IRONDEQUOIT — Speaking to a full church during Christmas Day Mass, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano called for unity among the faithful as the Latin Mass community transitions from St. Stanislaus Church in Rochester to St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish’s St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit.
Regular Masses at St. Thomas the Apostle Church ceased in 2010 as part of a new Mass schedule for the churches that comprised St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. Masses resumed at the church Nov. 30 and are offered at 9 a.m. in English and 11:15 a.m. in Latin, both celebrated by Father Dennis M. Bonsignore.
The Christmas Day visit from Bishop Matano was the first time he had visited the church since the resumption of regular Masses.
“I thank all who have prepared so beautifully for the solemn celebration of the birth of our savior,” Bishop Matano said. “I pray that we will understand this Christmas gift of unity, that we all may be one.”
The bishop’s homily focused on Jesus’ incarnation.
“We kneel with the shepherds and the kings at the crib, for indeed this is the real Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity, and we are at Bethlehem,” Bishop Matano said.
The bishop is scheduled to visit the other churches affected by the transition. He will celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany at Mass at 10 a.m. Jan. 4 at Christ the King Church, which also is part of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish; and the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord at Mass at 10 a.m. Jan. 11 at St. Stanislaus Kostka.
In addition to celebrating Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church Dec. 25, he also celebrated Mass Dec. 24 at Monroe Community Hospital, where Father Bonsignore serves as chaplain. Although Father Bonsignore remains chaplain at the hospital, Fathers Jack Healy and Joseph Demaio are the principal celebrants of Mass there at 11 a.m. on Sundays.
St. Thomas the Apostle remains under the administration of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish and will be leased to the Latin Mass community; the initiative is estimated to cost the community approximately $200,000 a year.
“The last few days have been very hectic and very thrilling with the joy of coming home for Christmas for many people,” Father Bonsignore said of the feelings among the community in the days leading up to Christmas.
John Catalano, who has been attending St. Thomas the Apostle for more than 50 years, said it was nice to see the church in regular use again. He said the goal for the community will be to fill the church on a regular basis.
“We are so excited to celebrate this glorious feast of our Lord and savior, and to be able to celebrate it here in the midst of our family and with our bishop is the best Christmas gift,” said Dorothy Hayes of Irondequoit.