Parish kicks off jubilee year - Catholic Courier
Parishioners of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish join hands for the Lord’s Prayer during a Sept. 13 jubilee Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the church building at Ontario’s St. Mary of the Lake Church. Parishioners of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish join hands for the Lord’s Prayer during a Sept. 13 jubilee Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the church building at Ontario’s St. Mary of the Lake Church.

Parish kicks off jubilee year

ONTARIO — Bishop Salvatore R. Matano’s voice rang out through the chilly morning air on Sept. 13 as he stood in front of St. Mary of the Lake Church and blessed the large cross that had been erected over the entranceway just days earlier. Inside the church, the pews were packed with parishioners who faced the door and listened intently to the bishop as he turned his attention from the cross to the church in front of him.

"Let us now enter the house of the Lord," Bishop Matano said as Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus led the procession into church and down the aisle toward the altar.

And with that, Bishop Matano officially opened a jubilee year at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, which includes St. Mary of the Lake as well as Church of the Epiphany in Sodus and its mission church, St. Rose of Lima in Sodus Point. The three churches merged to form St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in 2009.

The jubilee year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Ontario church building, but also is intended to bring parishioners from all three churches together into one cohesive parish family, noted Jean Bell, who coordinated the various teams that worked together to plan the jubilee year. The Holy Spirit will help bring this goal to fruition, noted fellow organizer Peg Dietl, who said she felt God’s spirit at work during the opening Mass on Sept. 13.

"I felt a very strong presence of the Holy Spirit just simmering, wafting, weaving through the church," Dietl said. "And when the bishop said let’s enter the house of God, it felt like a brand new building. It’s like a brand new church."

Longtime parishioner Ralph Marianetti remembers when St. Mary of the Lake was a brand new church. Construction on the church began in 1965 and concluded in 1966, and Marianetti recalled the excitement and anticipation of those years and the many wonderful moments he’s experienced inside the building since 1966.

"I’ve just stayed with it all these years," Marianetti said of the parish.

"It’s home," explained fellow parishioner Kevin Ghyzel.

Leonard Farnand, who at 102 has the distinction of being St. Maximilian Kolbe’s eldest parishioner, shared Ghyzel’s sentiments and sought to explain why the parish means so much to him.

"It’s a good Christian community, a good Catholic community," noted Farnand, who was honored during the Mass. His teenage grandchildren, Meghan and Shane Hake, brought a basket of prayer cards up to Bishop Matano to be blessed and distributed to parishioners after Mass.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano blesses St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners during a Sept. 13 jubilee Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the church building at Ontario’s St. Mary of the Lake Church.

Farnand and his grandchildren represent both ends of the spectrum of parishioners Bell hopes will participate in the jubilee year. She was pleased, she said, because the reception held immediately after the kick-off Mass attracted young families as well as senior citizens and parishioners of all ages in between. The jubilee year, which will conclude next September with another Mass with Bishop Matano, will feature everything from special Masses, worship services and retreats to euchre tournaments and parties.

"We’re trying to find a pathway for wherever people are. Not everyone is at the same place of just coming to a spiritual event or an extra prayer event," Bell explained. "For some, it’s going to come through going to a party and getting to know other people. The parties serve a bigger purpose. They get us together."

The jubilee already is bringing people together, opined LuAnn Irwin, a longtime parishioner who usually worships at Church of the Epiphany. In fact, the kick-off Mass marked Irwin’s first Mass at St. Mary of the Lake, even though she’s belonged to the committee planning the jubilee’s spiritual events for nearly a year.

Irwin volunteered to be on that committee, she said, because she wanted to deepen her spirituality and get to know other parishioners. She has formed deep friendships with her fellow committee members, several of whom she may never have met otherwise because they usually attend different worship sites. These newfound friendships are one unexpected result of the jubilee year and are part of what St. Maximilian Kolbe’s pastor, Father Symon Peter Ntaiyia, has dubbed, "the jubilee effect," Bell said.

This effect takes many forms, and parishioners have yet to recognize and identify this effect in all its forms, added Linda Bell, chair of the jubilee year’s communications team.

"The jubilee effect doesn’t have a name yet, but we’re going to be watching for it," Jean Bell remarked.


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