Friday, January 23, 2015

Twenty-seven years later

     A short story to reflect the swift passing of time and changing demographics and circumstances.

     Back in 1987 I became pastor of All Saints Church in Masontown and its Mission church of Saint Francis de Sales in the hamlet of McClellandtown, about five miles down the road.  Saint Francis de Sales was a small frame church building that provided a place to gather for a mass on Sunday morning for the one hundred or so families.  They were a close knit group and loved their little church, but had very little self identity.  I saw that need, and remember suggesting and then implementing a parish covered dish dinner on the weekend near the feast of Saint Francis de Sales (January 24th).  We met at the local fire hall, and had a great turnout.  Pride was taken in being a member of that Mission church.  We continued the tradition during my time there.  We also roofed the building and put new siding on the church.  People, even McClellandtown parishioners, asked why, since the writing was on the wall because of parish size, but I reassured them that even "if" the inevitable happened, we would increase our resale value.

     The inevitable did happen after my time there and the mission church was closed and the parishioners joined All Saints.  The church building was sold and was converted into a nice family home.  The Saint Francis de Sales / All Saints parishioners a few years ago found themselves a part of the new parish of Saint Francis (not de Sales but rather Assisi) along with parishioners from five other churches (not an easy transition).  I believe that they just had or are having a parish dinner of the new Saint Francis of Assisi parish.

     So, twenty-seven years later, the landscape has changed, the people are slowly adapting, the challenges are greater than ever, but we still gather around the Table of the Altar, we still announce and celebrate our existence as the People of God, and we still gather around the common table for food and drink, all led by a great young pastor and his helper, one of our veteran priests.

     Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Francis de Sales.  To those of that former parish community I say thank you and God bless!   And to those of the new Saint Francis of Assisi parish I say keep growing in the love of the Lord and of each other and God bless!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Father Len! I was a student at All Saints from 1982-1991, and I'm the one who bought and converted the house. Hopefully the link below to some pictures will work. That's Ed Rockwell in the confessional picture and some of the other pictures. I bought the house after moving back to the area in 2008. Many of my All Saints classmates are still in the area, and we occasionally get together for little mini-reunions. The church had great bones (including that roof) and I drove to Sharpsburg to match the exact style and color of the siding when we needed a little bit more to finish. The stained glass cross on the altar is now on the side of a barn on a hill in Westmoreland County, and I still have some of the windows that I haven't gotten around to selling. I'm proud to be the owner of the "church house"!
    -Stacey Papa