On Sunday November 1, 2015, St. Michael the Archangel Church in Pittston, Pennsylvania, celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the church with Bishop Kurt Burnette as the main celebrant. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was held at 3 pm with parishioners, families and friends enthusiastically uniting their voices to God in thanksgiving for this milestone event.
The concelebrants for the Liturgy were: Father James Hayer, Protosyncellus, St. Thomas the Apostle, Rahway, NJ; Father Gary Mensinger, pastor of both St. Michaels, Pittston and St. Nicholas, Swoyersville; Father Michael Salnicky, St. Nicholas Chapel, Pocono Summit and St. Nicholas Shrine, Cresco, Pa; Father John Sekellick, Holy Ghost, Jessup and St. John the Baptist, Forest City, Pa.; Father John Cigan, a St. Michaels parish vocation, St. Mary’s, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Father Joseph Bertha, former St. Michaels pastor, St. John the Baptist, Trumbull, CT; and Father Leonard A. Martin, St. John the Baptist and St. Mary’s, Scranton. Serving as Master of Ceremony was Father Edward Higgins, Holy Ghost and Holy Trinity parishes, Philadelphia. Pa. Deacons at the Liturgy were Deacon Larry Worlinsky of St. Michaels and St. Nicholas; and Deacon Basil Soroka, St. Mary’s, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Area cantors for the Liturgy were led by Cantor Raymond Mastroberte, St. Mary’s, Wilkes-Barre. The faithful responded with such joy-filled responses that it was impossible not to get caught up in the beauty of it all. Sadly missed in the celebration was St. Michaels own cantor, Paul Dzurisin (hospitalized at the time). Many prayers were with Paul as he had a successful recovery. Former altar servers returned for the Liturgy and their participation was so gratefully appreciated. It was very much like a family reunion seeing all who came “home” on this special day.
A procession into the church was led by the color guard of the Pittston area Knights of Columbus, Chapter 372. Several area clergy were present in addition to those con-celebrating.
Bishop Kurt began his homily explaining the symbolism of the Sunday Gospel; he then described some of the issues the people in Europe had faced under persecution and how things have changed so drastically today. The challenge he made to all present was to pray for vocations and he offered a St. Therese Novena prayer card for use in that request. Bishop Kurt cited his own personal journey to the priesthood and examples of the efficacy of the power of prayer. Finally, Bishop described his participation in the Synod on the Family in Rome where he had an opportunity to mingle with Bishops from all over the world. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, all the faithful were invited to receive the novena prayer card and a medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe blessed by Pope Francis, both gifts from Bishop Kurt.
With the conclusion of the Liturgy, everyone proceeded to a banquet dinner held at the Via Appia Reception Hall, Taylor. Piano music provided a relaxing ambience and a delicious full course meal awaited guests. Bishop Kurt made the opening remarks after receiving a gift of flowers presented by the children and parish ECF instructor, Darby O’Neill. He followed with blessing of the food.
Additional initial remarks were made by Father John Cigan and Father Michael Salnicky who appropriately invoked the words of the hymn to St. Michael. Speaking during the dinner, Father James Hayer challenged everyone to engage in continued parish involvement, not only of St. Michaels church in asking “what comes next after 100 years”, but to larger view of all united in the eparchy of Passaic. Finally, acknowledgements were made by Father Gary Mensinger to all the committee members who worked so hard over the past ten months to make this day a success in every aspect of planning, preparation and fundraising — a huge task done by a small group of parishioners. The final benediction was offered by Father Sekellick.
Reflecting back to 1913, the founders of St. Michael Church would not have imagined the results of their work to form a parish. But a vision they had. They began with a desire, with active determination and resolve, and with unrelenting faith and trust. Today, St. Michaels owes much to them, but also to the many pastors and parishioners who have served over the years. Our challenge is to follow their example in our own lives and the life of St. Michaels. We offer our prayers of gratitude to those who preceded us, and ask God to continue to bless all the pastors, parish family, and visitors of St. Michael the Archangel into the future.
God Grant St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Many Blessed Years!