History of St. James 1991 - Present
Fr. Phil Schmitter and Sister Joanne Chiavelini, IHM presented a Day of Recollection at St. James on March 23rd. Also in March Dr. James Neering and Ginny Guarnaccia were commissioned Bereavement Ministers in Lansing, Michigan. Ellie Flood was hired to share office manager duties. Paul Mangan Brandenburg was elected Chairman of the Pastoral Council. In May our St. James Golden Jubilee Debt Reduction and Church Completion Fund Program began. The Co-Chairman were Dan Bishop and Paul Miller and the goal was to pay off the existing debt and add thinks like stained glass windows, new pews, air conditioning, altar Crucifix and Social Hall improvements. The Drive raised about $300,000. In July, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Lansing donated their old pews to St. James. A group of volunteers went to pick up the pews while another group cleaned and made room for the donated pews. Director of Youth Ministry Linda Hendry left the position and Dru Vinson was hired to fill the position. Former St. James Pastor Msgr. William Meyers (80-84) was made Prelate of Honor to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Reverend Monsignor by a papal announcement on July 27th. Former Pastor Fr. George Zabelka (71-76) celebrated 50 years as a Priest on June 7th in Flint. The framework and sound proof panels were constructed and raised into place in Cave Hall. Jack O’Berry and Bill Lechleitner directed this project. Jill Kiley was hired to share the officer manager position with Ellie Flood. The Catholic Weekly, a publication of the Diocese of Lansing, ceased publication on October 4th. It ran from 1954 to 1991. St. James received a $16,000 donation from the Estate of Edmond and Mary Spiehl. On October 20th, the Women’s Club held their annual Membership Tea. Knights of Columbus Council #9182 donated new vinyl covers for all of the Mass Missalettes and they sponsored a New Year’s Eve Party at St. James.
On January 19th, St. James Parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary kickoff with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kenneth J. Povish. The Church flag, the American flag and the State of Michigan flag were installed in Cave Hall by Randy Schroeder and Paul Miller. The Christian Service Commission held a Jubilee Kickoff Party on February 29th. Sixteen Stain Glass Windows created by Richard Hanley of Omnibus Design in Okemos were added to the Church prior to Easter Sunday. Fourteen windows depict the Stations of the Cross and the others are St. James and Fr. Marquette. Donor memorials are included at the bottom of each window: The Donald VanderVeen Family; Jack & Beverly O’Berry & Family/J.B. & Betty Evans & Family; In Memory of John Petitto by the Family; In Memory of Rose Petitto by Mr. & Mrs. John S. Petitto & Family; In Memory of the Schmitter Family; In Memory of Tony & Virginia Simone by the Family; In Memory of Leonard & Ellen Martineau by the Family; In memory of Gennaro & Serafina DeRosa by Their Children & Grandchildren; Dr. & Mrs. Timothy Zielinski; In Memory of C. Ken & Leah Horn; In Memory of John P. & M. Catherine O’Brien by the Family; In Memory of Fred & Ida Sinn by James and Stella Flood; In Memory of Edmond & Mary Spiehl; In Memory of Margaret Hope; In Memory of Mother M. Pegher by Douglas Mumby Family; In Memory of Francis “Red” Varney. On April 8th, Suzanne M. Young, artist from Berkley, Michigan, arrived with eight pieces of sculpture which would become Our Risen Lord on the South wall in the Sanctuary. She was assisted by Dick Brown, Jim McEwan, Jim Brown, Robert Leyko, Bill Lechleitner and Jack O’Berry. The Oak Cross and enhancements were added by Dick Brown and Jim McEwan. Donors included the Richardson family, the Young family, the McEwan family, the Brown family and the Mason Knights of Columbus Council #9182. A Parish Mission was held on April 26th-30th with Fr. Rudy Papes and Fr. Turk Rooney. Our Homecoming Celebration was held June 13th and 14th. A wall sized quilt was created and each parish group contributed a square of 12” x 12” and they became a quilt at the hands of Mary Glynn and it is known as our “Jubilee Quilt”. Contributors were Jill Kiley, Edna Eckert, Cheryl Lariviere, Rose Robertson, Michelle Leyko, Cathy Broughton, Dru Vinson, Mickey Bergeon, Martha Williams, Sue Clark and Karen Bishop. The weekend included an open house and catered dinner and music by Mixed Company with Ralph DeVitto, Shelia Pawlowski, Jim Brown and Steve Szilagyi. Sunday Mass was celebrated by Fr. Kenneth McDonald, Fr. Phil Gallagher (85) and Fr. Phil Schmitter assisted by Deacon Gordon Kilburn. Special guests included former principal and teacher at St. James School, Sister M. Bartholomew OP of Cleveland, Sister Rebecca Shiroda OP of Adrian, Sister Joanne Chiaverini, IHM, co-director of the St. Francis Prayer Center and Margaret DeRose, sister of Fr. Paul DeRose (55-57). After Mass the Knights of Columbus served a chicken barbecue and Ann Dunivon entertained the children. Youth Ministry coordinator Dru Vinson left St. James. Jay Jensen was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. Pepe Vasquez was hired as the Jr. /Sr. High Program Director. The St. James Fall Festival was held the weekend of September 18th through the 20th. The St. James Women’s Club held its Annual Membership Tea in Keating Hall. A Community Holiday Dance was held at St. James on December 6th. Former Pastor Fr. James W. Lee Jr. (57-63) died on January 25th and former Pastor Fr. George Zabelka (71-76) died on April 11th at the age of 76.
On January 17th, Bishop J. Kenneth Povish celebrated the Liturgy closing out our yearlong Jubilee Celebration. A reception followed the Mass. Walt Gurzenda was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. The DSA Goal was $23,000. Nathan Robertson was the first Eagle Scout of Troop 141 charted to St. James. His name is on the plaque in the South wing with other Eagle Scouts. The Women’s Club started the Dream Kitchen Project for Keating Hall. From August 11-15, Youth Group representatives from St. James attended the World Youth Day ‘93 in Denver, Colorado. They were Heather Dunivon, Laura Heiler, Jessica Ward, Jennifer Giron, Christy Miller, Jeanna Cervantes, Candace Norris, Jason Rodriguez, Marc Williams, Nathan Dean, Chris Surato, Jayme Theis, Jacob Anthony and Casey Vincent. Adults were Martha Williams, Loretta Heiler, Teresa Anthony and Linda Norris. They saw Pope John Paul II three times. The S.H.A.R.E. food distribution started at St. James with Eleanor Vincent as coordinator. On September 26th a farewell party and open house was held for Deacon Gordon Kilburn (84-93) and his family who were moving to Tennessee. The Parish Pictorial Directories for our Jubilee year were distributed. The St. James Women’s Club, under the leadership of Helen Kelley, held their Annual Membership Tea on September 27th. The St. James Fall Festival, chaired by Dan Wagoner, was held on October 1-3 with a Las Vegas Night, craft show, All Star Baseball Game, Harvest Dance, kid’s games and a Chicken BBQ. The Committee purchased a new refrigerator with part of the proceeds. Fr. Ken’s Basic Doctrine Class started on October 3rd. Youth Director Pepe Vasquez resigned in December. Former Pastor Fr. William Meyers (80-84) died on February 18th.
Martha Williams was appointed Coordinator of Youth Programs at St. James. A Parish wide Mission was conducted by Fr. Larry Delaney from May 15th through May 18th. Knights of Columbus Council #9182 received “Exceptional Level of Support for Seminarians Award from the Michigan State Council. Project Help our Parish (HOP) was started at St. James as a Church fundraiser selling Meijer and Kroger gift certificates. St. James participated in the Lansing Area Rotating Sanctuary (LARS) program for several years. Wilbur and Ethel Singer celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary on June 30th. The St. James Fall Festival including a Las Vegas Night, auction, craft sale, bake sale, teen dance and chicken BBQ was held from October 7th through October 9th. Paul Brandenburg received the “Peacemaker” Respect Life Award from the Diocese of Lansing on October 16th. The Befriender Ministry was started at St. James with Pat Martin Coordinator. On the first Sunday of Advent, the Responsorial Psalm was read from the Altar and the announcements were read from the announcement stand. Vicky Maltby was hired as the St. James Office Manager. Ellie Flood was named St. James Bulletin Editor. Plaques recognizing the donors from the St. James Building Fund Pledge Drive were installed at the West entrance of the Church. They were made by the Dick Brown and Jim McEwan families.
Wood risers for the choir were completed compliments of the Mason Lumber Company, Tom Bergeon, Don Kill, Mike Birkmire and Ken Tiffany. On March 12th volunteers from St. James removed our old assorted pews and our new pews were installed during the week. Donors for our new pews are included on a plaque in the West entrance of the Church. Bonnie Gurzenda joined Ellie Flood as St. James Bulletin Editor. Steve Harmon was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. “Marriage as a lifetime commitment” was presented at St. James by Allen Theison on April 23rd and 30th. On July 23rd, Bishop Kenneth J. Povish joined us for the Sunday Liturgy celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the new Church building. Mass was followed by a chicken BBQ and dance. The Video Lending Library was started at St. James with a grant from the Diocese of Lansing and a video cabinet was purchased. The St. James fall Festival was held on October 6th through the 8th with a Las Vegas Night, raffle, auction, craft booth, teen dance and chicken BBQ.
A Debt Reduction Campaign was conducted throughout the year. Walt Gurzenda was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. On May 11th a concert/dinner Benefit featuring the Irish Band “Blackthorn” was held to help Fr. Daniel Noud from Ireland. The event was chaired by Parishioners Bill and Carol Noud. This concert started the long running “Blackthorn” concert fundraisers at St. James. On December 15th, our Favorite Son Fr. Phil Schmitter celebrated his 25th Anniversary as a Priest with a Mass at St. James followed by a reception in his honor. The St. James Memorial/Meditation Garden concept started with a memorial to two deceased Youth Group members Jody Metz and Amy Hill. A bench and shrubs were planned to be placed in the grass area near the main entrance to the Church. Aida Hill designed a 3-5 year landscape plan and the garden started.
Our new Baby Grand Piano was delivered thanks to the Jim Brown, Richard Brown and Jim McEwan Families in Memory of I. Roberta Brown, the Ralph DeVitto Family, the Steve Szilagyi Family, the Tim McNeely Family and the Mason Knights of Columbus Council #9182. The first “Blackthorn” Concert fundraiser was held on March 22nd at the Ingham County Fair Community Center. The new St. James Bell Tower was donated and constructed in April compliments of the Bergeon Family in Memory of Mary and J.C. Bergeon. The bells and carillon were paid for by 32 donors from St. James. On May 10th, Fr. Kenneth McDonald celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his Ordination with a Mass and Parish reception. Keating hall was reroofed. The Knights of Columbus, Mason Council #9182, received the State Council “Church Award” at the Knights of Columbus Convention on Mackinac Island. Sue Bauer, Music Director, left St. James in July. Joe Guarnaccia erected a gazebo in the grass area between the North and South parking lots dedicated to the Memory of Rose Petitto. Bob Byrans was completing a Master Gardener series at MSU and started digging the Memorial Garden walkway. On Memorial Day Weekend, the Duff & Martha Williams family, the Roger and Rose Robertson family and a group of youth poured the cement forms for the cobblestone walkway including their initials. Name boards for $50 were available in memory of loved ones and Duff Williams carved out the names and the youth group painted the letters and the memorial structures started. In the fall, a prayer vigil was held during Youth Group to dedicate the Memorial/Meditation Garden. Bob Bryans continued to maintain the Garden with name board donations. Ginny Guarnaccia was commissioned a Lay Ecclesial Minister of St. James by the Most Reverend Carl Mengeling, Bishop of Lansing. Walt Gurzenda was re-elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. On August 9th, a special Mass and Potluck Dinner were held for Sister Maureen Martin, CSJ, on the occasion of her 40th Anniversary of Final Vows. A Parish Mission, “Give God a Second Thought” was given by Fr. John Collins CSP on September 15-18. Marjan Helms was hired as our new Music Director in October.
Former St. James Administrator Fr. Phil Gallagher (85) presented a two day workshop at St. James, “Celebrate the Third Millennium” on January 19th and 20th. Fr. Kenneth McDonald officiated at the dedication for the Memorial to the Unborn donated to St. James Parish by the Knights of Columbus, Mason Council #9182. The new Cedar Street Entrance to St. James was constructed. Dick Brown built the Reservation Altar for the Eucharist Chapel. Construction of the Memorial/Meditation Garden was started with assistance from Bob Bryans. It was dedicated on October 5th by Fr. Kenneth McDonald. Walt Gurzenda was reelected Pastoral Council Chairperson. A new St. James Church sign was installed at the entrance on Cedar Street. Parishioner Michael J. Jacobus enrolled at the Seminary in Minnesota. The Parish Pictorial Directories were distributed. St. James Church joined Cyberspace and the Internet. The small tabernacle that was in the St. James Convent (54-70) was donated to the Mother Teresa House in Lansing. Sister Maureen Martin CSJ celebrated 50 years of religious life with a reception at the Tipton CSJ Community on October 18th.
Fr. Kenneth McDonald retired from St. James on June 29th and moved to DeWitt. A party was held in his honor and to thank him for his many years of service. The Parish Health Ministry was started at St. James with Chairperson Judy Harkness, R.N. and her team. Fr. Alan J. Wakefield was appointed Pastor by the Most Reverend Carl F. Mengeling, Bishop of Lansing. Fr. Al moved the Chair off the Altar to the front pew facing the altar so he could better listen to the Word as it is proclaimed. Rose Robertson was awarded the National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors Religious Educators Excellence Award in April at the New Orleans National Catholic Education Association Conference. In May, a new statue of St. James was installed at the Southwest corner of the new Church... The Migrant Outreach Ministry was started at St. James by Dr. Vince Guarnaccia. Eva Cool retired from Office and Housekeeping duties at St. James after 16 years of service. Ellie Flood retired and Pam Williams was hired as co-editor of the Parish Bulletin. Sister Maureen Martin CSJ was visiting the Holy Land.
Two of our Favorite Son’s, Dr. Vince Guarnaccia and Tom Feiten, were ordained as Permanent Deacons in the Catholic Church on May 20th. Deacon Tom Feiten was assigned to St. James Church in Mason and Deacon Vince Guarnaccia was assigned to St. Martha’s Church in Okemos. On May 6th, the new altar furnishings from the Val DeRosa family were consecrated by the Most Reverend Carl Mengeling, Bishop of Lansing and Fr. Alan J. Wakefield. Ginny Guarnaccia, St, James Pastoral Assistant, resigned to become a Research & staff assistant in the Lansing Diocese office of Pastoral Planning. Our Kosovo Family, Qamil, Suzanna, Zac, Labinot, Donmira, Donjeta and Lirik Esati, arrived on May 22nd to a fully furnished home at 121 Elm Street. They were assisted by the Many Gifts Many Ministries Committee chaired by Anne DeVitto and Sue Powers with help from many parishioners. The Rectory was redecorated including paint, carpet and toilet upgrades. The Reconciliation Chapel received a facelift and the Women’s Club purchased new Vestments for Fr. Al and Deacon Tom. Charlene Bodary joined Martha Williams as Youth Ministers. Amanda Roggenbuck was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson in February. The St. James Parish Festival was held on October 8th with food, raffle, face painting, games, live music and more. Dave Schepis was hired for Building Maintenance. Piedad Kelly retired as our coordinator of pre-school/kindergarten program and Barb Madsen took over the position. Former DRE at St. James, William Hebekeuser (78-84), was ordained a Permanent Deacon in Dallas, Texas, on January 2nd.
The Knights of Columbus, Mason Council #9182, celebrated their 15th Anniversary with a Mass, Social, Dinner and Program. Special guests included Fr. Alan J. Wakefield, Fr. Kenneth McDonald (85-99) and State Deputy George Dann. Bonnie Gurzenda retired from the Bulletin Editor position. Fr. Al, Vicky Maltby and Nancy Babin will complete the Bulletin. Chris Knudstrup was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. Jan Krzesicki was hired to assist Marjan Helms. The St. James Parish Festival was held on August 26th with dinner, clowns, raffle, games and a live band for dancing. The St. James Rosary Makers were reorganized under the direction of Janet Pawlowski on October 21st with encouragement from Sister Maureen Martin CSJ. Parishioners welcomed the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, David Chol and Garang Deng, who lived in the Rectory temporarily. The new Procession during the Preparation of the Gifts was started on December 2nd.
The St. James Women’s Club hosted the Lansing Region Council of Catholic Women Interfaith Day on February 26th. Former Pastor Fr. Kenneth McDonald (85-99) celebrated his 45th Anniversary as a Priest on May 12th. Walt Gurzenda was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. The St. James Family Festival was held on August 25th with bingo, dinner, raffle and children’s games. A RENEW Parish Mission was conducted from September 13th through the 18th. Keating Hall received a facelift including new paint, doors and carpeting. Our new Processional Crucifix was first used at the 9:00 Mass on November 25th compliments of Tom Bergeon, Shirley Grieve and Dave Schepis. Martha Williams received the “Friend of Youth” award at the annual Youth Jamboree. On November 16th, Rose Robertson and Barb White were commissioned as Ecclesial Lay Ministers by the Most Reverend Carl Mengeling, Bishop of Lansing. St. James Parish celebrated its 60th Anniversary on Christmas Day. Former DRE. at St. James, Fr. William Hebekeuser (78-84) died in Texas on October 2nd.
The 60th Anniversary St. James Pictorial Directories were distributed. Under the leadership of Fr. Alan Wakefield and the craftsmanship of Tom Bergeon, Matt Bergeon and Ellis Foss, the Chapel was renovated with donations in the memory of Fr. Al’s mother, Anna Mary Wakefield and from other groups. The original St. James tabernacle, purchased by Mary DeRose in 1954, was placed on a pedestal in the new archway. The floor was tiled and a ramp to the Altar was built. The red sanctuary lamp near the tabernacle was purchased in 1955 by our first resident pastor, Fr. Paul DeRose (55-57). Nancy Babin retired as Religious Education Secretary and Barb Madsen was named to fill the vacant position. Jeff Haueter was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. The Third Season of RENEW was kicked off on October 12th.
Uganda Ministry members Keri Mertens and Joe and Kristine Richard traveled to visit our Sister Parish in Buseesa in January. On March 18th, the Uganda Committee sponsored a “Get to know your Sister Parish in Uganda” with a pot luck dinner and discussion. The Vigil Candle Tree in the Chapel was donated in memory of Beverly O’Berry by the O’Berry Family. “Oktoberfest” was held on October 2nd with a pork roast dinner, beer and wine social, raffle and dancing with a live band. Fr. Alan Wakefield received the “Friend of Youth Award” at the regional High School Jamboree.
Pope John Paul II passed away on April 2nd. A benefit Fish Fry was held on April 8th at St. James for the Eden United Brethren Church to help in their rebuilding after their fire. Pope Benedict XVI was elected on April 19th. Fr. Alan Wakefield celebrated his 30th Anniversary as a Priest on May 15th with a pork loin dinner and pot luck sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. 894 families were registered at St. James Church. In late June and early July the second pilgrimage to Buseesa, Uganda, by members of the Uganda Committee took place with Fr. Alan Wakefield, Denis and Carleen White, Julia Powers, Heidi Woodman and Sue Powers going for two weeks. They met primarily with Fr. Francis Komakech and two Seminarians, Emmanuel Kweezi and Robert Boomera who both became Priests in later years. The focus of the visit was helping to begin the building of their Secondary School, providing medical supplies and looking into the building of a maize mill for the Parish. They met many Villagers and children, worked hard and played hard. On July 29th we celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the dedication of our new Church. Jim Marshall was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. St. James “Oktoberfest 2005” was celebrated with a pork loin dinner, music, raffle, spirits and door prizes. Knights of Columbus, Mason Council #9182, celebrated their 20th Anniversary with a Mass, Social, Dinner and Program.
St. James started the EFT (electronic fund transfer) Program for direct Parishioner contributions. The initial campaign netted eleven participants. The Knights of Columbus kicked off their 20th Annual Fish Fry Season. In June, Jan Krzesicki, the 5:00 Music Director, left St. James to pursue full time employment. Fr. Francis, Pastor of the Buseesa Parish in Uganda, visited St. James for several weeks. While he was here he stayed with Parishioners and also celebrated his 5th Anniversary as a Priest with a party hosted by the Uganda Committee. In August, Office Manager Vicky Maltby married Paul Martin. The St. James Book Group “Bookies” was organized at a meeting on November 9th directed by Bonnie Gurzenda and Rose Robertson. The First Annual Women’s Cookie Exchange called “Sweets, Sisterhood and Spirituality” was held during the Advent Season. Marie Sheridan was commissioned as a Lay Ecclesial Minister by Bishop Carl Mengeling. The Knights of Columbus, Council #9182 developed their new website, http://masonknights.org thanks to Corey Dollman-Jersey.
In January, the third pilgrimage to Buseesa, Uganda, by members of the Uganda Committee took place with Charles and Karen Heiler going there for two weeks. They met with Damian, Fr. Francis, Fr. Paul and many Villagers and Children. They toured several projects that St. James Parishioners have sponsored and did some sightseeing and they said it was a wonderful experience. On May 19th, the Parish celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Fr. Kenneth McDonald’s (85-99) Ordination with a Mass, Social, Dinner and Program in his honor. The 11th Annual “Blackthorn” concert fundraiser was held on March 24th. Music Director, Marjan Helms, left St. James. Following the leadership of parishioners Carleen White and Tammy March, a group of Knights of Columbus wives formed the “Knights Angels” on August 26th to support and enhance the programs of Mason Council #9182. Diane Whitney was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. Our very own Seminarian Michael Jacobus was ordained a Deacon in Marquette by Bishop Alexander Sample. In September, Gayle Pohl, was hired as St. James new Music Director. The roof shingles on the Sanctuary were replaced in October. On December 17th we lost Virginia Guarnaccia. Ginny and Vince came to St. James in 1967 and Ginny held volunteer and paid positions at St. James until May of 2000 when she became a Research & staff assistant in the Lansing Diocese office of Pastoral Planning.
Our very own Favorite Son Deacon Michael J. Jacobus was ordained into the Priesthood on June 6, 2008, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Marquette, Michigan, by the Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample. Fr. Jacobus was vested by Fr. Alan J. Wakefield and Fr. Robb Jurkovich. Fr. Michael's parents Nancy Jacobus and Michael Jacobus were there along with many other relatives, friends and parishioners from St. James. He is assigned to Holy Family Parish, 515 Pine St. Ontonagon, Michigan, 49953. Fr. Michael Jacobus celebrated his first Mass at St. James on June 22nd with a reception following Mass. The Most Reverend Carl F. Mengeling, Bishop of Lansing, retired on February 27th. The Most Reverend Earl Boyea became the fifth Bishop of Lansing on April 29th. Market Day started at St. James in the Spring and Fall where Parishioners are invited to vend their wares on reserved tables. Sister Maureen Martin celebrated her 60th Jubilee. Fr. Alan J. Wakefield began his sabbatical in Spain. The Mason Knights of Columbus Council #9182 conducted the “Where in the World is Fr. Al” fundraiser with $10,000 donated to St. James Church. The 2008 St. James Pictorial Directory was completed and distributed.
Anne Bohl was elected Chairperson of the Pastoral Council. Fr. Alan J. Wakefield completed his sabbatical and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Retreat Journey. The combined Choirs of the Men of Orpheus, the Flint Singing Knights and the Council #9182 Men’s Choir sang at a weekend Mass directed by Gayle Pohl. The Gazebo in the Memorial/Meditation Garden was renovated receiving a new foundation and new floor compliments of the Knights of Columbus Mason Council #9182, the St. James Women’s Club and the Knights Angels in memory of FDD PGK Ronald Soltis. Barb Madsen retired from the Faith Formation Department after many years of service. Alison Burch was welcomed as the new Faith Formation Assistant. We celebrated former pastor Fr. Kenneth McDonald’s (85-99) 80th birthday with a Mass, Social and Party in August.