History of St. James 2019 - 2021


On February 9th Fr. Kusi called for a Parish Assembly starting with Mass and then small table group discussions and refreshments. This introduced the book Divine Renovation and the concept of bringing our parish from a maintenance church to a mission church. Sts Cornelius & Cyprian held their annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner on March 16th. The first combined Saints JC&C DSA pledge drive kicked off on March 16th with a goal of $57,812. The goal was achieved in early July. The 23rd Annual “Blackthorn” concert/fundraiser was held on March 23rd. The first combined Parish Directory was published in April for the Catholic Community of Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian. The RCIA Class of 2019 included four members and was lead by Jim Marshall and Ron Iwaszkiewicz. A special Mass was held on April 28th at 8:30 AM at St. James due to the large number of communicants this year. A walking Rosary Group was formed at St. James and they meet Saturday mornings at 8:00 AM. The Knights Angels created a cookbook with recipes gathered from Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian parishioners and sold them as a fundraiser for their group. After the 10:30 AM Mass on June 9th, a group of parishioners removed everything out of the Ambo and pulled up all the old carpet and trim. On June 10th, a construction crew directed by parishioner Ted Burch started laying a new hardwood floor including new reinforcement edging and final trim. The project took five days to complete thanks to the crew of parishioners Alison Burch, Rebecca Burch, Jim Marshall, Bob McCormick, Chris Knudstrup, Jerry O’Shesky, Roger Madsen, Pat Morrison, Paul Miller and Tony Igl with Ron Wieferich reworking the electrical and sound system wiring. A cleanup crew and resetting crew had everything cleaned and ready to go for a funeral on Saturday morning and Mass in the evening. Vacation Bible school was held June 24th to 26th and sled into an “ice” summer experience! At the Polar Blast kids chilled with new friends and warmed up to Jesus—the coolest friend of all. We participated with the Mason First Presbyterian, Mason First United Methodist and All Saints Lutheran churches for the 5th year. We hosted over 65 children. Eleven Community of Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian Youth and leaders attended the Steubenville Youth Conference on June 28th, 29th & 30th. The “33 Days to Morning Glory” small group retreat started on July 13th. Deacon Tom Feiten was granted Senior Deacon Status by Bishop Earl Boyea and has retired. A “Thank You” and Roast party, hosted by Parishioners Pat and Irene Morrison with special guest Bishop Emeritus Carl Mengeling, was given in his honor on July 20th. Deacon Tom was ordained a Deacon on May 20, 2000 and assigned to St. James. On July 28th, all parishioners were gifted with the book “Letter to a Suffering Church” by Bishop Robert Barron. The Alpha Program started at St. James on September 18 and ended on December 11th. Alpha helps you create an environment where you can bring your friends, family, and work colleagues to explore the Christian faith, ask questions, and share points of view. Alpha’s approach—stressing hospitality, faith, and discussion—is designed to make it easy for you to welcome everyone, including those who might not describe themselves as Christians or churchgoers. Each session includes time for a large group meal, short teaching, and small group discussion to help you have spiritual conversations with others that explore life’s biggest questions in a safe and respectful way. The group met every Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Between 65-70 folks met each week in the initial session. In October all the large overgrown trees in the Memorial/Meditation Garden were removed and other tree trimming was completed at that time. On November 15th, Fr. Kusi left on a two week visit to Rome. This was the first time he had visited Rome. In November, parishioner Ted Burch installed a shelf on the wall near the Chapel and Mary and Joseph reside there. Fr. Kusi introduced the Senior Leadership Team and that started the Divine Renovation Program at Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian. Team members were Heather Dunivon, Gary Smith, James Marshall and George Wygant. In December, parishioners Howard Ehresman and wife Vickie built a glass case for Mary and it is mounted in the Chapel. The Advent Project collected just over $6,000.00 to build a house for a poor family. The Catholic Community of Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian gifted all parishioners with the book, Rediscover the Saints by Mathew Kelly. There was no snow for Christmas and to end the decade.


The second Alpha Program started on January 13th filled to capacity. This session met on Monday nights at St. James. The Knights of Columbus sponsored a New Family information dinner and program on the 18th. Several Commission leaders spoke of all the opportunities open to parishioners at Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian. Fr. Kusi spoke about the Divine Renovation Program and other topics. Sister Maureen Martin CSJ. passed away on January 20thA Memorial Mass for Sr. Maureen Martin was held on Friday, January 31, at 11:00 a.m. at St. James. Fr. Kusi and Fr. Alan Wakefield concelebrated the Mass. Contributions were collected in her honor and sent to Michigan Right to Life and the Sisters of St. Joseph Community in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Knights of Columbus Council #9182 Winter/Lenten Fish Fry on January 31st was held in her honor. All parishioners, 18 years and older, were requested to fill out the Disciple Maker Index Survey for the Diocese of Lansing in February. A heating and cooling system upgrade was completed at St. James. The parish bulletin was modified the weekend of February 22nd and 23rd to include the Senior Leadership Team and to include the various Commissions. Gene Havens resigned his maintenance position at St. James. On March 11th, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was declared a worldwide pandemic. Worldwide travel restrictions were imposed along with large group gatherings and sporting event venues with no fans in the stands. Locally, handshakes were discouraged, no communion from the chalice and stay home if someone had symptoms of a cold, cough or flu. The Church was sanitized before every Mass. On March 12th the governor of Michigan ordered all schools in Michigan be closed for three weeks. Any event with over 250 participants was also banned. The annual Blackthorn dinner/concert was postponed to a later date. The restrictions escalated and the Knights of Columbus Fish Fries were cancelled followed by the cancellation of all Masses and groups over 10 people. Restaurants and service industries were ordered closed. Only essential businesses could stay open and only essential workers could go to work.  All parishioners were encouraged to do home prayers and watch the Outreach Mass on TV. On March 23rd, the Governor issued a mandatory stay at home order for three weeks. By the end of March it was determined that Michigan schools would likely not resume classes this school year. Then the President extended the requirements to stay home, wash hands and use social distancing until the end of April. The Governor then declared that all schools would remain closed until the end of the school semester. In April, during the pandemic, parishioners Amber McRay, Anna McRay, Andrew McRay, Margret Weyer, Tom Murawski, Charles Leibrand and Boy Scout Troop #141, with guidance from Charlie Heiler, began extensive work in the Memorial/Meditation Garden. It was Anna’s dream to make it look like the garden of her childhood. They trimmed, pulled weeds, repaired fencing, cleaned the cobblestone sidewalks, painted benches, cut and chipped dead trees and brush and spread many yards of mulch. In preparation of Holy Week, we had an opportunity to pick up palms at a drive up table outside of church. On Palm Sunday, parishioner George Wygant hosted an evening Rosary online using zoom technology with 40 families connected. The Diocese of Lansing offered online Masses and prayerful events along with the Friday Memo from Bishop Boyea. On Holy Thursday we had “40 minutes with Fr. Kusi'' on Zoom with 80 connections and about 200 parishioners. Easter Sunday Mass was available with Fr. Kusi via Zoom along with Sunday Masses through May 10th. On May 3rd, parishioners and friends gave Fr. Kusi a 107 car “Happy Birthday” parade past the rectory. Starting May 17th, the new church computer was used to broadcast Sunday Masses via YouTube and live steaming while improving quality. In May, friends of parishioner Amber McRay, Bill, Natalie, Samantha and 12 year old Thomas Trotter, took on the job of repairing and restoring the Stations of the Cross in the Memorial/Meditation Garden. This proved too costly so Amber and daughter Anna decided to purchase new Stations of the Cross and they were installed. The St. James Women’s Club stepped forward and paid for the new set. The governor extended the stay at home order until the end of May and Bishop Boyea directed that Sunday Masses would not resume until June 1st. Fr. Kusi and the Senior leadership team conducted a training session for parishioners wanting to assist with the reopening of the church. Participants signed up for: Covid-19 precautions, cleaning, & PPE team (responsible for all health & safety concerns & new procedures), the Welcome committee (responsible for communication, marketing, registration, check-in, & greeting) and they could also sign up for the Mass team (Ministers needed during Mass). The state stay at home order was lifted on June 8th but masks and social distancing were still required. Fr. Kusi opened Friday Mass and Adoration on June 12th through the end of the month. On June 14th, the Senior Class of 2020 drive by parade was held at the Mason campus and then on to the Leslie campus where a cupcake party and recognition program took place for our Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian graduating seniors. WELCOME BACK TO MASS. Pandemic realities needed to return to Mass: Take temperate at home, more than 100° or persistent cough, please stay home. Wear a mask before, during, and after Mass. Mask wearing is about infection control. Sanitize hands. Continue a no touch practice. All doors will be propped open. Practice social distancing 6’ in the parking lot /church with people who do not live with you. Ushers will assist with seating instructions for distancing purposes. No hymnals/worship aids, no communal singing as it carries heightened risk of infections. No exchange of signs of peace. Only sacred host will be distributed in hand. Pay close attention to instructions and markings for the distribution of Holy Communion. Sanitized hands only, pull mask down right before receiving the sacred host, replace mask before proceeding back to your pew. No distribution of bulletins. Please read them on our website. No collection basket will be passed. You may drop your envelope/money in containers on your way in or out of Mass. No gatherings in the church lobby or parking lot and please be aware of your proximity to others. Several staff changes were made with Alison Burch resigning as Business Manager and Bonnie Sweet taking her place. Heather Dunivon accepted the position of Evangelization and Outreach Coordinator and Nicole Retz accepted the position of Youth Minister. All regular Mass times opened up on July 4th and 5th with limited seating, required registration, masks and social distancing requirements. Sunday Masses from both locations were live streamed. A huge thank you goes out to parishioner Gary Smith who spent countless hours developing and installing cameras and video equipment at both campuses to allow live streaming for all Masses and special events. His ministry has allowed so many homebound parishioners to participate live with Father Kusi and Deacon Chuong in weekend Masses, first communions, special services and holy days of obligation Mass. Deacon Chuong Nguyen was assigned to Saints James, Cornelius & Cyprian in August after the closing of Saint Casimir Catholic Church in Lansing. In September, the Mason Knights of Columbus held their first ever drive thru fish fries. The first three were for council charities and the second three benefited the International Outreach Ministry.  Michael Offenbacher accepted the full time maintenance position for both campuses. Long time parishioner and fund raiser extraordinaire Shirley Grieve, passed away on December 5th. There was good news that several immunization vaccines for the Corona virus would be approved soon and the distribution would start in December. The Advent Project and collection proceeds went to build a home in Haiti. For Christmas, all parishioners were given a bundle containing music by the Vigil Project, reflections by Fr. Dave Pivonka and a devotion companion booklet for the family. Goodbye 2020.


“So today I wish you Happy New Year with a blessing from the Lord Himself to Moses that these people were about to prepare to go on a long journey and Jesus gives this blessing to Moses to say to them; May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace”. Fr. Kusi. Masses were still limited to twenty-five percent capacity in January with social distancing required. Many meetings and events were held on zoom. Vaccinations for Covid-19 were ramping up after a slow start. We began this new year with the gift of a book called The Search by Chris Stephanick through the Augustine Institute under Formed.org. During the first week of Lent we were invited to watch Fr. Chris Alar on Explaining the Faith. He is also on Formed.org. It is very important for Catholics to know the symbolic meaning of what we do at Mass, why we make the sign of the cross, why we stand, sit, kneel, genuflect, bow, etc. The old split rail fence around the Memorial/Meditation Garden was removed and vehicle curb stops were installed around the perimeter. Holy Water automatic misters were installed at the doors of the sanctuary replacing the old Holy Water fonts. We continued Lent with Formed.org to watch The Forgiveness videos and learn more about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Mason Council #9182 Knights of Columbus started their ten week run with the Winter/Lenten Drive Thru Fish Fries on February 19th. Deacon Choung led the Stations of the Cross and adoration during Lent with Fr. Kusi hearing confessions during those program times. The third Covid-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, was approved for distribution on February 27th. The Icon of the Devine Mercy, donated by Mason Council #9182 Knights of Columbus, was affixed in the Ambo above the Tabernacle on March 25th.  Mass capacity was increased to 50%. After Easter, we continued Formed.org and watched the videos on The Presence. In these series, we learned and studied more about the Mass. The second Sunday of Easter is also called the Divine Mercy Sunday and Fr. Kusi formally introduced this devotion to the parish. Sara Goodman joined the office staff as an administrative Assistant. Bishop Boyea called all parishioners back to Mass starting with Pentecost Sunday as the dispensation to attend Mass expired. At St. James, one half of the pews will continue with social distancing marking and one half are open seating. Masks were still required. The Church fully reopened in June. Gina Orlando resigned her administrative assistant position at St. James. Father Kusi placed emphasis on prayer and more prayer and there were many opportunities at both campuses for praying the Rosary and the Divine Chaplet. The social halls remained closed to larger groups and dinners.

Our goal is to have our St. James Campus Historical information as accurate as possible. If you find errors, or have additional information regarding our history, please send to [email protected] or drop off at the Parish Office. 

This time line is dedicated to the memory of Betty Evans, long time St. James Parishioner and St. James Historian who passed away on February 18, 2010. Without her many years of collecting and compiling our Church history, much of this time line and its details would not have been possible.                                                                                                                      

Our Priests and Service Dates

Msgr. Fr. Charles Keating                               December 1942 – July 1955

Fr. Paul J. DeRose                                                        July 1955 – June 1957

Fr. James W. Lee                                                        June 1957 – January 1963

Fr. William J. Rademacher                                January 1963 – August 1966

Fr. Brendan K. Ledwidge                                     August 1966 – June 1971

Fr. George B. Zabelka                                              June 1971 – January 1976

Msgr. Fr. Raymond Goehring                         February 1976 – March 1980

Msgr. Fr. William F. Meyers                                   May 1980 – June 1984

Fr. William J. McKeon                                       January 1983 – June 1983

Msgr. Fr. Richard Groshek                                       July 1984 – January 1985

Fr. Phillip Gallagher                                            January 1985 – June 1985

Fr. Kenneth McDonald                                             June 1985 – June 1999

Fr. Alan J. Wakefield                                                 June 1999 – August 2010

Fr. Kusitino Cobona, (Fr. Kusi)                     September 2010 – 


Our “Favorite Sons”

Fr. Phil Schmitter                                       Ordained December 28, 1971

Deacon Gordon Kilburn                            Ordained September 29, 1984

Deacon Tom Feiten                                   Ordained May 20, 2000

Deacon Vince Guarnaccia   RIP Ordained May 20, 2000  

Fr. Michael Jacobus                                    Ordained June 6, 2008


Our Religious and Lay Ministers

Sister M. Helen Ballard OP                        School Principal 1957-1963

Sister Immaculate Marie OP   Assistant Principal 1957-1961 & 1963-1970

Sister Dorothy Marie Beers OP                 Teacher 1958-1959

Sister M. Bartholomew Kitko OP              Teacher 1959-1960

Sister Raphael Marie OP                             Teacher 1959-1960

Sister Marian Therese OP                           Teacher 1960-1962

Sister Ann Laudine OP                                 Teacher 1961-1966

Sister Jean Raymond OP                             Teacher 1962-1965

Sister M. Bartholemew Kitko OP              School Principal 1963-1970

Sister John Kiera OP                                     Teacher 1965-1966

Sister Peter Elaine OP                                  Teacher 1966-1968

Sister Joseph Helen OP                                Teacher 1967-1968

Sister Rose Edward OP                                 Teacher 1968-1970

Sister Helen Smith S.N.D                      Parish Coordinator 1972-1976

Sister Maureen Martin CSJ                  Parish Ministries 1987–2014

Virginia Guarnaccia Commissioned Ecclesial Lay Minister          1997

Rose Robertson              Commissioned Ecclesial Lay Minister              2002

Barb White                      Commissioned Ecclesial Lay Minister              2002

Marie Sheridan               Commissioned Ecclesial Lay Minister              2006

Gordon Kilburn                                      Deacon 1984-1993

Thomas Feiten                                       Deacon 2000-2019

Al Turkovich                                           Deacon 2010-Present


Bishops of the Diocese of Lansing
The Diocese of Lansing was created on May 22, 1937, by Proclamation from Pope Pius XI and included parts of the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Archdiocese of Grand Rapids. Most Reverend Joseph H. Albers of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was appointed first Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing on May 26, 1937, and served until his death on December 1, 1965.

Most Reverend Alexander M. Zaleski of the Archdiocese of Detroit became the second Bishop of Lansing on October 7, 1967 and served until his death on May 16, 1975.

Most Reverend Kenneth J. Povish of the Diocese of Crookston became the third Bishop of Lansing in 1975 and served until his retirement in 1995. He died September 5, 2003.

Monsignor Carl F. Mengeling of the Diocese of Gary Indiana became the fourth Bishop of Lansing upon ordination and installation on January 25, 1996 and served until his retirement February 27, 2008.

Most Reverend Earl Boyea of the Archdiocese of Detroit became the fifth Bishop of Lansing on April 29, 2008.

                                                                                                                          Revised 12/11/2020

St. James Catholic Church Historian Team

Paul S. Miller-Historian, 

Bonnie Gurzenda-Member

 Charlie Heiler-Member

 Jay Jensen-Member