St Margaret Mary
1110 Pennsylvania Ave
Apalachin, NY 13732
St. Margaret Mary Hall
Calendar / Events:
The History of St. Margaret Mary’s Church
Reflections On Ministry
The History of St. Margaret Mary’s Church
Originally written by Patti and Deacon Joe Federowicz in 1986, edited for 1999 and internet presentation
As we celebrate our annual parish picnic this year on August 17th, the year 1986 marks our 20th anniversary on these grounds, with the parish picnic as a special “summerfest” celebration, commemorating this milestone in our lives as a local church.
Many people have asked how the church began in Apalachin. Our roots are very interesting and exciting, sprinkled with humor, folklore and inspiration. In the early 1950s the small Catholic population in Apalachin appealed to the Chancery Office in the Rochester Diocese for a place to gather for Mass. In parallel with this expression of faith, Fr. William O’Brien, pastor of St- Patrick’s Church, Owego, was seeking to establish a Mission church in the Campville area. Clinging to their faith, the people of Apalachin succeeded in convincing the Rochester Diocese to consider Apalachin as a growing community of believers who needed a place of worship. The local Grange Hall (which later became the Apalachin library and home of Jaycees), was selected as the site where the Mission church would be established.
In November 1954, the first Mass was celebrated in the Grange Hall. Fr. O’Brien’s practice was to arrive about 15 minutes before Mass time to hear confessions in the kitchen. An altar-table was set up in the main hall on the first floor; candles and a cross were added, as well as a wooden kneeler, which served as an altar rail during the distribution of Communion, and folding chairs were put in place for the Assembly by Joe Valabek and John McGivern. One had to be careful when going to receive Communion, as the wooden kneeler was not anchored to the floor and it would flip up if too much weight was placed on one end of it!
Some thirty families attended the first Mass; on holy days, however, the Hall would be overflowing with people, prompting the question, “Where did all the people come from?” It was soon discovered that many of those in attendance were not Catholic and had come out of curiosity to see what this new venture was that was happening in the Grange Hall. John McGivern and Joe Valabek served as the original Trustees of this mission church.
In 1953, approximately 3.44 acres of land at the current church site was purchased by Fr. O’Brien from Wilbur and Josephine Van Riper. As the population grew, it quickly became evident that the Grange Hall was too small. Around 1955, the building and property on New Street was purchased. The building itself had formerly been a Jewish synagogue, and had been transported to the New Street location from Binghamton. It was converted into a Baptist church, which later on splintered off into two other church groups, and a local bank took it over. It was at this time that it was purchased by the Mission church and renovated into a Catholic edifice and the Mission church moved from the Grange Hall to New Street.
The New Street Church was dedicated by Bishop James E. Kearney on May 27, 1956. Fr. O’Brien came to celebrate Mass at first, followed by the Carmelite Fathers from the Waverly monastery. Fr. Mike Reagan and the Carmelite Fathers continued celebrating Mass and hearing confessions until the arrival of Fr. Valentine Jankowiak in late June 1959, as the first pastor of St. Margaret Mary’s Church, now no longer a mission church. When contacted by phone at his retirement residence recently, Fr. Jan stated that he arrived in Apalachin on the same day that Fr. Mike Reagan was celebrating the funeral Mass of late Joseph Barbera.
During the early days at New Street, men from the parish began to enlarge the crawl space into a basement under the church building, which was a long and arduous task. The basement was completed in November of 1959 and served as a Church Hall which was primarily used for bingo and meetings. As the population continued to increase sometimes Mass was celebrated in the main sanctuary as well as in the basement. A small, one-story ranch house, located directly across the street next door to the old Post Office building, served as the first rectory. During Confirmation in the early 1960s, it became apparent that the New Street Church was too small. The members of the Confirmation class and their families completely filled the entire church! Some of the men ran around the area picking up television sets, and one of them produced the right kind of camera and Confirmation was televised to the overflow crowd in the basement. Afterwards, Fr. Jan went looking head usher Fred Brown: asking, “Where’s the collection?” to which Fred responded, “I couldn’t get into church, let alone take up a collection.”
Having acquired the 3.44 acres in the early 1950s, representatives from the diocese came down to inspect the current church site for future building. Their conclusion was that it wasn’t large enough. So, in December 1961, a total of 16.5 acres was purchased from the Van Ripers. The Building Fund Drive for the new church began in January 1962, and the land was paid for in full in January 1963.
On Sunday, October 17, 1965 ground breaking ceremonies for our current church complex took place with Monsignor Donald Cleary as the main speaker. Architect James Mawry drew up the plans for a maintenance-free, everything interconnected on one floor, including church offices and rectory, modeled after the Spanish missions of California at an estimated cost of $400,000. The original plans called for completion by December 1st, 1966 as Fr. Jan scooped out the first shovel-hill of earth. During the course of the Building Fund Drive, a miniature newspaper was published to keep parishioners aware of what was happening and excitement began to build.
In November of 1966, it became evident that the church would not be completed by the December 1 deadline. Expectation had been running high in hopes of celebrating the first Mass in the new church on Christmas Eve. And so, the construction crew was given notice that all equipment had to be removed by Christmas Eve; they could return after that and finish up whatever still needed to be done. On Christmas Eve, the parking lot was being plowed as snow continued falling, while inside on the bare concrete floor, stood all available folding chairs gathered from New Street and St. Patrick’s, Owego, with Bob Paccone at the organ and directing the choir for the celebration of the first Mass. The Main Altar from the New Street Church had been installed as the altar of the Blessed Sacrament, and all of the statues from New Street were also in place in the new church.
After the holiday season the construction crew worked during the week and, according to Fr. Jan, Mass was held on weekends and holidays until the church was completed. The total cost was approximately $500,000 excluding the Hall, which was to be added at a future date. On September 24th, 1967, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen of Rochester presided at the dedication of the new St. Margaret Mary’s Church. It was an exciting and memorable event in the life of this faith community. Bishop Sheen did not like cameras taking pictures during the service, but the enthusiasm and excitement of the people at this historic event was so contagious that mid-way through his dedication speech Bishop Sheen stopped abruptly, and while repositioning hi stance, asked. “How do you like this for a pose?” as the cameras busily clicked away.
The first Parish Council began here in 1968 and Fr. Doug Hoffman became our first assistant pastor remaining with us for three years. He was followed by Fr. Richard Belligatti in 1971, Fr. Stokes in 1972, and Fr. Gene Emo in 1973. We had grown to approximately 750 families, from a beginning of 30 families in 1954.
Some of the organizations. committees and societies in existence during these early years were:
- The Holy Name Society, an association for men in the parish, was one of the first societies at St Margaret Mary’s. The primary aim of the Society was to foster the participation of men in the spiritual and social life of the parish. They also took responsibility for numerous improvements of the parish buildings, and operated the weekly parish Bingo game held in the parish hall. They met on the 4th Monday of the month at 8:30 pm in the parish hall.
- The Altar & Rosary Society was an association for the ladies of the parish, with its objective to enrich the spiritual life of its members and to sponsor social events for the ladies of the parish. They also assisted the pastor in providing special supplies that were required in the church.
- The Youth Advisory Beard sponsored activities for the young people of the community. This board sponsored “The Escape Hatch”, which was located in the basement and provided a place for young people to meet, as well as activities for them. It was non-denominational and provided ping-pong tables, pin-ball machines, a coke machine, a juke box, and kitchen privileges with the approval of the chaperones. The Youth set the pace and planned the activities, and the chaperones supervised and assisted them. This board also assisted in the formation of the Teen Council, which was composed of adult and teen representatives of the established organizations in Apalachin, who pooled their resources in an effort to create organized activities for the Youth of Apalachin. They usually met on the 1st Thursday of the month at 8:00 pm in the church hall. This Board also acted as the adult supervisory group for St. Margaret Mary’s Christian Youth fellowship.
- The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was an organization of men and women in the parish who conducted religious education classes for children and adults of the parish. The main objective of the CCD program was to assist the parish priests in spreading the Christian message.
- The Parish Finance Committee coordinated the financial activities of the parish, meeting quarterly to review the expenditures for the last quarter, and to plan for the financial needs of the parish.
In 1974, both Fr. Jan and Fr. Emo were reassigned. Fr. Elmer Schmidt came to us as our second pastor. Although the planning for our current parish Hall began in 1972–73, the actual kick-off of the Hall Building Fund campaign and construction of the Hall building took place in 1974, and was completed in 1975 during Fr. Schmidt’s pastorate. Another significant milestone during Fr. Schmidt’s pastorate was the dedication of the outdoor statute of the Risen Christ on October 11th, 1981, during our Eucharistic Day celebration that year. The statute arrived here from Italy on June 26th, 1981, the Feast of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. It was planted on the soil of the front lawn on a special prepared base on October 10th, with electrical wiring to spotlight it in the dark.
It was also during Fr. Schmidt’s pastorate that we experienced a time of intense renewal and rapid growth. The concept of “shared responsibility” took root and was further enfleshed with the commissioning of lay persons as extraordinary ministers of the eucharist and with lectors. For the first time, the hiring of a part-time professional Religions Education Coordinator, June-Marie Mullen, and the expansion of the religious education programs, as the further directives of Vatican Council II continued to be implemented. The Parish Council revised & updated it’s Constitution & Bylaws, building-up it’s standing committees: Liturgy, Religious Education, Human Development, Finance, Buildings & Grounds, Family Life, Youth, and initiated Tithing, 10% of our total parish income per year. Regional Assemblies at Ithaca were full of life and people. P.C. representatives and parishioners at-large gathered to elect delegates to the Diocesan Pastoral Council from the Tioga-Tompkins Region, and to listen to presentations on the issues in the Church. They sought peaceful solutions, shared their struggles in coping, and discovered how much they had in common, alleviating the sense of aloneness that frequently accompanies pilgrims on the journey to becoming church.
The Good Shepherd Prayer Group was meeting on Friday evenings in the church. Many of our parishioners were experiencing renewal, peer ministry and growth within the prayer group, as well as in the Marriage Encounter, Cursillo and Charismatic renewal movements. Our Youth were discovering renewal in Teen Seminar, the Reality groups and beginning their Lenten apostolate of presenting the Living Stations to area parishes. Having found new life and vision in the renewal movements, many average people returned to their parishes wanting to share, willing to risk themselves in the struggling. emerging ministries as best they could. The Adult Folk Group began leading us in song-prayer at one weekend liturgy per week, our new communal Reconciliation celebrations and Healing services. Joanna Lynn and the Youth Folk Group ministered once per week at another weekend liturgy, and others volunteered (were drafted) as song leaders and instrumentalists at other liturgies in need. Fr. Schmidt himself was instrumental in introducing the Parish Renewal Weekend here. He also helped with the formation of the Tioga County Rural Ministry (TCRM), which is supported by five parishes in Tioga County. Our Food Pantry came into being in embryonic stage, and we experienced the beginnings of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.) process. We welcomed the Geneseo students, who came to stay with us while ministering to the elderly poor and needy in the county. We sponsored three Vietnamese boat families, helping them to find food, housing, jobs, to learn English and in general supporting them until they were independently established, either here in the area, or elsewhere with relatives who had preceded them to this country. Individual parishioners sponsored the Mississippi Box family, while some boarded a bus sponsored by the local Right To Life group to take part in the January Right To Life March in Washington. D.C., and the Family Life committee was sponsoring “Cabaret Nights”.
Who can forget the joy of that memorable Sunday afternoon when 100 men of the parish turned out, in response to Fr. Elmer’s plea, to take a parish census preparatory to our first annual Bishops’ Thanksgiving Appeal, which was also very successful. Or, the number of hungry people who flocked to both morning and evening Adult Education sessions: “The Book”, “The Edge of Adventure”, “Living the Adventure”, “Drumbeat”, “Inner Healing”, “death and Dying” of the Fr. John Powell & Dr. Dobson series. We continued to celebrate the Thanksgiving Ecumenical Services and our summer parish picnic with our neighbors, the Apalachin United Methodist and the Park Terrace United Methodist churches yearly. We also expanded our out-reach to the unchurched with “Bring a Friend to Church Sunday”, and with home visitations during the summer months. We initiated Neighborhood Forums, and enjoyed the Ice Cream Socials as fund raisers to establish support for Catholic school children in the parish, until eventually subsidizing their parents so the children could continue attending Catholic schools. The debt on the church and the hall was paid in full under Fr. Elmer’s pastorate, and we helped to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood before he was reassigned.
The year 1983 heralded a three-fold change. On April 9th, 1983, a group of parishioners traveled to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester to be present when Bishop Matthew H. Clark ordained the second class of Permanent Deacons for the Rochester Diocese, of which our own Joseph F. Federowicz, was a member; another first for this growing parish family. On June 11th, members of every local church in the diocese were represented as a Task Force for Evangelization in Geneva, N.Y. The event was captioned, “Harvest a Hundred Fold”, and it emphasized that all of us need to be evangelized in some way. The focus was on Chapter Five of Pope Paul VI’S encyclical “Evangeli Nuntuandi” (The Gospel Must Be Proclaimed), which dealt with five classifications of people who need evangelization: 1] 52,000,000 active American Catholics, 2] 15,000,000 inactive or estranged American Catholics, 3] 75,000,000 Christians in America, in addition to Catholic Christians, 4] 12,000,000 members of religions that are now Christian and 5] the 70,000,00 unchurched of America. A great challenge lay ahead of the contemporary church — the task of broadening the vision of the Catholic people from preoccupation with nurture and maintenance of the faith to out-reach and sharing of the faith.
Faced with this mandate & the reassignment of our “German Shepherd”, Fr. Elmer, we welcomed Fr. David P. Simon, as our third pastor. Although his official appointment as pastor began at 6:00 pm on June 28th, Fr. Dave delayed his arrival here. He decided to make a retreat (from June 29th – July 1st) before taking up his first pastorate, to help prepare him for beginning our ministry together, and to seek the gifts he would need from the Lord, as well as the gifts that we, as a parish family would need. His installation as pastor took place on July 10th, 1983 at 2:00 pm. In his first letter to our parish family, he reminded us of three things: 1] an item that had caught his eye while reading our parish profile which was the statement that “you wanted a leader who would try new things.” (he promised to hold us to that request), 2] his own motto in ministry from 2 Cor. 4:7–8: “We carry this treasure in vessels of clay to show that the abundance of power is God’s and not ours.”, 3] “We must acknowledge together that Jesus is pastor, that He must own the service and gifts of each one of our hearts.”
Fr. Dave reinforced the concept of ‘shared responsibility’ by forming a personnel committee, expanding the part-time Religious Education Coordinator’s ministry to full-time, and added a pastoral staff to help him to facilitate and to enable the ministry of the parishioners themselves, emphasizing that each parish family member is a pastoral minister. Simultaneously with Fr. Dave’s arrival here, the diocesan Religious Education office changed the emphasis from religious education to Christian Formation, which embraces the growth in all areas of Christian life. Under Fr. Dave’s pastorate, we experienced our first Brusselman’s First Eucharist Preparation, which added the extra component of parish and family involvement in the preparation of our little ones for the sacrament of Eucharist. The following year was the addition of Brusselman’s First Reconciliation Preparation, which also uses parish and family involvement. A new, two-year Confirmation program with deferral of the sacrament until ninth grade. incorporated a modified “Life in the Spirit Seminar” (prayer experience) as direct preparation for the sacrament. A reorganization of our School of Religion saw us move from double sessions on a Monday evening to single sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Full implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults began with the celebration of all the Rites of the R.C.I.A. process, and methods of pre-baptism preparation changed from group presentations to couple-to-couple presentations.
A carillon was installed in the newly relocated sacristy (near the church entrance) and dedicated in memory of our first two pastors. Fr. Jan and Fr. Elmer. It now rings-out the Angelus thrice daily calling our people to worship at the appropriate times, tolling for funerals, and gloriously pealing at the celebration of weddings and other joyful occasions. The serenading of worship hymns can be heard in between times, symbolizing the presence of this Christian community, reminding even the weariest pilgrim of God’s Love for them, providing hope in the dark. These hymns rotate seasonally, thanks to the generosity of some of our parishioners, who have donated various carillon tapes in memory of departed loved ones.
During the Neighborhood Forums, a fact that evidenced quickly and repeatedly was ‘how few people knew their own neighbors,’ pointing to a great need for evangelization and communications. One of the first projects tackled was the installation of a new phone system to provide confidentiality in ministry, as well as to facilitate communications adequate to our needs. As ministry needs continued to surface, it soon became evident that additional staff (important for programming), budgeting of funds, both, long-term and short-term ministry planning were necessary to relieve the burdens on Fr. Dave, while keeping in mind the adage that “the role of leadership is to train others to do the job you are doing, because someday it might have to be done without you.” And also the fact, that more lay ministry would be needed in the future to replace the functions of the “disappearing” priest. Early on, the Saint Val’s Club, a welcome fund raiser, was established with its weekly drawings and yearly dinner-dance, which was warmly enjoyed by all in attendance.
When the person who had been carrying out the secretarial duties prior to Fr. Dave’s arrival resigned, applications for the job of Parish Secretary were submitted. Helen Kowalewski was hired to coordinate this vital communications center and to handle the “trillions” of items and phone calls that flow through this office, among which are the scheduling of appointments with the pastor, scheduling the use of the Hall, issuing Mass cards, preparing the weekend Bulletin, maintaining parish records, and processing the paperwork for upcoming marriages, baptisms, deaths, first eucharist, penance and confirmation, not to mention the usual secretarial duties of taking dictation, typing, bookkeeping, paying bills, incoming & outgoing mail, re-ordering of supplies, entering information into the computer, handling the census sheets and many others. Helen came to us highly qualified, having worked as a church secretary prior to moving into the area, and she was a most welcome and necessary addition. In no way does this brief glimpse of her position description do justice to the multitude of action items she handles in the course of a routine day, as well as sometimes praying with a troubled caller in need. A most welcome asset indeed
Additional staff personnel were hired: Patti Federowicz (completing four years service as the Parish Council Secretary), and having previously been certified by the diocese was hired as full-time Pastoral Assistant/Parish Visitor and Coordinator of Liturgical Ministries. Her responsibilities lie in welcoming new parishioners, she has a supervisory role in keeping the parish census current, she acts as intake person for new families, assessing needs, making the proper referrals to committees, person or agencies; coordinates eucharistic ministry to shut-ins, follow-up visits on hospital referrals as designated by the pastor, post-baptismal follow-up visits, post-matrimonial visits to newlyweds living locally, ministers to bereaved persons and families. She shares in a liturgical role and coordinates liturgical ministry including acting as homilist at weekend liturgies at the request of the pastor, oversees the recruitment, training & scheduling of all liturgical ministers, coordinates details for the celebration of weekend liturgies, holy days, special liturgies, healing services and periodic celebrations of the Anointing of the Sick, conducts interviews for the sacraments of First Eucharist, Penance, Confirmation, and interviews for annulment petitions and testimony, along with an outreach to the unchurched, as well as participating in a welcoming presence to the community at weekend liturgies, social and spiritual events and other staff duties as requested by the pastor.
Nancy Chapura, another well qualified person, having worked previously for the Social Services Department of Tioga County was hired as part-time Coordinator of Family Sevices and Stephen Ministry Training Coordinator. She was given responsibility in counseling parishioners in need of support and encouragement on a one-on-one basis for family crisis situations, or where ongoing support is necessary. After experiencing the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training (along with Ed Hanousek and Fr. Dave at the University of Baltimore), she is responsible for the recruitment, training, supervision and placement of the Stephen Ministers. All referrals and requests for a Stephen Minister flow through Fr. Dave to Nancy. She also attends meetings and performs any other job related duty as directed by the pastor.
Vella Melzer, Dean of the Binghamton Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, a 27-year veteran in the music ministry, recitalist and church music workshop leader was hired part-time as Pastoral Musician and Organist, to coordinate our music ministries, to provide music resources, to minister via organ at weekend liturgies and feast days, as well as at special celebrations, and is responsible for the recruitment and training of cantors, the formation of an adult choir, conducting rehearsals, and to be available for weddings and funerals, helping people to become more aware of being prayerful people of God; helping to make our liturgies alive and welcoming with Jesus own Love, so that our sense of being the People of God can take flesh.
In the winter of 1984, we held our first parish Mission, which is a concept of evangelization and renewal, brought to us by Fr. Dave from his previous assignment. Occurring during the winter doldrums, it was a positive and insightful blending of various segments of renewal, sacraments and sacramentals into an eight night retreat. Its purpose is to create a warm, friendly, hospitable environment to provide insight and awareness, which enables those in attendance to experience the presence of God in a deeper, more personal way, yet, with a bonding to others which gives new life and hope to the real presence of the Kingdom of God in their midst. Approximately 250 people attended the first Mission with similar numbers attending each of the subsequent Missions in the years that followed. As follow-up, Mini-Missions (one evening of renewal), are sprinkled throughout the year, to continue and to support the ongoing spirit of Mission as spiritual nourishment which enables those who attend to continue to live out their commitment to the Lord and to the entire parish family, to the building up of the Kingdom of God in this community.
The renewal of human development into the parish Social Ministry is a fundamental action of the Church. No parish can be complete unless it develops an explicit way to educate people about the role of the Christian in society, and when needed, to formulate a way that the Christian community can be involved in responding to the needs of people for service, justice and peace. The main emphasis of this ministry is human care, action on behalf of justice and peace and pastoral care for institutions. Participation in regional social ministry meetings is essential to set plans and goals which includes a network for training, referral, and education of the parish-at-large.
During his first months here, Fr. Dave initially preached three homilies on this ministry and we also viewed a filmstrip, “The Last Slideshow,” in place of the homily at one of our weekend liturgies. We also experienced a series of seminars on the American Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, “The Challenge for Peace”. Some of the in-sights brought to awareness were: peace-making is not an optional commitment, it is a requirement of our faith confirmed by Jesus Christ; we need to absorb all the Life issues into our hearts, and see the “Challenge for Peace” Pastoral as a microcosm for the salvation of all humanity; when men build arms they have always used them; the fundamental principle on which our present peace depends must be replaced by another, which declares that true and solid peace of nations consists not in equality of arms, but in mutual trust alone; offensive war of any kind is not justifiable; the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race, it is an act of aggression against the poor, and a folly which does not provide the security it promises; and the concept of peace and justice for all people as a normative life style is looked upon by many as a utopian concept, again pointing to the need for evangelization and communications.
Some notable effects were: the Parish Council and Committees became more and more involved in non-violent conflict resolutions on major issues leading to individual, as well as community growth in Christian awareness. New ministries also came into being. Through dialogue, reflection and prayer with the TCRM Sisters, the pastors of the Apalachin United Methodist church and the Park Terrace United Methodist church, Fr. Dave and Deacon Joe, an agreement to embark on a journey to combine resources to help the poor and needy in Apalachin was reached. Subsequent meetings to form a steering committee and functional teams with recruited volunteers from all three churches, exposed them to the vision of ministry together; a vision that excited them, people from all three churches working hand in hand with their time, talent and treasure to help reduce the poverty that exists here in Apalachin, helping people in need. And so, Serving Apalachin Together (SAT) was born, and one of its key elements is to work with other agencies to establish and keep a current referral system. SAT acts in an advocacy role with other agencies in seeking discernment and determining the proper course of action to be taken. Where assistance is not available, SAT will strive to provide what is essential for the well-being of those in need. SAT is now a non-profit organization, and is currently in process of filing form #1023 with the Internal Revenue Service to apply for exempt status, to enable continual growth through obtaining grants from corporations, foundations and government agencies The next step is the preparation of a logo and a brochure explaining the purpose of SAT as well as a letter writing campaign to aid the community become more aware of SAT, the need it fulfills, and to obtain charitable contributions. Future growth calls for a nine-member board of directors, re-establishing functional teams, consolidating operations out of a centrally located office, and a needs assessment to determine the types of programs and priorities most needed. On August 12th, 1986, Deacon Joe was notified that he had been granted a Community Leave of Absence from his job, beginning on January 1st, 1987 (for six months), which allowed him to more freely and actively facilitate and enable the building-up of this ministry, as director, Deacon Joe’s assignment is two-fold: his Ministry Assignment is Serving Apalachin Together and his liturgical base at St. Margaret Mary’s includes presiding at baptisms, weddings, wakes, prayer and funeral services, preaching and assisting at the eucharist. He is also a member of the parish pastoral staff.
Stephen Ministry is a one-to-one ministry by trained, caring parishioners who reach-out to others in time of need. It is a commitment to caring and supporting one another, to building a Christ-centered sharing community. The ministry is named after Saint Stephen, the first deacon in the early church who was commissioned by the apostles to care for the community’s needs. Stephen Ministry is based on the idea that all Christians are ministers and that the responsibility of passing on God’s Love for people lies not just with a few, but with all. Through lecture, discussion and experiential learning, people learn everything from how to be an effective listener, to specific techniques for ministering to grieving people. The parish members being trained make a commitment to 50 hours of training before being commissioned and then being assigned to work with a person in need. Each person is asked to make a two-year commitment, including a year of training and an additional year of working in the one-to-one situation. Close supervision is provided by the training team. Nancy Chapura and Ed Hanousek were the first parishioners from St. Margaret Mary’s, along with Fr. Dave, to undergo the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training Program at the University of Baltimore in the summer of 1985. When they returned they began setting-up classes and a schedule for training other parishioners, with Nancy coordinating. Approximately 15 people were in the first class that finished this year, and are now actively ministering. This year (1986) Marion Geiser and Dick Aurielly attended the Leadership Training Program at Baltimore U., and Ed, Marion and Dick carried on the training and supervision of this care giving ministry, and are anticipating a class of about 11 persons this fall. Coordinator for the year 1986–87 was be Barbara Fisher, due to Nancy’s temporary transfer absence.
With Fr. Dave’s enthusiastic and inspiring preaching, we accomplished another first: a number of parish family members were motivated to fill an entire bus to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Right-to-Life March in January 1984. The following year, we filled three buses, departing from the church parking lot following an 11:00 pm liturgy. Also that year, a picture of our red and white St. Margaret Mary’s Banner (which our parishioners took turns carrying in the March), appeared in an edition of the U.S. and World News Report. The following year, we again filled three buses full of people and sent them to the Washington March, and our same red and white Banner appeared on CNN national television coverage. Organizers Ed Hanousek and Joe Watson, Fr. Dave and staff members accompanied each of these trips, and did a fantastic job of keeping track of everyone during the necessary stops along the way.
Most organizations have operating philosophies, and Christian churches have the Mission of Jesus Christ to share in and carry on. It became evident that before there could be any consideration of setting-up a new budget for the fiscal year, a Parish Mission Statement was necessary. Any goals, long range and short range, ministry planning programs, etc. should align with and reflect our cooperation in bringing about who we have stated ourselves to be, or, our Statement of Purpose. With Ken Fay facilitatling, staff formulated the following parish mission statement: “We are a people of faith being called to know Jesus, to be open to his love for us, and his acceptance of us. We are a people being calling into relationship with one another, to care for, and to love one another as a worshiping family. We are a people called to share ministry in order to proclaim the good news.” When it was later presented to Parish Council for approval, it was accepted by consensus; it sets priorities for us, both as individuals and as a parish family in budgeting.
Liturgically speaking, we implemented serving both elements of Bread and Wine at all of our weekend liturgies in October 1983. At our Patronal Feastday weekend celebration, we dedicated our newly installed carillon in memory of our first two pastors, Fr. Valentine A. Jankowiak and Fr. Elmer J. Schmidt. Other joys for St. Margaret Mary’s included the opening-up of all Liturgical Ministries to all youth who have been Confirmed, which drew many of our youth into these ministries, and the implementation of the Ministry of Sacristan, the people who care for the vessels in the House of the Lord, setting-up before Mass those articles, elements and vessels to be used during each liturgy, along with other beforehand preparations, such as recruiting persons and families to prepare the table at mass, and ensuring that there are sufficient Eucharistic Ministers on hand to serve the Lord’s people as efficiently as possible. Our Pre-Cana couples who do the Presentations at the Pre-Cana Day are also wedding sacristans for the weddings of the couples they help to prepare for marriage. They conduct the wedding rehearsal the night before the wedding and on the wedding day itself, they set-up for Liturgy of the Word and assist the families of the bride and groom in whatever possible way they may need help.
We experienced our shepherd’s unique creativity in church decorating at Christmastime, and we will long remember the reenactment of the Lord’s Supper Eucharist on Holy Thursday evening, with parishioners portraying the twelve apostles and Fr. Dave as Servant Jesus, in a setting much like the one in which the original Last Supper was celebrated. Numerous people have commented on how they were moved to healing tears throughout the evening, which culminated in a procession arriving at the Table of Repose where private adoration of the eucharistic presence took place until midnight. Others shared their excitement at the full restoration of celebrating the Nightwatch of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday evening. Beginning with the Lighting of the New Fire on the church portico, seeing the awesome joy on the glowing faces of the catechumens and their families as they process into the darkened church, presents us with a vivid glimpse of the early church’s custom of receiving new members into their communities and their rituals of initiation. One was reminded of the fact that for the early Christian communities, Easter was the greatest, all-encompassing feastday of the year commemorating the Lord’s Resurrection, redeeming all humankind. As the early Christians shared in the joy and celebration of their newest members, they recommitted themselves in renewing their baptismal promises on this holiest of evenings, as the gentle electrifying presence of the Risen Lord in the Holy Spirit moved among them distributing ministry gifts, as well as baptizing and affirming those present, flooding their hearts with such joy and motivating them to respond with full-throated singing of praises to God.
We also recall the request of the Broome Developmental Center residents to be allowed to worship at Christian churches outside of their institutional setting on Sunday. And it has truly been our privilege to have them worship with us on a regular basis, and deeply moving and heartwarming to see our youth move among them as they facilitate them from the Center to church, helping them back and forth from the pews as they join us at Mass. Under Fr. Dave’s creative stewardship, the rectory was refurbished for the first time in about 17 years, and the Crying Room in the church became Sacred Heart Chapel on weekdays when Mass is celebrated there, as well as when the Liturgy of the Word and Communion are presided over by lay people during Fr. Dave’s absence. Another monumental and inspirational first, were the Wednesday evening Lenten ecumenical prayer services with pulpit exchanges in the spring of 1986, alternating locations with the Apalachin United Methodist and the Park Terrace United Methodist churches and St. Margaret Mary’s; Rev. Doug Sivers, Rev. Don Knott, Fr. Dave, Deacon Joe and Patti Federowicz shared in the preaching.
Pre-printed bulletins reduced the workload on our parish secretary, as well as the production costs, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, the advertisers on the back cover, to whom we are deeply grateful. The hall kitchen was made more serviceable through remodeling with the installation of equipment and items that it had been lacking. Time, talent and treasure are the underpinnings of ministry; and without anyone of them, ministry suffers. The Finance Committee has beautifully facilitated ministry, as well as capital projects as needed, and has tremendously lifted the financial burden from Fr. Dave, and the Parish Council, who no longer have to struggle with the budget, but can get right down to their own ministry.
Parish Council moved away from the parliamentary model of decision making to the discernment model, which has the theology of gifts (1 Cor. 12) as its primary theological foundation. Each believer or parish council member has a different gift or insight; each of these is only part of the whole gift the spirit bestows on the community. The spirit-willed direction emerges as all the insights are placed before the community. This change in direction was thought to be more in keeping with the Council’s pastoral, consultative nature.
Another change took place when it was realized that we had a full pastoral staff, and it became evident that there was a multiplication of people resources in the various committee liaisons. After looking over the situation, the council and staff decided that the efforts of the Council members acting as committee liaisons could be better utilized in endeavors that would more effectively serve the parish family-at-large, such as establishing committees to address the issues of evangelization and communications, stewardship and ways and means. The Council initiated an Evangelization Committee and a Communications Committee. The P.C. standing committees are now liaisoned by pastoral staff memebers, who report committee decisions to the Parish Council. These in turn, are communicated to the parish-at-large through the monthly Bulletin insert publications. There is a need for evangelization, and the evangelized need to be mobilized to reach-out and share faith.
After a year long study of how many people attend each weekend liturgy, the Liturgy Committee proposed another change: a Summer Mass Schedule, and it cited three facts which emerged from its study: 1] during the Winter months, the 5:15-pm Saturday Mass is the least attended; 2] during the Summer months, the 11:30-am Sunday Mass is the least attended; 3] there is a great seasonal fluctuation at the 8:00-am Sunday Mass, which is more often than not, few in numbers. Add to these, the fact that summer mass attendance overall is low due to many people being away or at summer cottages leading also to a scarcity of liturgical ministers, the Committee concluded that our real need may be for fewer but better weekend liturgies. The new schedule was implemented on the 1st weekend of July 1986 to run through the month of September: 5:15 pm Saturday, 8:00 am, and 10:00 am Sunday.
The Pastoral Staff Offices have recently been relocated, with the Religious Education Coordinator’s office now residing in what was formerly the Brown Room (Rooms 5 and 7) in the hall basement. The Family Services and Stephen Ministry Coordinator’s office is located in the Office at the foot of the stairs leading up into the hall. Our new music room and pastoral musician’s office is located in the room behind the church sanctuary. The Pastoral Assistant and the Director of SAT, (Serving Apalachin Together) share office space in the room alongside of the church sanctuary.
The 1992 parish directory, a project of the Communications Committee was busily summoning parishioners to have their pictures taken in preparation for it’s publication due in the spring. For those who missed the picture-taking sessions, a make-up session was scheduled.
Jo Van Riper won the car raffle at the Summer Picnic, while others won trips to Florida and the Bahamas and 35 mm cameras. A music group, “Tucson” entertained us this year, and many enjoyed dancing to their musical offerings, contributing to the great success of this special event.
At the 1986 Patronal Feastday Celebration on October 19th weekend, the Altar and Rosary Society donated and dedicated an outdoor statue of Mary, called “Our Lady of Grace”, which adorns a corner of the front lawn of the rectory, extending the gracious hospitality of God’s Love to all.
We’ve come a long way, yet, we still hare a long road to travel. No doubt many of you can add your own memories to this nostalgic reverie, which is by no means intended to encompass the total account of our parish history. We have been so blessed as a faith community in our short and energetic life with gifted pastors, clergy. men and women of courageous faith and hope. to be where we are today. And many will follow after us who will hare their own chapters of memories to add to these.
Faced with new challenges and a church in transition, we continually pioneer and seek the vision of who the Lord would have us become, as we give thanks for what has been, while celebrating our common journey of faith today, saying, “yes, Lord, here we are, Lord” to tomorrow.
The final two paragraphs in the Federowicz’ history, written in August 1986, are just as meaningful 1999. A continuation by someone in the parish would be greatly appreciated, and would enlighten us for the new millenium. Significant events include the remodeling of the Sanctuary (1991), new stained glass windows (1991, 1999), the Internet Ministry (1998 — Hey! You’re there now!), the updated directory (1999), the formation of the regional Strength of Six (1998?), and the leaky roof (pre-1991 – present). Please contact us if you’re interested. Also, any photographs, artwork, or multimedia clips explaining our history would be appreciated.