The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the home parish of my family in Williamstown, PA, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1975. Several activities were held to commemorate the event. Here are photographs and an article from The Catholic Witness, the newspaper of the Diocese of Harrisburg, from May 29, 1975. The article mentions my cousin, Fr. Thomas Craven.
I wonder if anything is planned for the 150th anniversary?
Williamstown parish celebrates centennial
By DON WARD
WILLIAMSTOWN – Children from the Sacred Heart Parish CCD School here and hundreds of parishioners took part in a living Rosary procession last week in memory of Mary Noel, a former CCD teacher who died heroically in a fire in November. The procession was part of a weeklong centennial celebration which included a sisters tea, a community hymn sing, a Latin Mass, a Mass with Bishop Joseph Daley and other events.
Ruth McNalis, chairperson for the living Rosary procession, related that Mrs. Noel had volunteered to help with the procession just a week before she died trying to rescue an invalid friend, Mrs. Sarah Dunlop, who lived with the Noels. Both women died in the fire.
Four CCD students carried a life-sized cross in the procession. Costumed children represented Our Lady’s visit to Fatima in 1917. Miss McNalis said “all who participated in the procession will remember the little lady with a ready smile who had a tremendous love for God and His Mother Mary as well as for her fellow man.”
Many more memories were part of the centennial week. The Latin Mass on May 18 drew enthusiastic response, according to Father Thomas Simpson, pastor. He said the consensus he drew was that parishioners enjoyed the Latin Mass but wouldn’t want to return to it regularly.
Later that Sunday, a centennial display was opened in the Church basement during a sisters’ tea. The display included models of the places in which Mass had been said for the parish — among them were a log cabin, a school, a private home, a town hall and the church, begun in 1870, first used in 1875 and completed in 1885. The display also depicted the school, opened in 1911, a fire which gutted the church in 1930, and the closing of the school. It also recognized eight priests born in the parish and 13 sisters.
Father Thomas Craven, a native son of the parish and a priest of Philadelphia, was the homilist for the Mass with Bishop Daley on Sunday. He recounted incidents from the history of Williamstown and Sacred Heart Parish.
Other activities of the week included a centennial ball, a community hymn sing, a folk Mass, dances for school children and a puppet show. A hardbound parish history was published.
R. Michael Dolan, chairman of the centennial committee, said at least 50 parishioners helped in planning and carrying out the week’s events.
Father Simpson said the celebration “was lovely.”