PRICE — A standing-room only crowd for the Mass and a crowded parish center for the dinner that followed were visible signs of the Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish community’s enthusiasm as they marked the beginning of the celebrations for the centennial anniversary of their church.
The Mass and dinner on June 20 were held 100 years to the day after the existing church was completed. The parish itself was established in 1918.
“As center of the Catholic community in Price, the parish has offered refreshment, consolation, comfort, guidance, formation and worship to all who have entered their doors, to their neighbors and to the local community,” said Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus, as he blessed the new parish library, the first of the events on June 20.
Msgr. Fitzgerald served as administrator of Notre Dame School from 1964 to 1968; the school closed in 1999.
Following the blessing of the library in the parish center, Msgr. Fitzgerald blessed a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes that once had been at the school but now stands outside the parish rectory.
The blessing of the library and the statue “begins a yearlong celebration of what it means to be a Eucharistic community – a community of faith and a shining example of mission and evangelization in today’s world,” Msgr. Fitzgerald said.
After the two blessing ceremonies, the community processed from the rectory across the street to the church for the Mass at which Father Langes Silva, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, presided. Concelebrating were Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general, who served as pastor of the parish from 1988 to 1994; Msgr. Fitzgerald; Fr. Donald Hope, who was pastor of the parish from 2002 to 2015; Fr. Arokia Dass David, the current parish administrator; and several other priests of the diocese. Bishop Oscar A. Solis was unable to attend; he sent a text message with his regrets and blessings for the community.
Among the guests were Daughters of Charity Sister Frances Meyer and Sister Jo-Anne Laviolette, who both served at Notre Dame School; and Hieromonk Seraphim (Johns) of the Assumption Church Greek Orthodox Church in Price.
Hieromonk Seraphim said he and Fr. Dass David have become good friends, and “our two communities try to support each other and to be here for each other.”
In his homily, Fr. Dass David said that the past 100 years have been “a century of love. A journey of faith. The church in Price is a great gift from the Catholics who lived here 100 years ago – their sacrifice, commitment, faith, devotion and love are expressed in this church building.”
Every item in the church, from the stained-glass windows to the baptismal font to the confessional “has a story to tell,” he said. “I can’t image the number of baptisms, first Holy Communions, Confirmations, marriages, Sacrament of Anointing and funerals that have taken place in this church. This is the place where our own people loved, cried, celebrated the most important moments of their lives.”
As the Mass began, a short history of the parish was read, acknowledging that the parish “reflects a mix of the many ethnic groups: French, Hispanic, Italian and Slovenian people make up the majority of the population.”
Another acknowledgement of that history came with the presentation of gifts. A miner’s lamp was brought forward, symbolizing that Jesus is the light of the world. Also brought forward were a shepherd’s crook to symbolize that the sheepherders who built the church realized that Jesus is the Good Shepherd; an image of Our Lady of Lourdes to symbolize the importance of Mary, the Mother of God, to those who built the church; and historical items to symbolize the generations who carried on the faith of those who built the church.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr. Silva, speaking on behalf of the bishop, noted that the event was “a celebration of each one of you, who has come here every day, every week, to nurture your faith.” He thanked those present “for your presence here in this church, for your smile, for your service, for your faith. The Church cannot be without you. So I want to thank you, each and every one of you, for being our parishioners, for being our friends and our family.”
At the dinner following the Mass, Hieromonk Seraphim presented an icon of Our Lady, Unfading Rose, to the parish, and diptychs for the bishop and to Fr. Dass David.
In his comments at the dinner, Fr. Hope said that the community has had some differences over the years, “but when things were tough, we all pulled together. And those who I baptized in the ’80s and married in the early 2000s and the ones who are now my ‘grandchildren,’ you are my family. And it’s been a privilege to spend 25 years of your 100 down here with you.”
Sister Frances, in her comments, said that “The Daughters of Charity are praying for you and have fond memories of the time that they spent here in Price, Utah.”
The June 20 events were the beginning of the centennial celebration. Among the other events planned to celebrate the parish’s 100 years are an Oktoberfest, a centennial rosary and candlelight procession, and a spiritual retreat at the first of the new year. Also in 2023, a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes is scheduled for the days preceding the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The parish also plans to distribute 100 trees to be planted for the centennial, among other events prior to the closing Mass on June 20, 2023. The closing celebrations will include a reenactment of the Lourdes story, placement of a time capsule, and publication of a souvenir book.
The parish has asked ministers who served there to send a letter about their time at Notre Dame Parish to put in the souvenir book.