Saginaw SS. Peter and Paul Parish marks 125 years
By Regina Rinderer
The Catholic Weekly
SAGINAW — SS. Peter and Paul Parish celebrated its 125-year anniversary at its annual festival the weekend of June 24-26.
The festival weekend began with a barbecue dinner on Friday evening, cooked in part by Fr. Jack Johnson. Saturday’s events included a morning golf scramble and an evening euchre tournament. The winner of the golf outing was the team led by Fr. Johnson. Tied for first place in the euchre tournament were Gary Clark and Edna Kolton, with Ed Arnold, Jerry Luczak and Ben Kgombar tying for second place.
Sunday’s events began with an outdoor Mass concelebrated by Bishop Joseph R. Cistone. This liturgy marked the first time the bishop has celebrated with the entire SS. Peter and Paul community.
Fr. Johnson began the liturgy by reading from the 125th anniversary prayer, which committees have been using all year: “For 125 years, God’s Word has been proclaimed and lived in this place. For 125 years, sacraments have been celebrated in this place. Countless children, parents and grandparents have been part of SS. Peter and Paul parish. Countless prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and mourning have been offered in this place. Countless witnesses have gone forth from SS. Peter and Paul to spread the Gospel in the community and throughout the world. They are more than can be numbered. For your many gifts, we are grateful, O Lord; they are more than can be numbered. With thanksgiving for the past, with joy in the present, and with hope for the future, we celebrate this anniversary; we remember our baptism promises to proclaim and teach the good news of Jesus Christ with the talents we have, with energy and enthusiasm. Amen.”
Fr. Johnson also pointed out how very different SS. Peter and Paul were. Peter was not very educated. He followed Jesus for three years, though he did not always comprehend what Jesus said and did. Paul, on the other hand, was quite well educated, a rabbi and skilled craftsman, a tentmaker. He did not know Jesus in person, but met Jesus at the time of his conversion experience. The two together exemplify how God can use people of every background, intellect and talent to do God’s work in the world.
In the homily, Bishop Cistone focused on SS. Peter and Paul as two-thirds of a tripod of stability for the Church. Paul represents Scripture, according to the bishop, whereas Peter provided a much-needed unity in the early Church. Where Paul pushed the Church to grow, Peter called the Church to unity. Scripture, unity and, on this Body and Blood of Christ Sunday, the Eucharist, are the tripod of stability for the Church, he said.
The liturgy concluded with the parish blessing Bishop Cistone for his upcoming trip to Ethiopia as a board member of Catholic Relief Services.
Both the adult and handbell choirs provided music for the Mass.
The afternoon included a Chinese auction, bingo, a pie-judging contest
and the grand auction. The grand auction included such items as tickets to the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game to treadmills and Christmas decorations. One very popular item was a wild game dinner to be cooked by Fr. Johnson.
Nearly a dozen pies were entered in the pie-tasting contest, which Bishop Cistone helped to judge. Pie contest winners were Julie Benkert for taste, Sue Spaedt for crust and Lee Ann Paszkiewicz for appearance.
The afternoon also included music by the Feith Brothers Band, outdoor games for children, including a duck pond, a ring toss and a tug of war; and the drawing for the $5,000 grand prize and for various Chinese auction items.
The parish was founded in 1886, the second Catholic church begun on the west side of Saginaw. The original church was on Wayne Street. Thirty-five years ago the church and school moved to West Michigan Avenue. Windows from the previous church adorn the parish chapel.
Parishioner Pat Herbin said her grandparents belonged to the parish in its first years. Her grandfather, Charles Whelton, came from New Brunswick to live in
Saginaw in a home near the old parish. Her grandmother Annie Murphy. came from Ireland through Quebec to become the maid and cook for the original pastor, Fr. Lefevre.
The parish strives to be faithful to its mission statement: “The faith community of SS. Peter and Paul, nourished by the Word of God and the Eucharist, is committed to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people in our parish and to our neighbors in the community.
“With our hearts — we will learn.
“With our hands — we will forgive.
“With our hands — we will reach out.”