Several weeks back, Sister Joan Cawley, SSJ, began a series of weekly bulletin columns on the recent history of All Saints Parish. Th e fact that she’s still filing fresh installments is indicative of the parish’s many major changes.
Sister Cawley’s own job marked one such milestone: In 2000 she became the first pastoral administrator to head the faith communities of Corning and Painted Post. Her tenure will end in late June, as she completes 10 years overall in the All Saints churches. Her replacement will be Deacon Dean Condon, who has spent the past 11 years as pastoral administrator at Guardian Angels Parish in Henrietta, a suburb of Rochester.
“It was time for me to move on,” said Sister Cawley, who will now begin a six-month sabbatical. “I can say overall I really have enjoyed my time in Corning. It’s been a remarkable 10 years.”
Sister Cawley, 67, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1957 and logged many years in education and pastoral ministry. Much of that time has been spent in the Southern Tier. In addition to her decade in Corning and Painted Post, she was a teacher and principal from 1965 to 1980 at Catholic schools in Elmira.
In 1996 she arrived as a pastoral associate for what was then known as the Corning-Painted Post Catholic Community — a cluster that had been created in 1990 with one pastor overseeing the parishes of St. Mary, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Patrick, all in Corning; and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Painted Post. Sister Cawley’s new assignment was part of a transition that saw several committees and staff positions combined, and four parish councils becoming one.
In January 2000 Sister Cawley was named temporary pastoral administrator of Corning-Painted Post when Father Michael Conboy, the pastor, left for a new assignment in Rochester. Her appointment was made permanent in June of that year.
In the summer of 2001 the cluster was consolidated into a single parish of four worship sites, with all staffing, programs, finances and other aspects of parish activity joined. The new parish was named All Saints. Later that year St. Patrick’s Church closed due to mounting repair expenses and a projected decline in priest availability.
Then, in the fall of 2003, All Saints Academy consolidated its two school buildings into one, taking grades pre-K through 1 from the Denison Parkway facility and combining them with grades 2 through 8 at the State Street building.
“Because of all the things that have happened over the years, it’s been challenging to say the least,” Sister Cawley remarked. However, she noted that “these things were in motion before I came, and they seemed to happen as I was the leader of the parish.” She said she has emphasized having open communication with parishioners, keeping them abreast of developments as they were unfolding.
There have also been many positives during her tenure. For instance, she observed that the number of young families at All Saints is picking back up after years of population declines due to downsizing at Corning Inc. Sister Cawley also praised the parish’s many thriving programs, such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a highly active youth ministry, a strong focus on assisting the poor, and a recently begun singles ministry.
“The staff has been excellent. They have a vision that helps them to see things that should be incorporated or we should at least try,” Sister Cawley said, adding that “the parish couldn’t operate without the generous service of our many volunteers.”
“I’ve admired this community because it has taken its future into its own hands,” she remarked.