My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Birthday to St. Mary's in Rochester







Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to take this opportunity to extend a 175th birthday greeting to the St. Mary's Church community in Rochester, New York.

The older photo above was taken in 1896, when St. Mary's was only 62 years-old. At that time, the church was adjacent to a convent and school. The convent and school have since fallen victim to the wrecking ball. (Students from St. Mary's began attending Blessed Sacrament School in the 1950s.) The color photo was taken in recent years.

When St. Mary's was in its infancy (built by Irish immigrants), it was one of the centerpieces of downtown Rochester, and was surrounded by thriving households. Except for its steeple, St. Mary's can barely be seen from a distance today, due to the fact that corporate office buildings now dwarf the church.

St. Mary's was a huge part of my life, for I received the sacraments of initiation there. Sadly, some of the friends I had at the parish have since died. However, I have wonderful memories of the many ministries that took up much of my time, such as playing handbells and trumpet, singing with both choirs, and serving as a lector, eucharistic minister, and serving as a member of the liturgy committee.

I will be forever grateful to a long-time pastor of St. Mary's, Rev. Jim Lawlor, for his friendship and inspiration. In addition to receiving the sacraments of initiation from Jim, he officiated at the wedding of Brenda and me in 1994. Sister Joan Sobala was also a great inspiration to me, and my involvement with the push to ordain women is due in large part to her long-time passion for this effort.

One of the great joys I had at St. Mary's was my involvement with the 'T-group.' Our job was to come up with catchy words or slogans to advertise the parish each week. It is not an exaggeration to say that the puns and laughter were legendary. I want to thank Nancy DeRycke for her contributions to this particular group. (I don't know who came out with the most puns - Nancy or myself.)

The current staff of St. Mary's is doing a great job keeping the parish running. I left the parish shortly following the departure of Fr. Jim Lawlor. However, I have attended occasional liturgies to say hello to old friends and the current staff.

If it is a little sad for me to walk into St. Mary's right now, it is due to the recent death of Fr. Joseph P. Brennan, who was part of the weekend assistance team at St. Mary's for many years. In addition, he became a good friend to Brenda and me. For those of you who don't know, Joe was a former rector of the old St. Bernard's Seminary in Rochester. He then went on to be a director of the the interfaith chapel on the campus of the University of Rochester. Brenda and I miss Joe, for he was one of the kindest people anyone could ever hope to meet. I am sure his legacy will be mentioned amongst the many activities taking place at St. Mary's this week.

Hearty congratulations to St. Mary's for being an important part of Rochester's history.

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