Waverly church building turns 100 - Catholic Courier
Vacation Bible school students entertain parishioners following a Massfor the feast day of St. James July 25 at St. James Church in Waverly. Vacation Bible school students entertain parishioners following a Massfor the feast day of St. James July 25 at St. James Church in Waverly.

Waverly church building turns 100

Virginia "Ginger" Schliecker is following in her mother’s footsteps as Altar and Rosary Society president and strives "to work on as many committees as I can."

Sue Maloney, also an Altar and Rosary Society member, began a funeral luncheon program many years ago with her husband, Charlie.

Jack Hedrick regularly leads the rosary prior to the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass, fills various liturgical roles and is involved with the recently reorganized local Knights of Columbus council.

All three have belonged to St. James Church in Waverly either their entire lives or close to it. In addition, each has dedicated a restored stained-glass window to deceased family members who also were loyal members of St. James — a testament to the parish’s vitality throughout its 160 years.

This year St. James, located in southern Tioga County on the Pennsylvania border, is noting a key milestone in its proud history: the 100th anniversary of its church building. Centennial festivities began July 25, the Feast of St. James, in the form of an early evening Mass and picnic supper at the church. The event, which drew well over 100 people, was celebrated by Father William Moorby, pastor, with Father Brian Carpenter, the current parochial vicar, and Father John DeSocio, former parochial vicar, concelebrating. Another 100th-birthday celebration is on tap for Sunday, Nov. 17, when the church will be rededicated during a prayer service set to begin at 3 p.m.

St. James is part of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes along with St. Patrick, Owego; St. John the Evangelist, Newark Valley; and St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin. St. James was created in 1853 due to an influx of Catholics to the area shortly after completion of the Erie Railroad. A new church went up in 1871 to replace the original structure, and St. James was incorporated as a separate parish in 1881 after having been founded as part of the Owego Mission.

In 1912 a fire completely destroyed the church building. Work quickly began on a new structure and the current church, located at 503 Clark St., was dedicated Nov. 23, 1913.

St. James has received a major upgrade as of late, with all 50 of its stained-glass windows having been refurbished over the past several years and new stained glass being installed over an entrance. Laura Hoppe, a longtime St. James parishioner who was involved in that project as well as the July 25 centennial kick-off, noted that the restorations were financed largely by parishioner donations via window sponsorships such as those of Schliecker, Maloney and Hedrick.

Yet support for St. James has been much more than monetary, as demonstrated by Hedrick’s various volunteer roles. He noted that he especially enjoys bringing Communion to people who are homebound and in nursing facilities, and he even recently became an altar server — "it took me 60 years," he remarked.

"I’ve grown more since I have retired. I had to keep busy doing things, and the church seemed to be the place to do it. We’ve got a good group there," said Hedrick, who also recently oversaw a project to rejuvenate St. James Cemetery.

Maloney, in addition to her ongoing efforts with the bereavement ministry, visits Father Thomas Watts — the retired pastor of St. James and a native of the parish — "just about every day" at his nearby home. Yet Maloney said she’s far from alone in her loyalty to St. James.

"We have a very active church with a lot going on, and two good priests," she said of Fathers Moorby and Carpenter.

Maloney observed that much of St. James’ activity comes in the form of parish social gatherings, as the July 25 picnic would indicate. That was followed three days later by a "Sundae Sunday" following 9 a.m. Mass during which attendees got to make their own ice cream sundaes.

"St. James Church, we always eat," Maloney remarked.

Whatever the occasion or cause, she’s more than happy to support her parish.

"It’s just been, really, in the center of my life. I love St. James Church because it’s been my life," stated Maloney, whose aunt, Liz Alamo, 98, still attends Mass at St. James.

A similar sense of dedication is shared by Schliecker, who is serving her third stint as head of the Altar and Rosary Society.

"Priests have come and deacons have come, but it’s still my church. It’s a beautiful church and I feel comfortable there because I know God is there," she said. "I love it dearly and feel at peace when I’m in it."


Tags: Churches, Tioga County News
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