Parish anniversaries about the people, not the buildings
While parish anniversaries can occur any time of year, summer often seems to be the season for those events. And this issue of the Catholic Voice provides some examples, highlighting June anniversary celebrations for three parishes at different stages of parish life.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha, the young adult of the three, celebrates 25 years. Omaha’s St. Robert Bellarmine marks a mid-life celebration of 50 years, and St. Aloysius Parish of Aloys claims the great-grandparent phase with its 125-year celebration.
Any discussion of those milestones often includes a history of the parish centered on buildings – schools and churches, updates, additions and the like. That’s fine and the Catholic Voice sometimes takes that approach in reporting on parish anniversaries.
But parishes are much more than bricks and mortar or new windows and carpeting. And parish anniversaries celebrate much more than the buildings of a parish. Anniversaries celebrate people … the priests who served as pastors or associate pastors, the people who helped establish the parish, the people who called the parish home through the years, and the people who continue the parish today.
Parishes are communities, people sharing a special bond of faith and a special faith home. Parishes are about the people who are celebrated at baptisms, first Communions, first confessions, confirmations, weddings and funerals.
Parishes are dinners, festivals, bazaars, missions and all sorts of community celebrations. Parishes are meetings, faith formation, faith sharing, men’s and women’s organizations, youth groups, senior groups and more.
Parishes are people coming together to share their faith, to grow in their faith and to nurture others in their faith journey. And that’s something really worth celebrating on special anniversaries … or any anniversary.
The archdiocese buried another pioneer last month – Deacon Joseph "José" Ramirez.
Deacon Ramirez was a pioneer as part of the first class of permanent deacons for the archdiocese, ordained in 1973. That group of men opened the door to the diaconate for about 300 other men, more than 200 still serving in the archdiocese.
Deacon Ramirez also was a pioneer as the first deacon from the Latino community, and many others have followed his lead.
He set an example of service in his parish – Our Lady of Guadalupe in Omaha – through his involvement in several ministries and his efforts at establishing Masses for the Spanish-speaking community.
And his service extended beyond the parish and the church to the community, where he was involved in several efforts in support of Latinos.
But his greatest joy as a deacon, he told others, was baptizing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and witnessing his children’s and grandchildren’s weddings.
That’s where Deacon Ramirez made his most important mark – serving his family and living the sacrament of marriage for almost 64 years with his wife, Agatha.
Perhaps he wasn’t a pioneer in that sense, but he certainly provided an example for all.
TIME magazine’s June 3 cover story – "How to Stay Married (and why)" – seems, at first glance, to cover all the bases. Researchers specializing in several areas of married life are quoted. Studies are cited. Books are mentioned.
On one hand, the article dispels certain assumptions about marriage. But at the same time, it puts forward several ideas that seem ripe for some future researcher to refute.
In many ways, the article is pro-marriage, citing factors (age, income, education) that can help a marriage, as well as attitudes about commitment, the role of husbands and wives and children that also can strengthen a marriage.
But in all of those words, in all those citations of reports, studies and books, one word was glaring in its absence – faith.
And while that’s not surprising, it’s certainly disappointing.
Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.