History of our Church Part 2
The Dream gets a Mission
The Dream Takes Shape
A New Decade - The Millennium
A Milestone Anniversary of the Dream's Reality
An Anniversary Message from the Pastor
History of the Parish Continues
The Dream Gets a Mission
1984-1988 – On All Saints Day, November 1, 1986, an event took place in Oak Orchard that two years hence would drastically affect the future of St. Michael the Archangel in Georgetown. The 1986 date is when the Dedication Mass was held at Mary Mother of Peace.
According to Mary Mother of Peace historical records, planning for that facility had begun several years earlier. Thanks to several visionary parishioners at St. Edmond’s Parish in Rehoboth Beach, along with the pastor, the Rev. Bruce Byrolly, and diocesan officials, plans were set in motion to build a mission church in the Long Neck-Oak Orchard area, even though there were only about 100 Catholic families living there at the time.
The late Most Rev. Thomas J. Mardaga, gave the initial approval, and about 12 acres were purchased where Mary Mother of Peace stands today. Arrangements were made to celebrate Mass at the Oak Orchard Community Church, until the church could be built, thanks to the generosity of then Pastor Silas Dukes.
The first Mass at the Community Church was celebrated on May 26, 1984. Mass would continue to be held there for another two years. Unfortunately, Bishop Mardaga would not live to see the new church progress. He passed away only two days later, on May 28.
But make progress the new church did. Current Mary Mother of Peace parishioner George Canavan chaired the Building Committee. The structure was built as an all-purpose building, to be used initially as a church, and then converted to a hall, when a more conventional church could be constructed.
Presider and homilist at the Mass of dedication was the new bishop, Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee, now in Rhode Island. Serving as Master of Ceremonies was Msgr. Joseph Rebman, who had guided the St. Edmond’s parishioners through land acquisition and construction.
However, the life of Mary Mother of Peace as a mission of St. Edmond’s was to be short. On Sunday, May 22, at a 4:00 p.m. service of evening prayer, the union of Mary Mother of Peace with St. Michael the Archangel took place. The headline in the St. Edmond’s bulletin announcing the shift read, “OUR DAUGHTER IS TO BE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE.” Representing Bishop Mulvee as presider was the late Rev. John J. Masterson, Dean, who died on June 19, 2000.
Homilist at the May 22 service was the Rev. Anthony F. Greco, then pastor of St. Michael’s, now retired, past- pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Secretary, MD.
1988-1989 – After Mary Mother of Peace formally became a mission of St. Michael the Archangel on May 22, 1988, the parish was changed profoundly. The demographic profile of parishioners in the Oak Orchard area was different from those in Georgetown. In Oak Orchard, the influx of retirees relocating to the area already had begun, and others were coming on weekends most of the year, with plans for eventual retirement.
Soon the registration at the mission church grew to exceed that of St. Michael’s. It became incumbent on the pastor, the Rev. Anthony Greco, and the Pastoral Council, to improve the amenities at the multi-purpose building which was Mary Mother of Peace, and to add new services and ministries at both churches.
Efforts in 1988 brought then Bro. Marcus, OSF, from New York City to St. Michael’s to grow the music ministry at both churches. (Bro. Marcus was later ordained as the Rev. Michael Casari.) Following the purchase of a new piano at Mary Mother of Peace, rehearsals for the new choir were transferred there.
Also new to the parish this year was the arrival of the parish’s first Permanent Deacon. The parish bulletin of July 10, 1988 officially welcomed the Rev. Mr. Joseph Baker (now retired). One of Deacon Baker’s important contributions, along with his wife, the late Mae Baker, was to begin a prayer group on Monday evenings at Mary Mother of Peace. There was recitation of the rosary, followed by a Communion Service, and then the prayer group meeting. The rosary recitation still continues today at 6:30 p.m., followed by the prayer group, which is now called Peaceful Dove, and is led by parishioners Barry and Laraine Kasprow.
Another ministry introduced to the parish this year was the R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), which at the time was newly approved by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The program is for adults who wish to become members of the Catholic Church, and for baptized Catholics who have not received the sacraments of the Eucharist and/or Confirmation. Today the ministry is led by parishioners Donald and Carol Clark.
The parish closed out the decade of the 1980’s by continuing its emphasis on growing ministries, and improving amenities at both churches. A new prayer line ministry was organized early in 1989 by parishioners Pat and Hugh Ciabattone. This ministry continues today, and is led by parishioner Anne-Marie Juliano.
On Mother’s Day, May 14, 1989, the Blessed Mother statue in the circle at Mary Mother of Peace was dedicated. The late auxiliary bishop, Most Rev. James C. Burke, officiated at the blessing, which included a service of Benediction, and a crowning by the year’s first communicants.
That fall, the first planting of new trees and shrubs was completed at both churches. This was the result of considerable parishioner donations, and more plantings would follow. The work was done by residents of Stockley Center.
1990’s – The decade of the 90’s was marked by the beginning of a continuing termite problem at St. Michael the Archangel, rapid growth of the Hispanic population in Georgetown, general population growth in the Oak Orchard-Long Neck area, and physical improvements to both churches.
In 1990, it was discovered that termites had infested the support beams at St. Michael’s. Due to the steel strike in1956, wooden beams instead of steel had been used in the church’s construction. The repairs would necessitate the church’s closing until 1994, with Mass being said in the hall for the duration.
Meanwhile, the Hispanic population in Georgetown continued to grow. By the end of the decade, about 500 Spanish-speaking parishioners, mostly from Guatemala and Mexico, would be worshiping at St. Michael’s.
The Carmelite Sisters of Charity Verduna (Spain) made a commitment to minister to the population. They established La Esperanza, a social service agency. Sr. Maria Mairlot (now Pastoral Associate) began working with Spanish-speaking parishioners, especially in faith formation and music. A Guatemalan religious community of men, The Fraternity of Mary, was contracted by the Diocese of Wilmington to serve the Hispanic population in the diocese’s southern regions.
As a result of that contract, Fr. Ruben Soto y Soto was named associate pastor at St. Michael’s in 1999. After his installation as Bishop of Wilmington on January 23, 1996, Most Rev. Michael A. Saltarelli, who died in September 2009, formed the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, now directed by Fr. Chris Posch, OFM.
Following are highlights from parish bulletins dating from the early 1990’s.
1990-1991 – As a beginning effort to reach out to the rapidly growing Hispanic community, a Mass was said in Spanish for the first time at St. Michael the Archangel on January 14, 1990. Later that year, then pastor, the Rev. Anthony Greco began a financial appeal to parishioners to raise funds for facility improvements at Mary Mother of Peace, especially for a new sanctuary floor.
In 1991, a landowner nearby to Mary Mother of Peace made a donation of pine seedlings, if they could be removed from his property. Parishioner Paul Hewett coordinated the transplantation effort.
Fr. Greco continued his efforts to make improvements at Mary Mother of Peace, adding to the list a new sign, fixtures, tabernacle, and statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Thanks to parishioner volunteer efforts, the sanctuary floor was constructed in July by Donald Delcher, Michael DellaCamera, Richard Fuller, John Hausmann, Paul Hewett and Fred Schmidt.
In a July 24th letter to parishioners, Fr. Greco announced the termite infestation at St. Michael the Archangel. He said the repair work would include a roof replacement, and that new construction would be done to add bathrooms; install air conditioning; and build two additional wings for increased seating capacity. Mass was to be said in the hall for the duration of construction.
At this time, the parish also lost its music director, as Bro. Marcus left to pursue ordination to the priesthood. He is now the Rev. Michael Casari.
The Dream Takes Shape
The years of 1992-93 were ones of reconstruction of St. Michael the Archangel, and smaller improvements at Mary Mother of Peace.
1992 – In February, then-pastor, the Rev. Anthony F. Greco, placed on display at Mary Mother of Peace designs for 14 stained glass windows, depicting scenes from the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. He sought parishioner sponsorship for the cost of $1,500 each, with a name plaque to hang in the vestibule. The windows were ordered in April.
In August, reconstruction and funding plans for St. Michael the Archangel moved ahead significantly. A 50/50 raffle was introduced as an initial fundraiser, with tickets at $10 each, maximum 1,000 tickets to be sold.
In September, then-bishop Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee approved reconstruction plans, which would change the church’s shape into the form of a cross. Fr. Greco sought parishioner assistance for the addition of two new stained glass windows for each of the new side chapels. They would be depictions of St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Benedict, and St. Rose of Lima, at the cost of $4,500 each.
On September 27th, a special Mass was held at Mary Mother of Peace to honor the late Most Rev. James C. Burke, on his 25th Anniversary as a bishop.
The bulletin of this date contained a cost projection of $300,000 for reconstruction work at St. Michael’s to include: a new roof; air-conditioning system; steel support; addition of transepts on both sides and bricking; pew repairs; professional fees; new stained glass; and carpeting, painting and tiling.
On October 10, the parish-wide capital campaign kicked off, with an initial pledge of $186,732. In November, it was announced that the remaining loan of $70,000 for Mary Mother of Peace had been paid off, from operating funds.
1993 – By the end of February 1993, capital campaign results had reached $220,000. In March, the diocese gave permission for St. Michael’s construction to begin.
In April, a new Blessed Mother statue was added to the circle at Mary Mother of Peace, and plans were being made for a new flagpole to be dedicated in honor of all veterans.
Preliminary site work at St. Michael’s began in May, along with the addition of a Reconciliation room, a small meeting room and improved sacristy at Mary Mother of Peace.
By October, it was projected that reconstruction at St. Michael’s would be completed by early 1994. New restrooms and a new organ had been added to the project.
Throughout 1993, various improvements were made to the hall at Mary Mother of Peace, using funds from the church’s second collection.
In December, it was announced that the parish would be forming a new Knights of Columbus Council.
In 1994, parishioners at St. Michael the Archangel would be able to return to worship in their church at long last, and councils for the Knights of Columbus would be formed. By 1997, the parish would welcome a new pastor. Here are some highlights from the remaining decade of the 1990’s.
1994-99 – The bulletin of January 2, 1994 contained a message from then-pastor, the Rev. Anthony F. Greco, that “very little” work remained to be done to the exterior of St. Michael the Archangel, and that interior work could begin. That work would continue until it was announced that the first weekend Masses would be held in the newly renovated church on March 19-20, culminating a four-year wait. Those Masses were preceded by a week-long retreat of daily devotions in the church, beginning on March 14.
Within the same time frame, a new Knights of Columbus Council was formed for the parish. It would become known, as it is today, as the Bishop James C. Burke Council 11285.
In June, organizational work for a new council of the Columbiettes would begin, with the first meetings held in August. A First Degree initiation for the new council would be held on October 30.
The month of June also was one of sadness and difficulty for the growing parish. Most Rev. James C. Burke died on May 28, and Fr. Greco participated in several of the funeral Masses the following week.
In the bulletin of June 12, Fr. Greco made an appeal for increased offertory support, due to the parish’s mounting financial difficulties.
A momentous occasion was celebrated on Wednesday, September 28, when Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee, then Bishop of Wilmington, came to preside at the official blessing of the new St. Michael the Archangel, on the vigil of the Feast of St. Michael.
In December, Fr. Greco made an appeal to parishioners to replace the organ at Mary Mother of Peace, at a cost of $22,000.
On June 18, 1997, the parish would welcome a new pastor, the Rev. William F. Graney. Previously, Fr. Graney had served at St. Paul’s in Wilmington, where the congregation was mostly Hispanic of Puerto Rican descent. He also served at St. Mary Magdalen in Wilmington for 14 years.
It was imperative during Fr. Graney’s tenure to resolve the parish’s serious financial instability. To this end, the original plan to build a more traditional church at Mary Mother of Peace, and to convert the existing structure into a hall, was deferred. However, Fr. Graney did add another weekend Mass there, and initiate the first daily Mass.
On October 14, 1998, the Rev. Daniel J. McCloskey, Jr. (now pastor) was appointed Associate Pastor to assist Fr. Graney. A native of the Bronx, New York, Fr. McCloskey had been ordained for the Diocese of Wilmington in 1983, and had served in several Wilmington-area parishes.
By the end of 1999, the parish’s commercial loan had been paid in full. However, the discovery of a heart condition would cause Fr. Graney to resign as pastor.
A New Decade - The Millennium
As a new millennium began in the year 2000, the parish of St. Michael the Archangel/Mary Mother of Peace also was making its transition into the modern era. In addition to a change in pastor, the parish would begin to assess the impact of changes which had occurred in the 1990’s, and prepare itself for the explosive growth that was to come.
2000-2001 – The transition from former pastor, the Rev. William F. Graney, to current pastor, the Rev. Daniel J. McCloskey, Jr., was made official on June 4, 2000. While it was imperative during Fr. Graney’s pastorate to stabilize parish finances, it would become Fr. Dan’s job to build on that new and still tentative stability, and to prepare for future growth. The hallmarks of his first six-year term as pastor would be to: strengthen the Finance Council and grow the parish’s financial reserves; maintain and improve physical facilities at both campuses; upgrade office personnel and equipment; and initiate long-term planning. The financial effort received a boost when the Catholic Foundation forgave the $71,000 debt still owed for the land at Mary Mother of Peace.
On July 23, 2000, Fr. Dan published in the bulletin the first of a series of letters to parishioners. He announced that repairs were again being made at St. Michael the Archangel, due to another termite infestation, and that plans were in progress to paint the interior of Mary Mother of Peace, and to install a new organ.
The Pastoral Council and Finance Council were meeting regularly, chaired by Dolores Hogan and Joseph Kratz respectively. Other appointments to various ministries and standing committees were announced, and it was also noted that Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli had accepted parishioner David McDowell to begin training for ordination as a permanent deacon, the first from the parish.
The official farewells to Fr. Graney took place at each church on the weekend of September 9-10. In the bulletin of August 27, Fr. Dan acknowledged the work Fr. Graney had done to stabilize parish finances. “Fr. Bill took us from the edge of fiscal uncertainty to a sound financial platform,” he said.
Maintaining and growing that stability would become a mainstay of Fr. Dan’s first term as pastor. The annual parish financial statement published on October 29 showed that the total remaining debt of over $200,000 for renovations at St. Michael’s had been paid off in fiscal 2000.
In December, the parish saw the formation of a new musical group, due to the unexpected resignation of the music director, Thomas Sullivan. Led by Karol Powers-Case, Joseph Powers and Brent Parsons, the musicians and singers kept themselves together, and in time emerged as the Folk Group which serves the music ministry at Mary Mother of Peace. The group now is led by Barry Kasprow.
The Folk Group improved and Karol, Joe, Brent and a few singers decided to form another group based at St. Michael the Archangel. Today they provide music regularly for the former 9:00 a.m., now 8:30, Mass.
On January 28, 2001, it was announced that the Rev. Edmund Coppinger and the Rev. Cesar A. Gomez would join the parish as associate pastors. Fr. Ed had been associate pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul in Easton, MD, and Fr. Cesar was a missionary priest whose previous assignment had been in Brooklyn, NY. (Fr. Ed has since retired, and now lives in California.)
2001-2003 – In July 2001, another letter from Fr. Dan updated parishioners about work to be done in both churches. A further termite problem at St. Michael’s had required repairs in the nave of the church, and new climate controls were installed in the church and hall.
Rapid growth at Mary Mother of Peace required modifications to the still incomplete interior. To increase seating capacity, the altar would be reduced; and carpet would be installed to improve appearance and acoustics. That work would be done by parish volunteers led by Gil Hartman and John Hausmann, and would include a crew of inmates from the Sussex Correctional Institution, as part of their preparation to become productive community members again.
Study of the area’s population growth projections had begun, showing that a 44% increase over the next 20 years was expected for the Mary Mother of Peace service area, along with 24% for St. Michael’s. Since the erection of Mary Mother of Peace in 1986, current population already had increased by 400%, not including part-time and seasonal residents.
Fr. Dan also noted that he had increased operations at the parish office in Georgetown to 5 days, and added one hour more per day.
On September 9, the Knights of Columbus, aided by the Columbiettes, hosted the first Parish Picnic at Mary Mother of Peace to recognize Fr. Dan’s first year as pastor, and to thank the many volunteers who had worked diligently throughout the year. The picnic still continues, and was held on September 16, 2001.
In September, a new service to parishioners would be organized with the help of medical professionals from Beebe Medical Center. Today the Health Ministry, led by Mary Ann Scott, sponsors educational programs and periodic blood pressure screenings throughout the year.
On December 16, Fr. Dan announced that long-range planning for the parish’s future had taken an important step forward. A consultant from Hallahan Associates in Baltimore, MD had been hired to work with a planning team led by Joan Ilgenfritz. The group had 14 members, representing both churches, and all three congregations.
Fr. Dan’s next letter of February 20, 2002 announced initial preparation for the parish’s participation in the diocesan Bringing the Vision to Life capital campaign. This fundraising venture would be a 60-40 split, with 60% of proceeds being retained for parish needs, and 40% going to the diocese, especially for capital needs for schools.
Much planning took place that spring, and every ministry and organization in the parish was involved in the promotional and organizational effort. The parish-wide committee was chaired by Joan Ilgenfritz. The target was set at $542,400. Capital needs were identified for both churches.
At St. Michael’s, the needs listed included: replacement of the rectory roof, kitchen floor and fence; parking lot repavement and lighting upgrade; window replacement in the hall; heating circulators for the church; and a new roof for the King Street garage. At Mary Mother of Peace, the funds were to be used for: environmental site studies in preparation for future expansion; sidewalk and curbing repairs; upgrading of the sprinkler and fire alarm systems; parking lot repavement and lighting improvements; fencing; and parking improvements and a new roof at the Mt. Joy Road residence.
Ultimately, 95% of the goal was pledged, for a total of $501,898, which included pledges from over 500 parishioners. Several years later, the actual collection was reduced to just over $462,000, due to unfulfilled pledges for various reasons.
Nevertheless, the annual financial statement published on January 12, 2003 showed that the parish was debt-free, and had a small reserve fund.
The next letter from Fr. Dan noted that the parish had increased by 75 families since January and was comprised of over 1,000 households. The Mary Mother of Peace area was expected to grow by over 2,700 new housing units during the next three years.
Concurrently in the beginning years of Fr. Dan’s first term as pastor, the parish experienced growth in its ministries, as well as its parishioner base. Along with strengthening of the Pastoral and Finance councils, came emphasis on faith formation, ministry to the sick, mentoring to local school children, prison ministry and others.
The coordination of religious education for children passed from Peg Durnan to Natalie Blakely, who is assisted by Sr. Maria and beginning this year, Joseph Powers, now Jennifer Blakely at St. Michael’s. Leadership for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) transferred from Karol Powers-Case to Donald and Carol Clark.
Deacons of the parish also saw increased activity. In addition to the Peaceful Dove Prayer Group, Deacon Joseph Baker was active in ministry to inmates at Sussex Correctional Institution, and residents at the Green Valley nursing facility in Millsboro. Deacon Donald Carroll, now retired, gave baptism classes and assisted the funeral ministry.
In 2003, initial conversations began with Bishop Michael A. Satarelli about possibly making Mary Mother of Peace a separate parish. Those considerations are continuing today, although no timetable has as yet been set.
2003-2004 – On July 13, the parish hosted a farewell party for Fr. Ed Coppinger, who had been given permission by the bishop to retire. He would relocate to California in the fall. At this time, Fr. Dan hired Carol Lebedz as Business Manager for the parish.
In his message of February 1, 2004, Fr. Dan noted the continued increase in parishioners at both churches. The annual financial statement showed a small, but growing reserve fund, and the parish had successfully completed a diocesan audit.
In March, bulletin notices announced that collection of St. Michael the Archangel memorabilia would begin, in anticipation of the 50th Anniversary celebration that would be held on June 10, 2007.
On April 18, the Peaceful Dove Prayer Group hosted a Life in the Spirit Seminar, which ran through June 6 at Mary Mother of Peace, a first for the parish.
In May, Sr. Maria and Irene Kowalski were acknowledged for their leadership of the knitted baby blanket project, which still benefits the Hispanic congregation today.
On June 15, the Rev. Robert Burk was welcomed to the parish as associate pastor. On August 1, Bishop Saltarelli visited to preside at the 9:00 a.m. Mass at St. Michael’s; a welcoming reception followed.
A September 26 reception at Mary Mother of Peace honored newly-ordained Deacon David McDowell, the first from our parish to complete the four-year training.
Planning for our parish’s growth gained strong momentum during the last two years. Here are some of the highlights.
2005-2006 – On April 3, the Carmelite Sisters who serve our parish were congratulated on the 50th Anniversary of their Order.
On July 1, Fr. Dan took another planning step by adding Joan Ilgenfritz to the parish staff as Development/Communications Director. Later that month Mary Mother of Peace parishioner Robert Maegerle was named to the Diocesan Building Committee, the first from our parish to serve in that capacity.
In October, Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli introduced a new Diocese of Wilmington Order of Merit Award, to honor parishioners, upon recommendation of their pastors, for outstanding contributions to their parish and diocese. Our parish’s first recipients were: Elaine Frey and Lucas Perez from St. Michael’s; and Lewis Conn and Joan Ilgenfritz from Mary Mother of Peace.
On October 30, a special bilingual prayer and healing service was held at St. Michael’s to aid hurricane victims in Guatemala. A special collection gained nearly $7,300 for their benefit.
During Advent season, newly-ordained Deacon David McDowell organized a series of special services, which included family nights, music and Stations of the Nativity. The series ended with the Parish Penance Service, conducted by Fr. Dan.
On December 11, the first issue of Our Message, a parish newsletter to be published quarterly, was introduced. In his message, Fr. Dan reported that the diocese has given approval for formal planning for the expansion of parish facilities to begin, with a Steering Committee to be named in 2006.
On February 12, 2006, the current design of the parish bulletin was introduced. It featured the new parish logo, a graphic depicting three congregations, worshiping in two churches, and living one faith. The bulletin is composed by Alice McCauley.
The parish newsletter, published on March 12, announced Fr. Dan’s initial appointments to the Steering Committee: Natalie Blakely, Donald Clark, Edna Gentile, Robert Lamontague, Robert Maegerle, William Pfaff, Joseph Powers, Tina Sonzogni, with Joan Ilgenfritz as coordinator. Fr. Dan later added: Mario Agapito, Frances O’Malley, and Andre Velasquez. This issue also included a survey asking English-speaking parishioners for information about their beliefs; needs for each church; and willingness to support a capital campaign.
The survey results were published in the newsletter of June 11. Overall, 22% (a high percentage) of the parish responded, providing the Steering Committee with demographic profiles, perceptions about faith, involvements in the parish, etc. Parishioners at St. Michael’s did not see a great need for facility expansion there, except for a suitable kitchen in the hall. A total of 41% said they were willing to support a capital campaign; 21% undecided.
At Mary Mother of Peace, parishioners identified the need for a larger church and the addition of a hall, with a suitable kitchen. A total of 67% said they were willing to support a capital campaign, with 17% undecided.
In the bulletin of August 13, Fr. Dan thanked Joseph Powell for restoring the Blessed Mother statue in the circle at Mary Mother of Peace, and the committee which maintains the landscaping there.
On October 1, the Wilmington Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society honored Mary Mother of Peace parishioner Constance Blaha with the Blessed Frederic Ozanam Award for Outstanding Service. On October 8, Joseph Kratz from St. Michael’s and Paul Hewitt from Mary Mother of Peace received the diocesan Order of Merit.
On December 17, the newsletter announced Fr. Dan’s appointments to the official planning committee for St. Michael’s 50th Anniversary celebration: Cynthia Baker, Claire Croll, Barbara DeBastiani, Joseph Forester, Elaine Frey, and Robert and Jean Lamontagne.
This issue also reported that the Steering Committee had completed its work by submitting to the diocese a request to expand facilities at both churches: Phase I – new parish center at Mary Mother of Peace; Phase II – enlargement of the church at Mary Mother of Peace; Phase III – improvement of the hall at St. Michael’s.
With this publication of highlights from the current year of our parish life, this column nears its conclusion. Two forthcoming issues will feature the 50th Anniversary messages from Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, and our pastor, Fr. Dan McCloskey, which were first published in the special booklet distributed at the Anniversary Mass on June 10.
A Milestone Anniversary of the Dream's Reality
2007 – The bulletin of January 7 featured the introduction of this column; the anniversary logo which appears on the front cover, and details about the Anniversary Mass to be celebrated on June 10.
On March 24, the Columbiettes hosted a Women’s Day of Recollection at Mary Mother of Peace. It was a sold-out event with about 120 women attending from throughout Sussex County, Milford and Dover. Deacon David McDowell was the retreat’s leader.
On April 22, the diocese began its Solidarity Week with the Diocese of San Marcos, Guatemala, with an opening activity at St. Michael the Archangel. An afternoon entitled, Shared Experiences, Enriched Lives, included prayer, story-telling and fiesta with men, women and children from San Marcos.
The bulletin of April 29, announced that Mary Mother of Peace parishioner George Canavan had been honored by the St. Vincent de Paul Society for his 40 years of service. George chaired the building committee which built Mary Mother of Peace. Sadly, he passed away a few weeks later.
In May, parishioner Mirna Celeste Roblero was named Volunteer of the Year for St. Michael the Archangel, at the Catholic Youth Ministry 75th Anniversary gathering.
On June 10, 2007, the big day arrived, and about 650 attended as the parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary, with a special bilingual Mass at St. Michael the Archangel. The presider was Most Rev. Michael A. Saltarelli, and the Rev. David Conway gave the homily, sharing his memories of the early days of Catholicism in Georgetown. Music was proved by the combined English and Spanish-speaking choirs of St. Michael’s. Members of the Color Corps of the Fr. Capodanno Assembly, Knights of Columbus, which meets at St. Michael’s, provided the Honor Guard for the Processional at the church’s entrance. A reception under tents on the church grounds followed. Volunteers came from all three congregations.
The bulletin of June 17 officially welcomed Deacon Philip W. Ricker to the parish. His appointment by the bishop is for a three-year term. Earlier this year, Deacon Joseph Baker had retired, for the second time.
It was reported in the July issue of the parish newsletter that conceptual approval has been received from the diocese for the three-phased facilities expansion plan submitted by the Steering Committee the previous fall. Instruction from the diocese is to concentrate first on the parish center at Mary Mother of Peace. More detailed plans for the center, and for relocation of the east-side parking lot where the new building will be located, currently are in progress, and will be submitted to the diocese soon.
This column concluded with publication of the special anniversary message from our pastor, the Rev. Daniel J. McCloskey, Jr.
50th Anniversary of St. Michael the Archangel
2007 Honoring Our Past . . . Building Our Future
An Anniversary Message from the Pastor
First published in the booklet distributed at the Sunday, June 10 Anniversary Mass, Fr. Dan’s message is as follows:
In 1987 I was eight years old and living in the “beautiful” part of God’s creation known as the Bronx – urban and overwhelming, with a rich mixture of various ethnic and religious cultures living side by side and working to make a better life. At that time I knew my everyday friends and relatives, whom we visited on most Sundays to share a meal, school and of course church.
Our parish expressed the customs and Catholic traditions of first and second-generation southern Italian immigrants mostly from Naples and Sicily. The rest of the parish consisted of working-class folks, whose origins were from northern Europe, and the densely overcrowded neighborhoods of the City of New York. What made our neighborhood work for the greater good were the positive, creative influences of the faith communities: the churches and synagogues which were devoted not only to our spiritual needs, but also to our social educational and economic well being.
The model for my ministry always has been touched by these early experiences. Not too surprising to me is that 50 years later, I find myself doing what others had taught me to do: to take our collective diversity and backgrounds of Catholic faith, and from them continue to build up God’s kingdom here on earth; to take the teachings of Jesus the Christ as proclaimed in the scriptures, and the traditions and teaching of our Catholic faith, and to profess them not only in words, but in actions.
For 50 years, St. Michael’s has grown with the demands of the times. Our witness to our faith is truly Catholic and universal. The faces of our members are a reminder of the face of Christ.
It is Jesus who challenges us now as in the past. The disciples asked Jesus this question: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, or away from home, or naked or ill or in prison and not attend to you in your needs?” Jesus answered them, “I assure you, as often as you neglected to do it for one of the least ones, you neglected to do it to me.”
I believe the past has given us a great example of our faith, and a window to our future. Those who founded and supported this parish for 50 years can be assured of our gratitude. May those who come to join us now and in the future give thanks to God, because of our continued efforts to fulfill the dreams of those who have gone before us.
History of the Parish Continues
On August 1, 2007, Fr. Dan hired Tina Sonzogni as Receptionist for the parish.
In October 2007, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Dolores Besche from St. Michael’s; and George Canavan from Mary Mother of Peace.
2008 – On January 16, Deacon Jose Rodriguez-Trejo was officially welcomed to the parish. His appointment by the bishop is for a three-year term.
Later the same year, Fr. Bob Burk, MSA was appointed Administrator of St. Michael the Archangel Parish while Fr. Dan McCloskey was on medical leave.
In October 2008, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Claire Croll from St. Michael’s; and Jackie Bollack from Mary Mother of Peace.
On December 4, Deacon Martin Barrett was officially welcomed to the parish. His appointment by the bishop is for a three-year term.
2009 – In January Martin Staub began to direct the parish's music programs.
In October 2009, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Miguelina Cruz from St. Michael’s; and Natalie Blakely from Mary Mother of Peace.
2010 and Beyond- The economy took its toll on the church with damage from flooding. The staff changed in the office due to retirement of Joan Ilgenfritz. We also began the church review for the future and current needs.
On May 18, 2010, the parish hired Jean Comastro to assist in the Finance office.
On May 30, 2010, Sr. Maria Mairlot from St. Michael’s was awarded a Papal Honor from Pope Benedict XVI for service to the church. Receiving the Benemerenti Medal (“good merit”) is a distinction given to a very select group of religious and lay people in the Diocese approved by Bishop Saltarelli before his death.
In October 2010, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Robert and Jean Lamontagne from St. Michael’s; and Gilbert Hartman from Mary Mother of Peace.
On June 30, 2011, Fr. Daniel McCloskey retired from service as Pastor and Fr. Bob Burk assumed the duties of the Pastor. Fr. Jim Downs became the associate Pastor. Fr. Dan died October 13, 2011.
In October 2011, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Maureen Gorman and Carl Hartz (posthumous) from St. Michael the Archangel/Mary Mother of Peace.
October 13, 2011, the retired Pastor of the parish, Fr. Daniel J. McCloskey, Jr. went to his eternal resting place.
A Memorial Prayer Garden was added to the property of Mary Mother of Peace in November, 2011. The planting and a portion of the hardscape phase of the Memorial Prayer Garden was funded by the generous donations of the members of the parish. Their support has helped make the Memorial Prayer Garden a success.
2012 - Rev. David J. Conway died Thursday, March 15, 2012. Fr. Conway was a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and was staying in Georgetown, DE. His family was very instrumental in the creation of the Catholic church in Georgetown. See 1920.
He celebrated Mass at St. Michael the Archangel and Mary Mother of Peace when needed. He was the beloved son of the late William A. and Agnes McStacy Conway.
In October 2012, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Don & Carol Clark and Tom Ryan from St. Michael the Archangel/Mary Mother of Peace.
On October 1, Deacon Kenny Hall was officially welcomed to the parish. His appointment by the bishop is for a three-year term.
In September, the Deacons began facilitating the RCIA program. In October 2012, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Don and Carol Clark and Tom Ryan from St. Michael the Archangel/Mary Mother of Peace. Deacon Kenny Hall was assigned to the parish.
October 2012 - Respect for Life Month activities included prayers, collection for Pregnancy center and closing Benediction.
In 2012 the Steering committees for MMOP and SMA were reactivated for the purpose of reviewing the needs of the parish. Surveys were conducted by both churches and results reported. The St. Michael’s group began Meet’n’Greets, re-established Socials and Lent lunch’n’prayer.
Mary’s Cupboard started in October 2011, continued to distribute bags of food to the needy and St. Vincent DePaul met with needy families, providing monetary assistance on an ongoing basis.
Divine Mercy, the St. Peregrine support group, Justin Lesko Society for young people, Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes meet regularly.
The Prayer and Bereavement groups provide support to parishioners in need of prayers and guidance to families who recently lost a loved one.
In October 2012, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Don and Carol Clark and Tom Ryan from St. Michael the Archangel/Mary Mother of Peace.
Long overdue repairs to the facilities began in 2012. St. Michael's had air conditioning and heating systems upgraded in 2012. Repairs were made to the roof and Air Conditioning at Mary Mother of Peace in December 2012. A vesting Room for Priests and Deacons was completed at Mary Mother of Peace in March 2013.
St. Michael the Archangel Chapel moved to church May 14, 2013.
As a parish, we look ahead to the Diocesan “Sustaining the Hope” participation in fall 2013.
Mary Mother of Peace’s 25th Anniversary Mass and dinner was celebrated July 28, 2013
A Youth Leader/Parish Receptionist, Caroline Reeger, was hired. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts/ Theology from Mount St. Mary’s University.
In October 2013, parish’s Order of Merit recipients were: Jim and Rita Clark and Bill Sheck from St. Michael the Archangel/Mary Mother of Peace.
“Sustaining the Hope” campaign lunched September 29, 2013 Click her for brochure
Our parish goal is $584,000 over 3 years. The campaign is a great opportunity for our parish and the diocese to take care of long-term needs.
In October 2014, parish's Order of Merit recipients were: Elsa Rodriguez-Trejo
On February 2, 2015 a Parish Receptionist, Carol Turoczy, was hired. Carol moved to Lower Slower from the Wilmington area where she was on staff at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.
Fr. James Downs, MSA and Fr. Cesar Gomez left the parish in 2015. Fr. Cesar was replaced by Fr. Johnny Laura-Lazo and Fr. Jim retired to Florida.
In October 2015, parish's Order of Merit recipients were: Joe Buzzelli and Barb DeBastianni
The Pastor, Fr. Bob Burk, MSA, retired from the Parish for health reasons on November 10, 2015. Fr. Bob Coine was assigned by the Diocese as Administrator.
F. Robert Coine was assigned as Administrator of the Parish on November 16, 2015.
Patricia Nowak employed as Finance and Business Manager on March 14, 2016.
On April 4, 2016, Deacon Barry Taylor was officially welcomed to the parish.
Fr. Robert Coine was assigned as Pastor of the Parish on April 28, 2016. He was officially installed as Pastor at 11 am Mass at Mary Mother of Peace by Msgr. Steven P. Hurley, VG, STL on Sunday, June 26.
To be continued . . .