St. Joseph Community celebration 25 years of growth, diversity, and countless blessings

Story and Photos by Donna Ryckaert

Correspondent

North Texas Catholic

May 15, 2013

25th anniversary committee members, Sandra Mitchell Delores Sutton Ann Gowdy Mary Harvy Diane Ashour

St. Jospeh Parish's 25th anniversary committee members Sandra Mitchell, Delores Sutton, Ann Gowdy, Mary Harvy, and Diane Ashour participate in the Mass opening the celebration on March 19. (Photo by Donna Ryckaert)

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Longtime Arlington residents Paul and Beverly Windsor still recall the sense of comforting familiarity they experienced in 1989 when they first encountered the community now known as St. Joseph Church in Arlington.

The couple had previously served as volunteer adult mentors within the Catholic student community at the University of Texas in Arlington. Then they learned that a new parish was forming in the area. The Windsors met Father James Miller, the founding pastor of the emerging faith community, and discovered an immediate connection. They appreciated his family-like approach to parish life, says Beverly. “Fr. Jim told us that this church was like our home, and we were to take care of it like it was ours,” she recalls. “[He told us]”If you see trash, pick it up. If you see a weed, pull it.”

Twenty-four years later, the Windsors continue to serve as volunteers within the well-established parish community at 1927 SW Green Oaks Blvd. in South Arlington.

Fr. Miller, known affectionately as “Father Jim,” was appointed by Bishop Joseph Delaney to serve as the first pastor of the community on July 1, 1988. The beloved priest celebrated the emerging Catholic community’s first Mass at their temporary home, Key Elementary School in Arlington, on Sept. 4 with approximately 90 parishioners in attendance. On Oct. 16, the Sunday Mass was moved to Bebensee Elementary School in Arlington. Parish committees were formed and planning for construction of a church began.

Two years later a chapel and multipurpose building were completed. Mass was celebrated there for the next decade until June 24, 2000, when Bishop Delaney dedicated the current church. The church now seats 1,600 people and features soaring ceilings with high stained-glass windows that paint the church interior with warm colored light.

In almost 25 years, the parish has grown into an internationally diverse community of more than 3,200.

St. Joseph’s community has planned an anniversary year of celebrations that began with an opening Mass celebrated by pastor Father Daniel Kelley March 19, the feast day of the church’s patron saint, St. Joseph. The opening procession included former pastors and staff members from the church and school, representatives of various councils and committees, and members of the Knights of Columbus. Colored banners were brought forward by representatives from the procession and displayed on the altar prior to the homily. Fr. Kelley then introduced the gathered leadership, and also offered praise for the founding members of the parish. “We are a diverse community, with members from all over the world,” he reminded the congregation. “We are the body of Christ… together we will continue to make St. Joseph’s thrive and grow.”

The Prayers of the Faithful gave evidence of that diversity as they were spoken in seven languages: English, Spanish, French, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Vietnamese, and Filipino. The Nigerian and Ghanaian communities participated in the offertory by presenting baskets of food, gifts for the needy of the parish.

The anniversary Mass was followed by a reception, featuring refreshments and shared memories. Rich and Peggy Singleton, parishioners since1993, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to reflect on the blessings of the past several years within their faith community.

When asked what brought the couple to St. Joseph’s, Rich recalled the spirit of those early days of the parish. “The people…. and Father Jim,” he said, simply. “I just felt like I belonged, from the very first time I went.”

Longtime Arlington residents Paul and Beverly Windsor still recall the sense of comforting familiarity they experienced in 1989 when they first encountered the community now known as St. Joseph Church in Arlington.

Published (until 12/31/2013)
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