Fairport’s Church of the Resurrection was founded in 1973, but early parishioners did not have a church of their own until 1976.
This did not bother them in the least, because both the parishioners and their founding pastor believed that “the church is the people,” and not a building, explained longtime parishioner Susie Scoppa.
It was fitting, then, that parishioners chose to celebrate Church of the Resurrection’s recent 50th anniversary with a family reunion, remarked Scoppa, chair of the committee that planned the event. More than 200 people participated in the Oct. 1 reunion in the parish hall. Some of them traveled from faraway places, while others have been parishioners since the parish’s earliest days, she said.
“It was filled with people who just wanted to talk and be with each other. That’s really the whole purpose of a family reunion. It was a joyous event, and that was our purpose,” Scoppa said.
Fairport parish formed as an offshoot from a neighboring parish in 1973
The parish’s founding pastor, Father Robert Kreckel, was at the reunion, along with Father William Graf, who served as pastor from 1998-2005, and Father William “Mickey” McGrath, who since 2021 has been pastor of both Church of the Resurrection and the neighboring Church of the Assumption.
The histories of Church of the Resurrection and Church of the Assumption have been intertwined from their earliest beginnings, according to Paul LaBombard, who belonged to Church of the Assumption for 20 years before becoming a founding parishioner of Church of the Resurrection.
“Everybody that was in the new boundaries was offered the choice of either joining the new parish or staying with Assumption. I guess it was about 50 of us that decided to join the new parish. We decided we’d try it. We were all young back then,” said LaBombard, who will turn 92 on Nov. 27.
Then-bishop Joseph L. Hogan had appointed Father Kreckel pastor of the fledgling parish, so Father Kreckel began meeting with the parishioners who’d expressed interest in joining Church of the Resurrection. Father Kreckel had previously served as assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus Parish in Auburn and pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Rochester, but founding a parish from scratch was a new experience for the priest.
“You go in naive. We didn’t have bell, book or candle. We didn’t have a lot of money or anything,” Father Kreckel told the Catholic Courier in May.
Founding parishioner shared a strong sense of community
Securing property and constructing a church were not Father Kreckel’s first priorities, he said. Rather, he was instructed to found a parish inspired by the Second Vatican Council, which had concluded just eight years before he received his assignment.
“Bishop Hogan said he wanted a Vatican II parish, you know, and so that’s what we struggled to do. I guess my main focus at the time was to build a sense of community,” Father Kreckel said.
Many of the founding parishioners were young families, and a number of them were involved with such movements as Cursillo and Marriage Encounter.
“There was an eagerness on the part of many of them who came out of the renewal movements, so we groped our way along,” Father Kreckel said.
A church building was constructed three years after the parish was founded
The new parish’s first few Masses actually were celebrated at Church of the Assumption, first in the church’s sanctuary and later in the basement, LaBombard recalled. Several months later, the new parish moved its weekend liturgies to a classroom space in another parish’s catechetical center on Ayrault Road, he said. In the meantime, the parish purchased a foreclosed-upon home on Hamilton Street and began using it as a rectory, all the while actively searching for a place to construct a church, LaBombard said.
“It was exciting,” he remarked.
The parish eventually purchased the current property on Mason Road, he said.
“It was an old apple orchard, and we cleaned that out. When they started the construction, there was a labor dispute, so the shell was wide open to the weather all winter,” LaBombard recalled.
Parishioners volunteered their expertise, helping with everything from designing the new church to working on its plumbing system, Scoppa added.
Parish has continued to serve people’s needs while evolving with the times
Early parishioners felt a sense of ownership of their parish and worked hard to get it going, and that sense has never died away, LaBombard said.
“You try to keep involved and keep it going. Everybody is there to help everybody,” he said.
Church of the Resurrection’s friendly parishioners make the parish a warm, welcoming place, remarked Erin McCormick, who has belonged to the parish since she was a child. She enjoyed going to Mass as a child but appreciates the parish and its members even more now that she’s an adult.
The parish has always been good at meeting people where they are and providing just what they need, Scoppa added.
“Times have changed, but we’re still serving the needs of the people,” she said.Tags: Monroe County East