Catholic Free Press

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  • Jun
  • 26

St. Mark’s holds active place in community for 50 years

Posted By June 26, 2014 | 1:33 pm | Lead Story #3

By Tanya Connor

SUTTON – The love shown by members of St. Mark Parish – here and abroad – was highlighted during their 50th anniversary celebration Sunday.
Some attending the Mass and dinner remembered the days before the present church was dedicated on Dec. 13, 1964.
Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop McManus were the pastor, Father Michael A. DiGeronimo, and priests who formerly served here. Assisting were Deacon Eduardas V. Meilus, who is stationed here, and deacons who formerly served here.
Bishop McManus said it was providential the parish was celebrating its anniversary on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, because the Church cannot exist without the Eucharist. And without the priesthood there is no Eucharist, he said, pointing out new priests present.
Father DiGeronimo talked about the Eucharist in his homily, which led him into a look at the parish.
People see acts of desperation, loneliness and hopelessness in the news, he said.
“But also we know that we, as believing Christians, have the cure,” he said, repeating Jesus’ words: “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51)
“When Jesus loves, he shows us how to love,’’ Father DiGeronimo said. “Jesus not only taught the love of the Father, but he lived it, even unto the cross. … We have the living bread in front of us … But we should remember how the power of the real presence gets into the fiber of our lives – by ‘being with.’”
When you let God love you and love him in return, your life changes, he said. Love sends you to serve.
He said it was good when celebrating the 50th anniversary to think about what St. Mark’s does, in addition to celebrating sacraments and visiting the sick. It’s the friendliest parish he’s been to, he said, “because I notice your care for each other.”
He talked about St. Mark’s “charisms”: its relationships with the town of Sutton and Foyer St. Etienne (a nursing home it supports in Haiti), and relationships among people here.
When St. Mark’s was a mission of St. Brigid Parish in Millbury, the Congregational Church offered the Sutton Catholics space, but they worshipped in the town hall, Father DiGeronimo said.
Today St. Mark’s relationship with the town is one of love, he said. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is called on, the Knights of Columbus take on big projects and the youth support the food pantry. St. Mark’s supplies space for a community garden and soccer. In Sutton, “if you have a field, everybody knows that God meant it to be used for soccer,” he said.
“We are a very social parish,” he continued. “It would be very difficult for someone to come to St. Mark’s and not be talked to … and sat with. … Thank you for who you are.” He also gave God thanks.
Civic leaders offered congratulations too.
After Mass individuals thanked Mark Bailey, music director, who’d written the parts of the Mass. Musicians included a chorale, a brass ensemble and Eva Lavoie, 9, who sang a solo.
Mr. Bailey wasn’t much older when he started here. He said when he was 12 Father Moise LeDoux asked him to play the organ. So his piano teacher gave him organ lessons at the church. He became music director in 1983.
His dedication is legendary.     His parents, Harry and Angela Bailey, were dedicated to the church too.
“My parents were among the founders who approached the bishop” for a parish of their own, he said. He said the bishop asked  them about finding land. His mother said she got the bishop and the property owners together.
Mr. Bailey said a plaque honoring his parents, with a parish history, is to be presented in December.
Another original member, Robert LeClaire, shared his involvement.
“I have been a collector at Mass ever since we had Mass in the Town Hall,” he said. A priest came from St. Brigid’s, bringing a portable altar. After Mass, the collectors went to his house to count the money, and sent it to St. Brigid’s.
“If we had $90 at Mass we did well,” he said.
Alice Creamer called St. Mark’s the most friendly parish she’s ever been in; “you feel right at home, whether you are young, old or in between.”
“They took such good care of us,” Anne Chartrand, a member for 27 years, said of the way parishioners treated her and her husband, Robert. “We were both seriously ill – cancer and heart attacks.”
“They mailed us a prayer shawl” – to Florida, added Mr. Chartrand.
“And now I have joined the parish prayer shawl ministry,” said his wife.