Our little church parish has been a parish for 50 years. Before that, it was a mission church. I've only been there for about 8 of those years, but I love it! I've heard our church called "The Little Cathedral in the Ghetto" by someone who loves it as much as I do. We laugh at that, but it is quite beautiful - I am not biased - and the area where we are located has declined over the years. Decades ago, a nice quiet neighborhood. Now, not so much.
Our pastor has repeatedly said that our parish has been "the oasis in the desert of his life". I do think that he is happy where he is at. Beautiful things bloom in the desert, he said.
Our parish is a nice mixture of people. The parking lot is bordered by apartments housing the elderly and handicapped, and the neighborhood has aged, so there are a lot of senior people there. There is also a school associated with the parish, so there are some families with children there. That's why I am there...because my kids went to the associated school. There are white people and there are black people and they worship in harmony from the same pews. People that tell you "hello" when they see you at the grocery store or in the car-rider line at school. A family feel. A lot of people are on fixed incomes; not alot of money is spent on extravagance.
It is a small parish, as parishes go. Our current pastor has additional duties with the diocese. Our previous pastor was also pastor of another small parish. There are not 85 committees or opportunities for ministry in the church bulletin, but I suppose if you want to be involved, there is a place for you. I've found one. There is an altar society and altar servers. Ushers and lectors and ministers of Holy Communion. Religious education for the kids and Bible studies scattered throughout the year for the adults. RCIA. Choir. Our little choir is awesome and the music at every Mass is heavenly. People sing.
So....our celebration. There is a beauty in simplicity, and I think it's fair to say that our pastor is very much tuned in to that beauty. As nearly as I can tell, this event was planned by the Ladies' Altar Society. There was not a lot of anticipation and hype.
The church was decorated simply. Some gold ribbon bows on the front pews and a beautiful red poinsettia in a gold pot on either side of the [gold] tabernacle. Very simple, but elegant.
That's a picture of our beautiful sanctuary. It's a picture of a picture that was in the commemorative booklet that we received. (which is why the quality is so-so)
Our pastor celebrated Mass on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I was at the Saturday evening Mass, and he spoke simply and from the heart about our parish and what we are called to be. There was quiet applause at the end of his homily, as he wished us Happy Anniversary.
Our Bishop was there for our second Sunday morning Mass. There were musicians with stringed instruments in the choir loft. Quite lovely.
After Mass, there was gumbo in the church hall. A band. Standing room only. Gumbo isn't the easiest thing to eat standing up. There was a lot of effort put into the decorating by the "Ladies". We had real table clothes and utensils wrapped in gold and white napkins. There was a guest book to sign and a booklet with details of our parish's history. More desserts than any one could possibly eat. I said "no" to the desserts until they were cleaning up and kept asking if I wanted some cake to take home..."for the boys". I have a hunk of cake in my freezer, as I type.
The second pastor of the parish was at Mass and the gumbo. He is in his 90's now. Towards the end, the seminarian - now priest - who had been at our parish about 4 years ago showed up. He was a great guy; my boys enjoyed serving with him because he carried on a conversation with them. It was really good to see him again.
My boys and some other Boy Scouts provided clean up services.
I'm the wife of one ancient man and the mom of two teen beings with Y chromosomes.
I teach middle school special ed, and I'm slightly "touched".
I've always been Catholic, but in recent years my faith has become much more important in my life. Now I'm a "Happy Catholic."