History of St. James 2010 - Present
Betty Evans, long time Parishioner and St. James Church Historian since 1984, passed away on February 18th. Betty compiled a wealth of information regarding the history of St. James and we will forever be indebted to her for all her efforts and love that she put into our St. James Community. Deacon Al Turkovich was assigned to St. James Church by the Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing. Fr. Alan J. Wakefield appointed Bonnie Gurzenda as St. James Church Historian. We held a Day to Celebrate Faith and Family with Chris Padgett on April 24th. Parishioner Joyce Mullin started the St. James Prayer Shawl Ministry with help from Betty Miller, Arlene McLean, Betty Rodriguez and others. Shawls are made, prayed over, placed on the altar for all to use with some sent to other countries. The St. James Rectory underwent significant renovations during the summer completed by staff, parishioners, St. James Women’s Club, Knights of Columbus and other professionals. The Women’s Club purchased dishes, small appliances, linens, draperies, pots and pans, telephones, lamps and more. Automatic Door Openers were installed at the main entrance of the Church compliments of the Knights of Columbus, Mason Council # 9182. The first St. James Balloon Festival/ Camino of St. James Walk/Run was held on August 14th and 15th with balloon launches, glows, food, book sale, magic show, games, raffle and the walk/run. What is the Camino of St. James? The Camino de Santiago, also known as the way of St. James, is a medieval pilgrimage in northwest Spain that is still walked by millions of pilgrims and tourists today. It is a journey to Santiago de Compostela, where the tomb of the Apostle James the Greater is located. There are many routes to this final destination, but the Camino Frances, an 800K trip is the best known. According to legend, St. James had crossed the Mediterranean after Jesus' death and resurrection to preach in Spain. He then returned to Jerusalem, where he became one of the first Christian martyrs. After his death, a group of believers brought his remains to Spain to ensure they would not be desecrated. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, a pilgrimage to Santiago was a common form of penance in the middle Ages. Our 8K Run is commemorative of the 800 kilometer pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In June, Christopher Mumby was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. Fr. Alan J. Wakefield was given Senior Priest Status by the Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, and then retired from St. James on August 26th. Farewell receptions were held in his honor by the St. James Women’s Club and the Christian Service Commission. The Knights of Columbus also hosted a farewell party at the home of Duff and Martha Williams. Fr. Kusitino Cobona, (Fr. Kusi) was appointed Pastor by the Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing; on September 1st. Receptions after all the Masses on September 11 & 12 were held to welcome Fr. Kusi. Ruth Olney was hired as the Rectory Housekeeper. The Knights of Columbus, Council #9182, celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a Mass, Social Hour, Dinner and Program on November 13th. The Honoree was Charter Chaplin Fr. Kenneth McDonald (85-99). Past Chaplin, Fr. Alan J. Wakefield (99-10) was a special guest along with the new Council Chaplain Fr. Kusi. Five new benches were added to the Memorial/Meditation Garden with special dedications posted inside the gazebo: In Loving Memory of Jacob W. Robertson 2/17/80-6/20/2009; Robbie Allan Stevens 7/23/93-5/16/2010; In Loving Memory of the Deceased Members of Mason Council #9182. Changes were made to the Liturgy including using all metal vessels, wine poured during the Offertory and all vessels purified right after Communion. Agnes Marie Peek, the last Charter Member of St. James, passed away on April 21st.
The Knights of Columbus set an all-time record serving 6068 dinners during the Fish Fry season. They hosted the “Living Last Supper” reenactment on April 10th. Former St. James Administrator, Fr. Phil Gallagher (85) spent the Easter weekend with Fr. Kusi and our Church Community. Deacon Al and Helen Turkovich assumed the duties of the RCIA Program at St. James. In April, Paul S. Miller was appointed St. James Church Historian by Fr. Kusi. Paul appointed a “Historian Team” of Bonnie Gurzenda, Charli Heiler and Jay Jensen. On May 7 & 8 the St. James Renovation Fund was kicked off to raise funds for flooring, kneelers, painting and other Sanctuary improvements. The St. James Women’s Club held their women’s Banquet on May 11th. Music Director Gayle Pohl left St. James for a new position at St. Alphonsus in Grand Rapids on the Feast of Pentecost. She directed the combined choirs of the Men of Orpheus and the Flint Singing Knights on her last day. Long time Parishioner Islia Brandell celebrated her 90th birthday on June 12th with a surprise party in Keating Hall sponsored by her family. Food was provided by the Knights of Columbus Council #9182 and the Mason Optimists. We welcomed back Jan Krzesicki as our new Music Director on July 3rd. July 10th was pew moving day to make room for the Sanctuary renovations. Many hands completed the job in just over one hour plus setting up Cave Hall for the weekend Masses, setting up a Chapel in the Youth Room and stripping the walls and registers of the Sanctuary and gathering space for painting. Steve Harmon was the general supervisor of the Renovation Project with assistance from Chris Knudstrup, Shirley Grieve, Brian Dollman-Jersey and Fr. Kusi and the help of many not named here. Sanctuary tiling was about 90% complete on July 18th and the painting was started. A great crew moved the pews back to their general locations and then enjoyed pizza and fellowship. Several work meetings were subsequently held and many hands restored the furnishings in the newly renovated Sanctuary for weekend Masses on July 24th and 25th. Changes included new floor tile in the Sanctuary and gathering space, repositioning of the pews, new altar carpeting and wiring, the tabernacle moved to the center of the altar, new tile on the Baptismal Font, Father’s chair and the Lectern switching sides and new paint in the Sanctuary and gathering space. The St. James Community Festival was held August 13th and 14th with outdoor Island Masses, Hot Air Balloons, Camino of St. James 8K Run/5K Walk, food and beer tent, book and bake sale, games, music and dancing, Bingo, live auction and more. New Kneelers were installed in the Sanctuary on September 26th. On October 1st, Alison Burch assumed all responsibilities of the St. James Church Bulletin. Elizabeth Raymond, the last surviving signatory to the 1942 Petition to establish a Church in Mason, passed away on October 14th. Outdoor Stations of the Cross were installed in the St. James Memorial/Meditation Garden as an Eagle Scout project by Dan Rogers. The Stations were donated by Dr. Vincent Guarnaccia in memory of his late wife Ginny Guarnaccia and they were dedicated on November 1st. Fr. Kusi introduced the Commission Program to the Parish. The Commissions are: Education, Stewardship, Parish Life, Christian Service, Evangelization and Worship. All groups, organizations and activities at St. James are included in one of these umbrella Commissions. We celebrated the implementation of the new Roman Missal on the First Sunday of Advent. In December, the new Cross shaped see through Ambry, designed and constructed by Jim Marshall, was installed by Jim with assistance from Brian Dollman-Jersey and Chris Knudstrup.
The St. James Women’s Club and the Mason Knights of Columbus #9182 purchased a new Benediction Robe for Fr. Kusi in February. A training session conducted by Fr. Kusi and Deacon Tom Feiten for various St. James Ministries was held on March 10th introducing new formats and requirements for all Ministries during Mass. The Frontals with kneelers were installed in March completing the 2011 Church Renovation Project. Our Holy Oils, in new Holy Oil vessels, were presented at the Good Friday Service. The new vessels were donated by Vince Guarnaccia in memory of Ginny Guarnaccia, by Bonnie Gurzenda in memory of Walt Gurzenda and by Jim and Margaret Marshall in memory of James Marshall. Altar bells were reintroduced at St. James on Easter Sunday and they were donated by Charles and Pat Dadswell in memory of all the Dadswell family members. On April 13th the Mason Knights of Columbus #9182 hosted a Benefit Fish Fry for the St. Vincent de Paul Store that was destroyed by fire on December 18, 2011. The benefit raised $6,000 and a check presentation was made to St. Vincent DePaul Store on May 1st. Maintenance person David Schepis resigned his position at St. James. Gordon Terwilliger and Mike Hill will share maintenance responsibilities. Janet Mendez was elected Chairperson of the Pastoral Council. On June 14th St. James hosted the Lansing Area Catholic Council on Aging with a meeting, Mass, Luncheon and Fiji presentation by Fr. Kusi. At that program Earl Hagen, of Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc, presented Fr. Kusi and St. James Parish with a Pope Chart that is now hanging in the gathering space. Msgr. Fr. Raymond Goehring (76-80) was our guest Priest the weekend of July 14/15 and spoke on Mission Sunday in support of our Brothers and Sisters in New Guinea. He said St. James has sure changed a lot since 1980. Happy 75th Anniversary to the Diocese of Lansing. Fr. Joe (Iosevo Ratuvereseganirawa) Rector of the Cathedral in Suva, Fiji and longtime St. Johns College (1973) good friend of Fr. Kusi made an extended visit to St. James and surrounding Parishes. He is from Bua Province, second largest in Fiji and Fr. Kusi is from Taveuni Province (Garden Island), the third largest. The St. James Community Festival was held August 10-12 with Masses, music, Food booths, beer tent & grille, Play land, book sale, Karoke, Live and silent auctions, Hot Air Balloon launch & illume and our Camino of St. James 8K run/5 K walk. Virginia C. Birney, our oldest parishioner, passed away on August 30th at the age of 100. Generous St. James Parishioners supported the annual Turkey Drive for the Capital Area Community Services for over $3,000. Deacon Al Turkovich was appointed to continue the RCIA Program. Our new Gather Hymnals were introduced at the Masses on the weekend of December 1st & 2nd. Parishioners covered the cost by donations and dedications were placed in the front covers of the Hymnals. In December, new kitchen equipment was installed in Cave Hall including three new deep fryers, a new double stacking convection oven, new commercial hotplate burners and a new under counter refrigerator with work surface and cutting board all donated by the Knights of Columbus Mason Council #9182. December included a very successful Advent Project to build homes in Haiti and ended with a wonderful Christmas Season.
We started off the year with a contractor applying a fresh coat of paint to Cave Hall compliments of the Knights of Columbus Mason Council #9182. Several Staff and parishioners assisted by removing and then replacing many pictures and wall hangings. On January 18th the Knights sponsored a benefit Fish Fry in support of the Care Free Dental Clinic and raised over $4,100 for the Clinic. The Infant of Prague statue and display case (originally purchased in 1955) were moved to the Chapel by Gordon Terwilliger and Mike Hill and they also made repairs to the display case. On February 11, Pope Benedict the XVI told the cardinals that in order to govern "...both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter" effective February 28, 2013. Bishop Earl Boyea confirmed 16 St. James students on February 11th. Fr. Phil Gallagher (85) was Fr. Kusi’s guest and said the blessing at the 17th Annual Blackthorn Dinner Concert Fundraiser on February 16th. The Adult formation presented the Magic Carpet Theater and “At his Feet” on February 20th. The Evangelization Commission sponsored a bus trip to the Fr. Solanus Casey Center at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit as a Lenten Pilgrimage on March 6th. On March 13th, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope and took the name Francis. The St. James Women’s Club Rummage Sale was held on April 20th and netted $1,040. The 2013 St. James Pictorial Directory started with the taking of family portraits in May and June by Life Touch Studios. In June a Fiji Mission collection was taken and donated tools were prepared for shipment to Fiji in anticipation of the Fiji Mission Trip in August by Fr. Kusi and other Parishioners. The St. James Fish-N-Chips Festival & 8K/5K run/walk kicked off on Friday, August 9, with Fish-N-Chips by the Knight of Columbus, live Auction with Bill Sheridan, the Ralph DeVitto band Mixed Company in the beer tent, kids play land, book sale, bake sale and silent auction. Saturday included the Friday dinners and sales and Author/Speaker Steven Ray followed by an Island Style Outdoor Mass, Balloon launch and Illume, Bingo and bands in the beer tent. Sunday brought the big 8K/5K & Fun Runs, pancake breakfast; kids play land and wrapping up of the book and bake sales. Sunday Mass was at 11:00. On August 12th, Fr. Kusi, Jim & Margaret Marshall, Larry & Pam Prokop, Chris & Cathy Bradley, Tess Layman, Al Barr, Cynthia Ingle, Valerie Ingle, Greg Ingle, Sandy Sprague, Shelly Rariden, Mark Dyer and Jill Campbell from St. James Parish and from Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc, left on a Mission Trip to Fiji. They stayed on Taveuni, Fr. Kusi’s home Island, and then went to Nawi Village to do Mission work. Fr. Kusi said he wished that all of the St. James Parishioners were there to see the expressions on the faces of the people when they were given the Rosaries and the books and tools that were sent over from our Parish. Rose Robertson, Director of Faith Formation, retired from St. James at the end of August after 37 years in the ministry of Catechesis with the last 25 years as the Director of Faith Formation. Receptions were held for Rose after all Masses the weekend of September 28-29. On August 26th Brian Epkey, DRE at Queens in Jackson, took over as the Director of Faith Formation at St. James. On November 17th, Fr. Kusi and the group that went on the Mission Trip to Fiji made a presentation to the Parish on their trip and sponsored a pot luck dinner for anyone who wanted to participate. The Sanctuary Candle was moved from its temporary stand and fastened to the wall next to the tabernacle. On November 24th we celebrated the 100th birthday of former Parishioner Frank Selinsky with a party after the 11:00 Mass sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council #9182. In November and December, the Men’s and Women’s bathrooms located off the gathering space were totally remodeled and updated. St. James Parishioners donated over $5,000 to this year’s Advent Project to build homes in the Philippine Islands. We closed out the year with Mother Nature dealing us a severe ice storm on December 22nd with power outages and closings. We enjoyed wonderful Christmas Liturgies.
The New Year started out with a huge snow storm dropping up to fifteen inches of snow in the area with closings and power outages lasting up to ten days in some places. The Shop with Script Program was introduced to St. James Parishioners on January 26th by our Director of Faith Formation Brian Epkey. The Evangelization Commission sponsored a Meet the Pope Program on February 11th. Daniel Burch became an Eagle Scout on February 9th. Fr. Kusi and Brian Epkey introduced the new St. James Website (stjamesmason.org) at all Masses the weekend of February 15th and 16th. The Parish Life Commission sponsored a Family Fun Night on February 22nd. The old Sanctuary Bell used in the original Church building from 1954 to 1975 was installed in Cave Hall above the kitchen door. Fr. Kusi lead the first meeting of the Cell Leadership Program at St. James on March 6th. The training will continue through Lent. A group of St. James students attended a Middle School Rally at Jackson Lumen Christi High School on March 8th. The 18th Annual Blackthorn Dinner Concert Fundraiser was held on March 22nd with guest Priest Fr. William Lugger giving the invocation. Mason Knights of Columbus Council #9182 held a fundraising Fish Fry on March 28th and raised over $5,700.00 towards their “In a Heartbeat” Campaign to purchase an Ultrasound Machine for Pregnancy Services of Greater Lansing. An Open House and Dedication of the new Ultrasound Machine was held on July 27th in Lansing. New efficient LED lights were installed in the Sanctuary. The Photographic Shroud of Turin Display was at St. James on April 16th with Speaker Mr. Tony Chemiawski. We welcomed twenty new members into the Catholic Church and St. James at the Easter Vigil. Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized at Noon on April 27th and our Church bells rang for three minutes along with Church bells around the world. In June the St. James DSA goal was surpassed at over $50,000 which was 123% of our goal. The Cell Leadership Program small individual groups started meeting in May and Eight Groups were commissioned on Pentecost Sunday by Fr. Kusi. Brian Epkey, Director of Faith Formation, left his position at St. James the end of June to take a position at St. Mary’s in Charlotte. Long time Youth Ministers Martha Williams and Charlene Bodary retired effective the end of June. A Reception-Thank You-Farewell Party was held for them after all Masses the weekend of June 21st and 22nd. Thank you ladies for a job well done. Beth Lowman was hired as our new Youth Minister in June and was introduced at all Masses the weekend of June 21st & 22nd. Beth came to us from St. Gerard Parish in Lansing and has been living in Mason for about one year. The Mason Knights of Columbus Council #9182, the St. James Women’s Club and the generous Parishioners of St. James raised over $3,100.00 on the weekend of June 28th & 29th to purchase a new Chalice and Mass Kit for Fr. Kusi’s home parish of Holy Cross in Fiji for the celebration of their 150th Jubilee Anniversary. Maureen Stockwell was hired as our new Director of Faith Formation. The 5th Annual St. James Fish N Chips Festival and Run/Walk was held on August 9th & 10th with Fish Dinners, Children’s games, Book Sale, Bake Sale, Balloon Launch, Beer Tent and bands, followed by the 8k/5k Run Walk on Sunday morning and ending with an Island Mass in the big tent with Fr. Kusi. Sister Maureen Martin CSJ, moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to a rehabilitation Center and Retirement Sister House in Nazareth after more than 27 years at St. James Catholic Church. The St. James Website address was changed to [email protected]. Fr. Tuhairwe Godfrey, Pastor at our Sister Parish in Buseesa, Uganda, spent the week of August 25 through 31 at St. James. He was hosted by our International Outreach Ministry Committee and toured St. James Church and our grounds, several farms in the area and the Cathedral in Lansing plus many other stops and cookouts. He presided at all the Masses on the weekend and Meet and Greets were held after all Masses. Fr. Godfrey repeatedly thanked the International Outreach Ministry and St. James Parishioners for their wonderful generosity over the years. James Bartolacci was elected Pastoral Council Chairperson. The first Cell Rally was held at St. James on September 14th, with speaker Peter Herbeck. Sister Maureen Martin CSJ, along with three Sisters from Nazareth, attended the 11:00 Mass on October 26th as a farewell visit. A collection of over $2,000 was taken up at all three Masses and donated in her honor to Right to Life. Fr. Kusi celebrated the 30th Anniversary of his Ordination on November 30th with Mass, dinner and a program with 200 guests, friends and Parishioners attending. Guest Priests were Msgr. Richard Groshek, Fr. Santhiyagu Arockiyasami, Fr. Doug Osborn, Fr. Denis Spitzley, Fr. Charlie Irvin, Fr. Jim Eisele, Fr. Joe Kim, Fr. John Byers, Fr. Tom Thompson, Fr. Loane Sigarara, Fr. Matt Fedewa, Fr. Bill Koenigsknecht, Fr. Mike Petroski, Fr. Prabhu Lakra, Fr. Louis Ekka and Fr. Phil Schmitter. New security cameras and screens were installed at St. James. The annual Advent Project collection to build a home for a family in Haiti exceeded $6,400.00. Fr Kusi left for a visit home to Fiji after a wonderful Christmas Season. Fr. Phillip Gallagher, Administrator at St. James in 1985, passed away on June 23rd.
Fr. Kusi returned from Fiji in the middle of January. The annual Knights of Columbus Winter/Lenten Fish Fries started on January 23rd. The 19th annual “Blackthorn Dinner and Concert was held on February 28th. St. James staff introduced the St. James Cell phone App and assisted with loading it on cell phones on the weekend of March 7th & 8th. Our website was changed to stjamesmason.org. Fr. Kusi conducted a “Mass of Explanation” sponsored by the Knights of Columbus on March 12th. Seven new members of the Church were welcomed at St. James at the Easter Vigil on April 4th. Twenty two St. James children made their First Communion on April 19th. The Knights of Columbus held their annual “After the Fish Fry” Party on April 24th and invited all the new Parish Families to join them. Fr. Alan Wakefield (99-10) celebrated the 11:00 Mass on April 26th and then attended a party in his honor celebrating his 40th Anniversary of his ordination sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The DSA Drive exceeded our goal by achieving over 136% of the goal. The “Let’s Go Green” program was announced the weekend of May 2nd and 3rd by St. James Staff. This provides options for electronic regular offerings online. Fr. Kusi announced that he will be the Pastor at Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian Parish at Bunker Hill starting on October 1st and will continue at St. James as well. A new ice machine for Cave Hall was purchased by a St. James Parishioner, the Knights of Columbus and St. James Parish. Long time Parishioner Mary Glynn passed away at age 99 on May 12th. She crocheted the Altar cloth at St. James. Music Director Jan Krzesicki retired at the end of May and receptions were held for her after all Masses. Ballots were distributed and collected regarding new Mass times at St. James as we merge with St. Cornelius and Cyprian. Training meetings were held with all ministers at Mass to try and improve efficiency and save time so Mass can be completed within one hour. Fr. Larry Delaney, Director of the St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, passed away on June 7th. Fourteen St. James High School Seniors attended the Senior Mass and Breakfast on June 7th. New Music Ministers started at St. James, Stephen Chip Rumier on June 7th and Antoinette LaCinski on June 15th. Office Manager Vicky Martin retired from St. James after 21 years of service on June 30th. Receptions for her were held after all Masses the weekend of June 27th and 28th. A Special Collection for “Faith in Flint” was taken up the weekend of June 27th and 28th. Alison Burch was appointed to the position of Business Manager in the office at St. James. The new Website for St. James is stjamesmason.org The Offertory Collection method changed to passing the collection baskets back and forth through the pews the weekend of July 4th and 5th. The Camino of St. James 8k/5k race was held on August 9th. A video message screen was installed in the gathering space. In August, a new gold with blue trim Offertory Basket was introduced during all the Offertory Processions compliments of the Knights of Columbus #9182. In anticipation of the upcoming Clustering with Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, Fr. Kusi and Father Mike, exchanged places on August 16th. Fr. Tuhairwe Godfrey, Pastor at our Sister Parish in Buseesa, Uganda, spent the last week of August at St. James hosted by our International Outreach Ministry Committee. Over $8,000 was collected for our Sister Parish. Fr. Kusi announced the new Mass Schedule for the two Parishes. Four O’clock on Saturday at St. James, 7:30 AM Sunday at Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian and 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM at St. James. Pope Francis visited the United States on September22 with stops in New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia on his six day visit. Gina Orlando joined the St. James Office staff. A video projection system with two screens on either side of the Altar was installed at St. James and along with that the new position of Video Tech. A Parish Kick-off Retreat Day, with guest speaker Sr. Ann Shields, SGL, was held on September 26th with representatives from St. James and Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian attending. The official Clustering of the two Churches took place on October 1st. Bishop Povish Assembly K of C provided a free breakfast for our Veterans on Veterans Day at St. James. Knights of Columbus Council #9182 presented their first Magic Show on November 22nd. St. James Parishioners experienced an unseasonably warm Christmas Season and came through with donations to our Advent Project to build a house for a homeless family in Haiti exceeding $8,000.00. Christmas Eve Masses were the 4:00 Children’s Mass at St. James, 7:00 Christmas Eve Mass at Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian and Midnight Mass (10:00) at St. James.
The 31st Annual Knights of Columbus, Mason Council #9182, Winter/Lenten Fish Fries started on January 15th. The Sound system in Cave Hall was repaired in early February and works great. The Saturday Mass at 4:00 PM went from four Eucharistic Minister Stations to Eight Eucharistic Minister Stations. St. James Parishioners supported the collection to help the Flint Water Crisis with contributions exceeding $2,500.00. The Evangelization Commission handed out a free book for Lent, Rediscover Jesus, with a chapter for every day of Lent. The 20th Annual Blackthorn Dinner/Concert was held on February 27th. A Special Collection was taken on the weekend of February 27th & 28th and others bringing in over $22,000 for the Holy Cross Parish in Fiji following their devastating Cyclone on February 20, 2016. The clothing drive for Fiji just about filled the South Wing of Keating Hall. The Youth Ministry sponsored a Lenten Journey, Taste of Taize, to St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing on March 6th. St. James surpassed its 2016 DSA goal on March 14th just four weeks into the Pledge Drive. The final totals for the DSA Drive exceeded $50,000. Fr. Kusi announced that he passed his Citizenship Test on March 19th. A new, state of the art sound system was installed in the Sanctuary. Parishioner George Wygant, Major Retired, was appointed Lead Usher by Fr. Kusi. The Mason Ecumenical Good Friday Service was held at the Mason Methodist Church. It was announced that the evening collection was for the Holy Cross Parish and the Villages of Vuna and Navakawau, Fiji, surprising and overwhelming Fr. Kusi. Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses were held at 8:00 AM at Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian and 10:00 AM at St. James. The Fish Fry for Fiji benefit sponsored by Mason Council #9182, Knights of Columbus, was held on April 1st and brought in over $10,000 for Holy Cross Parish and the Villages of Vuna and Navakawau. Sixteen children made their First Communion on April 17th. St. James office staff and Parishioners pulled off a huge Surprise 60th Birthday Party for Fr. Kusi on April 30th after the 4:00 Mass. Fr. Kusi received a new set of Callaway Big Bertha irons, XB adjustable driver, Mac Daddy sand wedges and an Odyssey white hot putter. Many Parishioners also gave Fr. Kusi cards and best wishes. Food service was provided by the Mason Knights of Columbus #9182. On May 18th Fr. Kusi took the Oath of Citizenship in Grand Rapids and became a United States Citizen. The day started with breakfast at A&W with Parishioners and then on to Grand Rapids where other friends and Priests joined in. Fr. Kusi took the oath with 80 other new Citizens from 35 countries. A reception at City Limits, organized by Shirley Grieve, was attended by many Parishioners, friends and dignitaries. May 22nd was proclaimed “Fr. Kusitino Cobona Day” in the City of Mason. Gordon Terwilliger retired from St. James Maintenance Department. On May 22nd, Fr. Kusi’s Mother Merisiana and brother Lekesio arrived in Mason from Fiji for a three month visit. Twenty St. James High School Seniors graduated in June. Sunday Masses at St. James returned to 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. The Sunday Mass at Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian is 8:30 AM. On June 21st the Sea going 20 foot long container was loaded on a truck and started its journey to Fiji with love from St. James. This followed months of donations of clothing, shoes, towels and blankets, kitchen items, hand and power tools of all kinds, generators, and other equipment and building materials. Securing the container and leading the packing effort with his band of volunteers was Parishioner Gene Hentkowski. Beth Lowman, Youth Minister at St. James, resigned her position due to health concerns. The St. James Parish held an 86th birthday party and pot luck for Fr. Kusi’s mom Merisiana complete with Fijian style in the ground roasted pig and many Fijian dishes. Merisiana and Lekesio returned to Fiji on August 30th. The Witness to Hope Diocese of Lansing Capital Campaign kicked off at St. James on September 11th with Campaign Director Joe Citro. Heather Dunivon was hired as the new Youth Minister at St. James. Bishop Earl Boyea visited St. James on October 11th to discuss his vision for our Diocese and the Witness to Hope Campaign. Pete Barnum was elected chairperson of the Pastoral Council. Jim Marshall and Ron Iwaszkiewicz were appointed to continue the RCIA Program by Fr. Kusi. Tom Moran started his duties in the maintenance department. The St. James International Outreach Ministry and dedicated friends made and sold a record 366 apple pies. On November 12th, Fr. Kusi announced that the Witness to Hope Campaign had reached 120 % of the goal with 30 % parishioner participation. Spiritual Leaders appointed were Rose Robertson, Jim Marshal, Carol Demshuk and Bonnie Gurzenda. On December 8th the Witness to Hope Campaign had reached 170 % of the goal and grew to 176% by year end. Our Advent Project to build a house in Haiti for a homeless family brought in over $8,000. A video screen and projector were installed in Cave Hall and were used during the Christmas Masses accommodating an overflow attendance. St. James website is at stjamesmason.org. Fr. Brendan Ledwidge, Pastor at St. James from 1966 to 1971 passed away in Brighton, Michigan, on April 15th at the age of 93.
We enter this year by kicking off our 75th Anniversary Year and celebrating those who came before us. In January, 1942, Annabelle Clinton, President of the Catholic Women’s League, and Bill and Mary Meier, tired of traveling to Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian Catholic Church at Bunker Hill or traveling to Lansing every Sunday, met with a small group of Mason residents, namely the Catholic Women’s League members and other area residents and petitioned the Most Reverend Joseph H. Albers, Bishop of Lansing, for a Catholic Church in Mason, Michigan. Forty three Mason Area Catholics signed the petition. Part of the reasoning for a local church was gas rationing that was in effect due to the war effort and many people could not travel to services at Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church at Bunker Hill or drive to Lansing. The new Mission Church was named by the Most Reverend Joseph H. Albers, Bishop of Lansing and honors St. James the Greater, one of the twelve apostles, son of Zebedee and a fisherman. He is the patron saint of pilgrims, Spain, Guatemala and Nicaragua. His Feast Day is July 25th. The first Mass in the newly organized St. James Mission was celebrated by Fr. Charles Keating (Secretary to Bishop Albers) in the Chapel of the Ball Funeral Home on South Jefferson Street, Mason, Michigan, on December 25th, Christmas Day, at 10:30 AM with 75 in attendance. Fr. Keating celebrated Mass with the Mass Kit used by Bishop Albers while serving as a Chaplain in World War I. Adult altar boys were William Meier and Charles Schmitter. For the next twelve years, Jean Ball, from the Ball Funeral Home would make sure the Chapel was ready for Mass each Sunday. Fr. Keating called her his “Altar Boy”. Fr. Kusi experienced a miracle on January 6th as he departed for a two week vacation. His Delta plane was delayed prior to take off and once in flight, was diverted from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida to the Orlando Airport in Florida. This miracle kept him away from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport where a lone gunman killed five people and wounded six others at the Delta baggage claim area. The first monthly Youth Mass kicked off on January 21st. The 32nd Annual Knights of Columbus, Mason Council #9182, Winter/Lenten Fish Fries started on January 27th. The 21st annual Blackthorn concert and fundraiser was held on February 18th. The Oremus Series Learn How to pray started on February 23rd. Parishioner Charles Heiler came forward to Chair our 75th Anniversary Celebration. Parishioner Bonnie Gurzenda spoke at all Masses in early March explaining our 75th Anniversary Celebrations and inviting all Parishioners and groups to participate in some way during the year. A list of ideas and projects were presented to the Parish. The official “Kickoff” will be near the Feast of St. James on July 25th and will end on September 17th with a 10:30 AM Mass with Bishop Boyea and Fr. Kusi. A program and dinner will follow Mass. Bishop Earl Boyea confirmed 61 St. James and Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian students on March 27th. Parishioner Gordon Terwilliger graced the April cover of Faith Magazine including an inside story of his faith journey written by Parishioner Rose Robertson. On May 7th, St James celebrated the 60th anniversary of ordination of our former Priest Fr. Kenneth McDonald (85-99) and Bishop Emeritus Carl Mengeling with Mass, a program and luncheon sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council #9182. On May 26th Mason Council # 9182 received the Knights of Columbus, State of Michigan, Community Service Award at the Convention on Mackinac Island. The project was “Cyclone Winston, a Fiji relief project”. On hand to accept the award was Fr. Kusi, Grand Knight Larry Prokop, State Ceremonials Director Gene Murawski and Gene Hentkowski. St. James unveiled its new Logo and Mission statement the weekend of June 11th. The logo includes St. James, the scallop shell and our vision; Love God, Love People, Make Disciples. The Mission Statement is “We, the Catholic faith community of St. James, freely choose to respond to God the Father’s unconditional love by centering our lives in Christ through prayer and the Sacraments; welcoming and sharing our love with all people by being a missionary disciple of Jesus and open always to the guidance of the Holy Spirit”. Keating Hall was painted in March and received new carpeting in June along with the Administrative offices. Bishop Earl Boyea approved the appointment of Parishioner Dan Bishop to serve on the Board of Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties on June 28th. Fr. Kusi announced on July 15th-16th that Bishop Earl Boyea had declared him “incarnate” in the Diocese of Lansing. Fr. Tuhairwe Godfrey, Pastor of our Sister Parish in Buseesa, Uganda, started an extended visit to St. James and the Lansing area on July 12th He filled in for Fr. Kusi as he completed some Fiji Mission Appeals and lead the Mission Trip to Fiji. Fr. Kusi and his Mission group left for Fiji on August 1st. Parishioner Jeff Haueter received the “Sue Parsons Community Service Award” from the Mason Kiwanis Golden K Club on August 9th. The new St. James Logo Altar Cloth was installed on August 13th. Our 75th Anniversary celebration was held on September 17th. Prior to Mass, Betty Rodriguez placed the new veil on the tabernacle. Fr. Kusi welcomed Bishop Earl Boyea, Bishop of the Lansing Diocese, Fr. Raymond Goehring (76-80) Fr. Richard Groshek (84-85) Fr. Kenneth McDonald (85-99) Fr. Alan Wakefield (99-2010) Fr. James Shaver, Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, Fr. Philip Schmitter, St. James favorite son, Fr. Ioane Sigarara, Fr. Kusi’s nephew, Deacon Al Turkovich, Deacon Tom Feiten, the staffs and Pastoral Councils from St. James and Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian and a packed Sanctuary of Parishioners. During Mass, Bishop Earl Boyea installed Fr. Kusi as the Pastor of St. James Catholic Church. At the conclusion of Mass, a short program was held with comments from Fr. Kusi. A proclamation was read from the Governor and State Representatives for our 75th Anniversary. After dismissal, the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony in recognition of our 75th Anniversary. A catered and pot luck dinner was served and enjoyed by all. Our photographers were Dr. Larry and Pam Prokop and our videographer was Thomas Miller. On September 24th the early Sunday Mass time was changed from 9:00 am to 8:30 am to accommodate the Faith Formation classes in between Masses. Professional photographers took portrait pictures of St. James families in August and September for our St James 75th Anniversary Pictorial Directory. The Discovery Small Group program was introduced to our Parish and Mrs. Amber Zolc from Vancouver Canada provided four days of training on October 19th through 22nd. Small groups will be forming to carry out this program. The 7th annual Coats for Kids give away was held at St. James on October 28th. An All Saint’s pig roast, potluck and Ministerial Fair was held on October 29th. Gene Havens replaced Tom Moran on the maintenance staff. Fr. Kusi received verification that the 20 foot Sea going container shipped from St. James on June 21, 2016, finally reached Holy Cross Parish in Fiji after 17 months in transit and delays. And the People Rejoiced! The Grow and Go Lansing Diocese Program started on November 25/26th. Long time parishioner Frank Selinsky passed away at the age of 104 on November 30th. The Advent Project raised over $5,000 and was dedicated to supporting the National Knights of Columbus Program to resettle Christian Families in Iraq. St. James Parishioner Mary Knudstrup and a friend completed our 75th Anniversary Quilt and it is hanging in Cave Hall. We celebrated our 75th Anniversary Mass on Christmas Day. St. James Parish gifted all parishioners with the book, Perfectly Yourself, by Matthew Kelly in celebration of our 75th Anniversary.
Parishioners Sue Powers, Tess Layman, Robyn Sheely and Charles Heiler left for a mission trip to Uganda on January 4th. They visited with Fr. Godfrey, took field trips to local villages, observed projects assisted by our International Outreach Ministry, discussed new projects and micro loans. They returned on January 18th and in late April made a presentation to St. James discussing their visit. The Oremus Program returned to St. James. On February 5th, Bishop Earl Boyea held a town hall discussion with St. James Parishioners and Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian Parishioners regarding the upcoming merger of the two Parishes. This is a very personal and emotional transition for many from both Parishes. The meeting was informative, helpful and heated at times. The finality of the merger is here and this will be a difficult and prayerful year. A record setting 22nd Annual Blackthorn Dinner/Concert was held on March 3rd. Fr. Phil Schmitter, one of St. James Favorite Sons and Pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Flint, was awarded the Cecilia M. Turner Humanitarian Award by the Flint Branch of the NAACP. Long time St. James Parishioner Goldie O’Dell passed at the age of 100. The 2018 DSA Appeal started the weekend of April 21 &22 “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”. Mike Hill retired from his maintenance position at St. James. Fr. Kusi’s mother Merisiana and brother Lexio arrived in Mason from Fiji on May 7th for a three month visit. On May 15th Fr. Kusi held a meeting with the pastoral councils and commissions from both St. James and Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian regarding the upcoming merger of the two churches. From that meeting came two proposed name changes for our new faith community. The choices were the Catholic Community of St. James, Cornelius & Cyprian or the Blessed Trinity Catholic Community. Parishioners started voting on these options on May 19th. The first joint bulletin for St. James Catholic Church and Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church was issued the weekend of May 19-20 and contained this letter from Fr. Kusi: Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Greetings of joy and peace to you all on this Pentecost Sunday! Pentecost is a conclusion and a beginning. It concludes the mission of the Son of God upon this earth in his humanity, but it also marks the beginning of the life and mission of Christ in his Church. The Church is now his Body, his Mystical Body, filled with the life of his Holy Spirit, which is the soul of the Church. Pentecost 2018 will be a significant event in the life of our two parishes of St. James Parish, Mason and of Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian Parish, Leslie. It will mark the conclusion of two parishes and the beginning of a new Catholic faith community; building one “new parish” with two sites. Our two parishes will merge led by one Pastor, served by one staff, one Pastoral Council, one Finance Council, one bulletin and one website. The Mass schedules will be set such that one priest is capable of celebrating liturgies as scheduled at both sites. All ministries will be evaluated and new or needed ministries will be discussed and eventually initiated. Staffing may be determined when the ministries needed in the “new parish” have been determined. Religious Education, Sacramental programs and formational programs will be integrated as soon as possible. We will all be affected by this merging process, some will resist the changes, some will opt out and some will embrace the challenges but I implore you all to heed the message from the Diocese of Buffalo: “When parishes are merged, two or more parishes become a single worshipping community. Parish boundaries are redrawn and a new canonical entity is formed. Two or more parishes, rich in tradition, come together in peace and love to form a new faith community, deriving its strength from the gifts of the former communities. And this new combination, this new reality, will give birth to new gifts and deeper faith.” May this Pentecost be a whole new beginning for all of us guided always by the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit! Building a New Parish Community Transition Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your wisdom is beyond our understanding; surround us with your love, so that we may not be overwhelmed by our loss. Let us find comfort in our sadness, certainty in our doubt, courage to live through this difficult time and strength to meet the days to come. We hope these months of preparation will find us open to new possibilities that will unite us as one faith community, so that we may pray, worship and serve one another in your Name. May the richness, diversity and gifts of our people be treasured and used as we become one in the Body of Christ. Let us view this moment of change and renewal, not as a threat to what has been, but as an invitation to build up the foundation which has been given to us: a vibrant, new community of faith, united in mission and dedicated ever more to the fruitful building up of your Kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen. On June 8th, Earl Boyea, Bishop of the Lansing Diocese issued the EPISCOPUS LANSINGENSIS DIVINA MISERATIONE ET APOSTOLICA SEDIS GRATIA officially merging St. James and Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian Catholic Churches into The Catholic Community of Saints James, Cornelius and Cyprian effective July 1, 2018. It was presented to both parishes on June 16th and 17th. Bonnie Gurzenda was elected chairperson of the Christian Service Commission. Former St. James parishioner, favorite son, and now a Catholic Priest, Fr. Michael Jacobus celebrated the 10th Anniversary of his ordination at a party held in his honor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Ontonagon, Michigan. Fr. Michael serves Holy Family and two other area parishes. St. James parishioners Paul and Terri Miller attended the celebration with Fr. Michael, his mother Nancy, dad Michael and Pam and many guests. Vacation Bible School, Rolling River Rampage, was held June 25-28 with 70 children attending and 55 helpers assisting them. The first Masses of “The Catholic Community of Sts. James, Cornelius and Cyprian were held on July 1st. The new pastoral council is chaired by Pete Barnum and vice chair Eileen Hunter. The new finance council is co-chaired by Erin Flood and Gary Smith. The 9th annual Camino of St. James 8k/5k walk and run was held on August 12th. The annual Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian Parish picnic was held on August 19th at Bunker Hill. Many parishioners attended the procession, program and Mass at the Diocese of Lansing “Made for Happiness Assembly” at the Breslin Center on September 22nd. The new Mass Schedule started on September 30th with Saturday Mass at St. James at 4:00 PM, Sunday Mass, 8:30 AM at Bunker Hill and Sunday Mass 10:30 AM at St. James. On October 13th a pig roast and Fr. Kusi roast was held at St. James and a good time was had by all whom attended. The Knights and the Angels sponsored a reception for Fr. Kusi after the 4:00 Mass on December 1st on the occasion of his 34th anniversary of his ordination. Long time parishioner Betty Guerriero passed away at age 98. The Advent Project this year raised $5,000 in support of the survivors of hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. Christmas Eve Masses were held at 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM at St. James and 7:00 PM at Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian. The Catholic Community of St. James, Cornelius & Cyprian gifted all parishioners with the book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity, by Matthew Kelly.