Yulan’s St. Anthony of Padua Church, Parish Celebrate 100 Years

Octavio Duran In the Headlines

YULAN, N.Y. — Dark skies and heavy rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of many parishioners eager to celebrate with His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan of the New York Archdiocese the 100th anniversary of St. Anthony of Padua Church here.

Cardinal Egan, the main celebrant at this special Mass, was welcomed by the local authorities who had arranged the display of several police trooper cars with flashing lights in front of the church.

“I don’t think the governor gets this kind of attention,” said Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, upon arriving at the friary.

Due to the rain, necessary arrangements were made while waiting for the arrival of the cardinal.  A set of volunteers was ready to escort the cardinal under large umbrellas.  The audio speakers set in front of the lawn were brought inside, and there was no need to use the pavilion behind the church to accommodate additional worshipers.

Once all the celebrants were vested at the friary and ready to move to the church, the rain stopped, and the sunshine broke through, and was with us for the rest of the morning.

“I had to make a deal with St. Anthony,” said pastor Anthony Moore, OFM, who has served the parish for many years, saying that part of the deal was to celebrate a Mass the following day in honor of St. Anthony. “St. Anthony came through and so will I,” Anthony said.

Anthony had served the Yulan parish as pastor from 1973 to 1977 before returning to the parish in 2002.

Carrying two flags, of the United States and the Vatican, the fourth degree Knights of Columbus led a procession from the friary to the church.

Clergy and other religious from surrounding parishes celebrated the liturgy including Anthony McGuireOFM, Evan GrecoOFM, former pastor of St. Anthony; John “Gus” Richardson, OFM, pastor of St. Mary’s in Obernburg, N.Y.; and Leon RistucciaOFM, who also had served in Sullivan County and, from time to time, helps on weekends at St. Anthony.

The small church was filled with approximately 200 worshipers, whom the cardinal addressed without using a microphone. “The Lord has blessed me with a strong voice,” said the cardinal who walked back and forth in the aisle while delivering his homily. Cardinal Egan pointed out the importance of the parish for the community.

“You and I come together to hear the Lord as a community. We need each other to strengthen our faith,” said the cardinal, at the same time recognizing the ministry of the previous friars who have been taking care of the spiritual needs of the parishioners. ” The Franciscan fathers should be very proud of this church here today, as we celebrate Mass, and it is being celebrated in the way God would want us to,” Cardinal Egan added.

The church was founded in 1907 by the Province which has a strong history in this rural area of the archdiocese, approximately 90 miles from Manhattan. Until 1977, the Province conducted a seminary at nearby Callicoon, N.Y.

“Every human being is a mirror of the Divinity, every human being is an image of God and we are in his care every day,” the cardinal said, thanking attendees for being part of the parish asking them to be apostles bringing the Good news to others. “You will be back in one hundred years, if not sooner,” the cardinal concluded.

Before the final blessing, John also thanked the community for its commitment and support to the friars, and went on to present the Province’s Francis Medal to 22 parish members who have shown their care for the community in the spirit of St. Francis. Carl Hentschel, the oldest member of the parish, who will be celebrating his 100th birthday this summer; and Mr. and Mrs. Chet Oset, both of whom have lived in the parish for more than 80 years were the first to received the medal.

The celebration continued with a luncheon at the Carriage House restaurant in Barryville, N.Y. After raising a toast to the parish, the pastor and the Holy Father, the cardinal explained to the packed dining room that he had to get back to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for a Mass with the Puerto Rican community.

The celebration of the Yulan church’s centennial was featured in the June 7 issue of Catholic New York, the bi-weekly publication of the New York Archdioese, with a cover story and an essay by Edward Cardinal Egan.

 — Br. Octavio is a member of the staff of the Province’s communications office.