. That’s what makes it run. A real people parish.” She said she and her husband, Paul, have been there 12 years, and their six children, have all been altar servers or choir members.
Nancy Marshall pointed out a photo of Father Louis M.  Charron on a poster of priests who served at St. James, noting that he performed the wedding for her and her husband, Roy, now deceased, more than 50 years ago. She’s spent her whole life in the parish, in which her mother was baptized, she said.
Martha L. Harris, director of religious education there for eight years, said they’ve been trying to hold periodic anniversary events, including an Epiphany breakfast to “celebrate the diversity of our parish” and a picnic in August with their cluster parishes, St. Mary’s in North Grafton and St. Philip’s in Grafton.