NARROWSBURG, N.Y. — Crystalline blue skies hovered over St. Francis Xavier Church on Aug. 26 as parishioners celebrated the church’s 150th anniversary. More than 200 people — including Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, and friars stationed in Sullivan County, N.Y. — attended the event.
St. Francis Xavier is one of the Province’s earliest New York churches. The area is rich with Franciscan tradition, with more than 100 friars having served in Western Sullivan County since the late 1800s, according to an HNP Today article.
The commemoration began with an 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan. A picnic on the banks of the Delaware River followed.
John was introduced to many of the people in the Narrowsburg parish, as well as to parishioners from other area churches. People from the Province’s former parish in West Milford, NJ., where William Scully, OFM, pastor of St. Francis Xavier, was pastor for many years, also participated in the celebration.
“It was very clear from my visit that the people love the friars,” John said. “I heard from them — as I have heard on many occasions on my visits to our ministries — ‘please do not ever leave us.’”
Cardinal Dolan, clad in suspenders and a straw hat as shown in the photo, also expressed his deep gratitude on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York for the friars’ many years of service and made a point of telling people of “the great work that the friars do in the parishes of Sullivan County,” John said.
In a Sullivan County Democrat article, William noted how proud he felt to head the parish, and how grateful to the community that continues to support the church.
Parishioners praised William for “his care and concern, his humor and his humility.”
“Father Scully has a way of taking you in and keeping you there,” said Claire Tinari, parishoner.
St. Francis Xavier is one of four parishes in Sullivan County staffed by the friars. The others are Holy Cross Church in Callicoon, St. Mary Church in Obernburg, and St. Anthony of Padua Church in Yulan.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.