Tag Archives: st. rose of lima

Speaking from Within

Change is coming. As the season is turning from fall to winter, I can hear the subtle signs of change in the air. And, it’s been many seasons in the making. 

The past week at mass, Father Mike talked in circles about changes among our parish and cluster. He didn’t state anything for certain, but asked us all to keep an open mind. What I like best about his homily was that he made it relatable to us. He used himself as an example of how much he loved his own parish in the South Hills. Yes, all of his family’s most important moments in life happened within the walls of his church. And for us, it’s within the walls of our church that our faith has been supported and nourished. It’s difficult for us — it’s personal — our church is the compass that guides us. I can relate to this for my family parish of St. Rose of Lima has sadly already undergone the first phase of change.

I wanted to jump up and say, “You get it! Thank you that you don’t just speak the words that are politically correct — that you speak the words inside of your heart.” And I say this, because it’s a sign that Father Mike cares about how the changes are going to affect all of us. And that I can follow and support for the “Church Alive” campaign has not come with a lot of positive vibes for me. For the first time, I finally see the vision for this campaign. As in Ecclesiastes, everything has a season. And for the church, maybe it’s a great renewal of sorts. As hard as that will be for all of us, I will stand by my faith, no matter what it means. And it’s time that those who left our church find their way back to us.

Always B E L I E V E !

Thanksgiving is about a month from today. In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m going to post one little thing at the bottom of each blog post that I’m grateful for.

Today I was driving along Franklin Road in Cranberry Township on my way to physical therapy and passed a row of the most gorgeous, color fall trees in bright oranges, yellows and reds. It made my day!


God, thank you for the colors of fall.

Goodbye to St. Rose

So Saturday we went to my Mom’s house for Tommy’s birthday. I’m glad we did, because we planned to go to church with her at St. Rose and sadly, we realized that it’s one of the last few masses at that worship site. First they changed the name of the parish to St. Monica and now they’re doing away with masses at St. Rose. I guess change is never easy.

Let’s look at the facts. There’s nothing wrong with St. Rose. It’s a large church. It has ample parking. It sits on acres of land so there’s ample room for expansion. The church in Chippewa is jammed in among neighborhood houses. From what I understand, they’re going to buy those houses, tear them down and expand the church on that property. What happens if someone doesn’t want to sell?

I’m not going to blog what I really think, because it would be downright disrespectful. Plus, I told my husband on the way home that I’m upset because St. Rose has meant so much to me in my life. But even he agreed that the decision seemed ridiculous, because there is nothing wrong with the church. Not only isn’t there anything wrong with it, but it’s the nicer and the most comfortable of all the churches.

Again, I wish I could say what I really think about this subject. But I’ll hold my tongue, because I am no longer a parishioner there. But I will say that I can’t believe they’re going to ask the people that have held this worship site as sacred for their entire lives for the millions of dollars to build the new site. It’s so beyond ridiculous. Good luck with that.

I held back the tears as I sat in the pew at St. Rose. I was glad to have the chance to say goodbye. And as I listened to Father Schwartz give the homily, I realized it’s not about a worship site as much as it is about my relationship with God. But even as I left the church with those thoughts in my mind, I felt my heart harden just a bit — for it was too bad I wouldn’t be going to my hometown church ever again. I feel like so many things are slipping away with my faith. Would I become one of those people that didn’t have a connection with the church anymore? I pray not.

I’ll never forget St. Rose — so many memories. And yes, it will always be St. Rose to me. They may as well close it than to call it something else.

If today your hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Psalm 95:6-8.
Today I need to the strength to just have a little faith.

Prayer to Saint Rose of Lima
O Saint Rose,
you were filled with
the love of God
who enabled you
to leave the world
and be free for
Him through the austerity
of penance.
Please help me to follow
in your footsteps on earth
so to enjoy the torrent
of God’s delights
in heaven with you.
Amen.

Celebrating 20 Years

Smiles of happiness

Smiles of happiness

Debbie and Scott celebrated 20 years of marriage on July 11, 2014. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years! It truly seems like yesterday — except fast forward to today — and see a happy family with my two beautiful nieces. It’s indeed been 20 years.

My Grandma Miller made Debbie’s custom gown. She used to be a seamstress at a bridal shop in Beaver Falls, PA for years and years. She made the gowns for all of my cousins on the Miller side of the family — and even my Mom’s wedding gown in 1963. Debbie’s gown was the last full gown she made (to my knowledge). By the time I got married in 2001, Grandma could no longer make gowns of this magnitude. I remember Debbie gave her a couple of pictures and they went shopping for fabric at a store in downtown Beaver Falls. There are no stores like that there anymore. Grandma also made her headpiece.

Hot pink bridal gowns

Hot pink bridal gowns

Now our dresses were another story. The dresses were true to the time — I could have played a part in the popular TV show Designing Women! The dresses were hot pink with a funky design off the shoulders. I think the late 80’s and early 90’s were all about how much fabric could be layered on your upper body to make you look at least 20 pounds heavier — that included those beloved shoulder pads! I never, ever, ever wore my hair up, and not only did I have it up for Debbie’s wedding, but it looked like a bird had built a nest in it! I have to admit that the color Debbie picked was something I would never have personally chosen, but it made such a beautiful wedding with the vibrant color to compliment the black.

Debbie and Scott were married at St. Rose church in Darlington, PA, our hometown parish. Our brother, Bob married them — it was one of his first weddings. He had been a priest almost two years now. The reception was held at the Jewish Community Center in Chippewa, PA. It was one of the hottest days of the year and something happened to the air conditioning and we had none for the evening!!! It was unbelievably hot. Debbie’s girlfriends Melissa and Lisa were also in the wedding and we all set up the hall earlier in the day. Debbie had designed the center pieces — using clear bowls, filled with water — and we floated hot pink flower-shaped candles on the water. They were gorgeous when burning.

Bird's nest hairdo

Bird’s nest hairdo and dancing with my friend, Cathie

I had designed Debbie’s program for the church and we tied hot pink ribbons around those. Randy Rastetter, a long-time friend, used to sell wedding invitations from a big book back then at his printing company. This was long before digital invitations. And those invitations were gorgeous — I remember Debbie’s had roses with opal foil stamping and embossing with hot pink accents on a heavy, uncoated cream paper with a deckled edge. The inside had a silver panel and silver foil stamping with their wedding details. You can’t find invites like that anymore. Times change and so does so much else.

Grandpap Knowlson died the same year of Debbie’s wedding — in August of 1994. I remember thinking at the time that she was so fortunate to have him there, as he had been slowing down for a year leading up to her wedding. It’s hard to believe that it will be 20 years since he passed as well. And now I think about how I feel so fortunate that my Dad was at mine — he died the following year in 2002. It makes me think a lot about life in general. It’s like a giant timeline of milestones that define who we are and how we fit into history — in our very own little story.

Debbie and Scott leading the locomotion

Debbie and Scott leading the locomotion

There are some things that never change — Debbie’s wedding had lots of alcohol, fabulous food and endless cookies. Exquisite cake. And lots of dancing from the polkas to the Hokey Pokey to the Electric Slide and the Locomotion. It’s a day we waited for with anticipation, because you know that you’ll soon be celebrating with all your family and all your friends at one time in one place.

If you take a few minutes to soak it all in, you’ll be able to witness history filling the pages of your own story. And those will get passed on 20 years later to your children who may laugh at your hair and your clothes, but have a little more insight to what life was like before them. Or maybe they’ll dream of their own wedding one day, when they start the next chapter in the story.

A L W A Y S  B E L I E V E !

St. Rose of Lima

My First Holy Communion at St. Rose of Lima Church in Darlington, PA (with Father Lemp)

My First Holy Communion at St. Rose of Lima Church in Darlington, PA (with Father Lemp), 1975.

If there is one parish that has touched my life more than any other, it’s St. Rose of Lima parish in Darlington, PA. I attended that church since I can remember — and it’s so special in so many ways.

I made my First Confession and First Holy Communion there in 1975. There were five girls and eight boys and we were all in the second grade. I actually went through all of my CCD classes with those same kids — until we were confirmed there in eighth grade. My Aunt Mary was my sponsor, and I can still remember the light purple dress I wore to make that sacrament — with Bishop Leonard and Father Lemp.

Debbie's First Holy Communion (with Father Lemp), 1980.

Debbie’s First Holy Communion (with Father Lemp), 1976.

Father Joseph Lemp. He was the pastor there for most of childhood and into my teens. And, he had a huge influence on my entire family. He was a kind man with a great smile and soft disposition. He was always interested in whatever you had to say. He attended many of the celebrations we had at our home — for all of us kids — for all of our sacraments — and even some of our other parties. There was always a Catholic presence in our home from the time I can remember. Father Lemp inspired us to have a simple and deep relationship with God.

Father Lemp’s family had a house on Martha’s Vineyard, and we vacationed there a couple of different years by staying at their home when I was in high school. He used to frequent the Wooden Angel in Beaver, PA and was a wine connoisseur. I’ve been to the Wooden Angel a couple times in my life, but preferred the Wooden Indian right next door.

Bob's First Mass, July 11, 1992 at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.

Bob’s First Mass, July 11, 1992 at St. Rose Catholic Church.

Father Lemp was very supportive in my brother Bob’s decision to become a priest. And when he got sick and passed in September of 2005 at the age of 75, he left his chalice to my brother. My brother cherishes it and uses it on his most special occasions.

St. Rose of Lima was our parish. Something wonderful happened there every single year of my childhood. We went to mass every weekend there. We never missed mass — hardly ever. We went to every holy day, every Christmas and every Easter there — well, sometimes we went to the sister church, St. Ann’s in New Galilee for some of the special masses. We all made our sacraments at St. Rose of Lima — our First Confessions, First Holy Communions, our Confirmations. My sister Debbie and her husband, Scott were married there in 1994, as were Tom and me in 2001. Tommy was baptized there and made his First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation there. He was an altar boy since he was eight or nine years old. Both my brothers were altar boys there. I was a Eucharistic Minister until I moved out of Darlington in 1998. My nieces, Megan and Tara were baptized there and made all their sacraments there, too. Bob and I were Godparents for Megan there. Tara just made her confirmation there this past Saturday. Bob had his first mass there and Mom burned many a candle for me there. And, we buried my Dad from there.

Father Bob's sermon at our wedding in 2001.

Father Bob’s homily at our wedding in 2001.

We supported that parish. There were all kinds of fundraisers that my parents volunteered for and we helped at many of the events. My Dad was on the parish council and my Mom was part of the Ladies’ Guild for many, many years. I remember the card parties. We would set up folding card tables and people came and played card games all night. That was back in the days when people smoked in public and the hall was a complete cloud of cigarette smoke. As kids, we used to sell cans of pop and empty ash trays so people could continue to fill them back up. Mom worked in the kitchen making food — and Dad worked the door and sold tickets and raffles.

Megan's baptism at St. Rose (Father Bob and I are Godparents).

Megan’s baptism at St. Rose (Father Bob and I are Godparents).

There was a weekly bingo too, but Mom and Dad rarely took us back in those days — we were just too little to be allowed in the bingo hall. That was back in the days when they used hard cards with cork markers to cover your cards. But eventually, they started using the paper cards with ink daubers. My grandparents and Aunt Mary (when she was old enough) used to come and play every week. One week my Grandma had recycled her own dauber by filling an old one with red dye she made from pokeberries from her home. Well, as the night went on, the pokeberry juice started to expand in the dauber and it exploded with a huge bang right in the bingo hall — staining one of the brand new ceiling tiles as the bottle shot straight up and into the ceiling. My Dad told that story all the time, laughing as he did — telling us all how she scared the living daylights out of everyone. And then Grandpap would chime in that he was worried about the entire five gallon jug she had under the kitchen sink at home — he hoped it didn’t explode before they got home!!! That ceiling tile remain stained for many years.

We worked spaghetti dinners, flea markets, bake sales, dances (attended dances), funerals and all kinds of other events. Later, when I was in college, my parents resurrected the bingo and managed a weekly bingo every Thursday night. I rarely helped at that time in my life, but my parents were completely devoted.

We loved our church — we loved St. Rose of Lima parish. It was a place of faith, a place of community and friendship. So to say it holds a special place in my heart is an understatement.

The years have gone by and my Mom and sister still belong to St. Rose of Lima parish. I’ll go every once in a while with my Mom, but it’s hard for me to see all the changes that are being made, so I don’t go there that often. It’s so difficult, because for so many years going back to St. Rose was like coming home. But, today, in general, I feel that the parishioners are so disconnected from the pastors. Back in the day, Father Lemp was part of our family. He didn’t put himself above us. He was our equal, our friend, our confidant, yet a great disciple for Jesus — just knowing him made us better people. He didn’t put himself on a pedestal. 

I talked to my Mom for a long time on Sunday evening as she’s just as sad as me. St. Rose is joining with three other parishes and becoming one — St. Monica’s. Are you kidding me? To me it will always, always, always be St. Rose of Lima parish until the day they tear the building down — and even then that ground will always be a holy place in honor of Saint Rose of Lima. Whoever made this decision obviously had no love for these parishes — only quick solutions — that don’t make any sense at all.

Long live St. Rose Lima parish in the hearts of all us who love it dearly.

Always B E L I E V E !

Prayer to Saint Rose of Lima
O Saint Rose,
you were filled with
the love of God
who enabled you
to leave the world
and be free for
Him through the austerity
of penance.
Please help me to follow
in your footsteps on earth
so to enjoy the torrent
of God’s delights
in heaven with you.
Amen.

St. Lucia — Here We Come!

Photo compliments of http://cbayresort.com.

Photo compliments of http://cbayresort.com.

So we booked our summer vacation yesterday. We decided on St. Lucia which wasn’t even part of the original poll. We’re staying at the Coconut Bay Resort and Spa on the southern, Atlantic side of St. Lucia. And we couldn’t be more excited!

The lazy river at the Coconut Bay & Spa Resort in St. Lucia

The lazy river at the Coconut Bay Resort & Spa in St. Lucia.

This resort looks awesome. It has a water park, complete with a meandering lazy river. Now that’s my speed and I can imagine spending hours in the lazy river alone! The beach looks just a beautiful.

The island is very mountainous and was formed from volcanoes like all of the other caribbean islands. We’re definitely planning to see the Pitons, the most famous volcanic mountains. There’s just so much to do and see and that’s what’s exciting, because we’ve never been here before. There’s banana plantations, fishing villages (which I personally want to visit), a tropical rainforest and more. We’re definitely going to the Sulphur Springs and Botanical Gardens where I see we can take a therapeutic mud bath before rinsing off in the waterfalls. Now how incredible does that sound?

There’s a Catamaran sail around the northern caribbean side of St. Lucia. We’ll have to see how far that is from our resort. I’d hate to spend 2 hours or more on a bus. There’s a Segway tour which sounds like fun — I have to first head to Station Square in Pittsburgh to see if I can actually maneuver one of those! There’s ziplining, which I know I’m not allowed to do, but they have an aerial cable car that goes through the rainforest. That will be my speed! And shopping galore! It sounds like they specialize in artisan jewelry and silk and batik fabrics. I definitely look forward to shopping here. There’s fishing tours, dolphin spotting and sunset cruises. I think the thing I’m most excited about is checking out their exotic flora in the rainforest. Any photos I’ve seen are just incredible and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Oh and there’s festivals during the summer. Their Feast of St. Rose De Lima is August 30. From what I’ve read, they celebrate the entire month of August, so I’m hoping something may be going on while we’re there. St. Rose of Lima is my hometown parish from Darlington, PA. She’s always depicted with a rose. I think this is a really cool tie to St. Lucia. They celebrate with parades through town where natives dress as kings and queens. There’s all kinds of heritage around this festival and I plan to research it more before we go.

And lastly, they have a casino. It’s small with only 250 slots and a few table games. They say it’s easy to take a ferry to Martinique to do some serious gambling. So I guess if we’re so inclined, we could check out a neighboring island. But I’m sure we’ll be content with the nightly entertainment at our resort for the most part.

So if you’ve ever been to St. Lucia, please let me know what you recommend we do and see. I’m anxious to hear from you!