Parish celebrates 50 years in the ‘new church’

Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Thomas Zinkula prays the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass Aug. 25 at Ss. Philip & James Catholic Church in Grand Mound. Pictured at the altar with him are, from left, Deacon Mike Sheil and concelebrants Father Francis Odoom, pastor, and Father Bill Kneemiller, a former pastor.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

GRAND MOUND — Some parishioners still refer to the building that houses Ss. Philip & James as the “new church” 50 years after it was completed. The parish celebrated the milestone Aug. 25 during the 10 a.m. Mass at which Bishop Thomas Zinkula presided.

Before the start of Mass, Parish Council President Joyce Barnes gave a message from the ambo, thanking the bishop for “coming out for this special occasion.” She said that 50 years ago parishioners had to make a difficult decision — whether to keep their Catholic school open or build a new church. “They made the decision to build a new church,” she said. “We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the past 50 years, yet by keeping our faith alive, loving one another, coming together as a faith-filled community, we are staying strong. Our Lord has carried us through; Our Lord continues to shed light on our journey together.”

After reading a passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians about Christ being the cornerstone of the church, Barnes concluded, “Let us pray that our faith-filled foundation, our cornerstone, will continue to grow in community….”

In his homily, Bishop Zinkula acknowledged that church buildings play an important role in Christian communities. “They are the places where the members gather for worship, faith formation, fellowship and outreach.” The original church building in Grand Mound was built in 1876, enlarged in 1891 and again in 1919. Still too small, the old building was replaced by the existing one which was completed in 1969 and dedicated in 1970.

“Community is really important, but the invitation to community ultimately leads beyond itself,” the bishop said. “Catholic Christian disciples are called to transform our society … we are to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, the joy of the Gospel, to the ends of the earth. We are to bring the whole world to Christ, that’s the call of Vision 20/20. Disciples of Christ have an intense concern for the poor as Jesus did. They are committed to justice. A central theme in the preaching of Jesus was the coming of God’s kingdom, and God’s kingdom is a kingdom of peace and justice. Every 10th line in the New Testament is a direct challenge to reach out to the poor. Jesus tells us we will be judged on this.”
Openness to ongoing conversion is necessary to become better disciples of Christ, the bishop said. “In which of these three areas do you and I need to experience the most growth — my personal holiness, my involvement in the parish community, my outreach to others? How is God calling you and me to change?”

As Mass ended, Bishop Zinkula received a gift from the parish — an engraved stone commemorating the 50th anniversary of the church building. “It’s not even my birthday,” he quipped.

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Ken and Helen Mosier of Grand Mound have been parishioners for 66 years and helped build the “new” church. “We’re really proud of it,” Helen said. She and Ken were especially happy to have the bishop come to celebrate. “It makes our day.” Helen added, “We love our priest (Father Francis Odoom).”

Ninety-three-year-old Grace Kinney, who with her late husband Clarence raised their 15 children in this parish, also expressed pride in the church. “It holds a lot more people and it was made in a fan shape.” Nine of her children — including Joyce Barnes, the parish council president, attended the Mass.

Brian Kinney, the baby of the family at age 52, cherishes memories he’s made in the church, including altar serving for siblings’ weddings. “A lot of my sisters got married here,” he said.


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