Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s been a busy summer. The Ulster Project is going strong this month, thanks in part to some of our very generous parishioners. Our summer seminarian Maksym will be in Poland the next few weeks, but will come back with us for a week or two before returning to the seminary in the autumn. We have a new Facilities Supervisor, George Golightly, who is a retired supervisor from Alcoa Aluminum. And, we are now accepting applications for the position of Parish Bookkeeper, with details in a previous post.
I spent last week on a university campus in northern Indiana, attending a conference for pastors with parish schools. Serious research consistently demonstrates that Catholics who attend Catholic schools are far more likely to remain faithful Catholics as adults, and that our Catholic schools make a significantly positive impact on civic life in the local community. Catholic schools in the USA, on average, are more diverse than secular schools, produce more college graduates, and produce more fruit in the lives of poor children and their communities than do secular schools. Therefore, we should give thanks to God and show gratitude to our parish founders for our school, a great gift to us and to Oak Ridge. I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen this most important ministry of our parish. I ask every member of the parish to volunteer in some way to support our award-winning school.
Sunday, August 22nd is the anniversary of the first public Mass offered in Oak Ridge, which occurred in 1943 on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (now called the “Queenship of Mary”). As such, it is our parish patronal festival day. Plans are underway to mark this anniversary with a casual parish gathering. Other significant dates for our parish include: August 26th, 1962—first Mass in our new “Saint Mary Church”, September 10th, 1950—opening of Saint Mary School, October 11th, 1962—solemn consecration of “Saint Mary Church” by Bishop Adrian of Nashville, October 12th, 1958—dedication of “Our Lady of Oak Ridge” statue (by the turnpike), October 17th, 1946—formation of the Catholic Women Club (now called “Council of Catholic Women”; 70th anniversary!), and November 10th through December 8th, 1968—the public forums on race relations entitled “An Experiment in Social Concern”, sponsored by Saint Mary Parish. Please help me teach our parish children to commemorate these significant dates in our history, celebrating each event on its anniversary, so that our founding events will live on into the future.