VOL 124 NO. 27
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
Parishioners reflect on their trip to Blessed Marianne Cope’s beatification
UTICA — There was a feeling of anticipation in the air as close to 50 people gathered at St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s Church in Utica on July 25. They had come to hear the panel discussion of six people who had traveled to Rome to witness the beatification of Blessed Marianne Cope at St. Peter’s Basilica on May 14.
The idea for the panel discussion germinated a month ago when Father Richard Dellos, pastor of St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s Church, mentioned to a few parishioners following Mass at the chapel that parishioner Patricia Iagnocco had made the pilgrimage to Italy for the beatification. After the parishioners expressed an interest, Father Dellos encouraged Iagnocco to organize a panel discussion in order to get the pilgrims’ perspectives on their trip to Italy.
Iagnocco arranged for panel members Jane Vogel (cousin of Blessed Marianne Cope), Barbara Ames (great-great-great-niece of Blessed Marianne Cope), Linda Denz, Cora Swartout and Michelle LaColla to join in speaking about their experiences at the forum.
The forum began when Iagnocco announced that St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s Church was the church where Mother Marianne worshiped. She and her family moved to the parish in 1840 from Germany and lived on Schuyler Street in Utica. Mother Marianne worked as a factory hand at the Utica Steam Woolen Mill and then later entered the convent.
Iagnocco then thanked God for allowing the group to travel to Rome. She also thanked Father Dellos for making the panel discussion possible.
George Tharalson, news director at television station WIBX, served as moderator for the event. Tharalson began the discussion by asking the panelists if the change in the scheduling of the beatification had added any stress to their traveling experience. The celebration almost did not take place on its originally scheduled day of May 15. Because of the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI, many changes were made to the calendar of events for St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass was moved from its originally scheduled day, Pentecost Sunday, May 15, to May 14.
Many of the panelists said they weren’t worried when they heard the news. Their way of coping with the uncertainty of the situation was to pray. One of the panelists said that on the morning of the day of the beatification, she and her friend were just finishing a tour of Italy. They had to hurry in order to make it to the beatification on time. Another panelist said that she was disappointed when she realized that Pope John Paul II wasn’t going to be presiding over the beatification.
Tharalson asked the panelists, “What was it like to make the trip?” The panelists all agreed that it had been a special experience. Iagnocco was impressed when she witnessed the banner of Blessed Marianne Cope being unfurled during the beatification ceremony. “It was so awesome,” said Iagnocco. “I still get chills up and down my spine when I think about it.” A number of panelists talked about how they were awed by the sights and sounds of St. Peter’s Basilica. They felt they were on sacred ground and they said the music, which included Gregorian chant, was beautiful.
When the panelists were asked what their lasting memories of the trip were, Denz replied, “It was when I was sitting in the beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica during the the Mass of her beatification, looking at the altar, stained glass windows and hearing the beautiful music. I will always remember what it was like to be a part of that ceremony and to experience the feelings of the people around me.”
Panelist Swartout said the most memorable part of the trip for her was seeing the pope twice. “He was so close, I could almost touch him,” Swartout said. “It was an amazing experience.”
Tharalson then asked the panelists what they hope the world learns from the example set by Blessed Marianne Cope. “I hope the nation will live intently with the Holy Spirit and accept everyone — this is what she did,” said Iagnocco. “She loved everyone. We need respect and love and we need to show it.”
Father Dellos then announced that St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s Church had recently initiated an evangelism committee consisting of 18 members. They visited 20-30 homes in the area where Blessed Marianne Cope lived on Schuyler Street. “We want to bring the Gospel to the people who live on Schuyler Street,” said Father Dellos. “We believe that Mother Marianne has a special interest, a special prayer for the people who live there, so we have to love them into the kingdom through her intercession.”
The forum concluded with Father Dellos offering a blessing and leading those in attendance in singing “We’re Standing on Holy Ground.”
Father Dellos invited everyone to the chapel to see two stained glass windows of Blessed Marianne Cope and to enjoy some refreshments at the parish center. The first window shows Blessed Marianne Cope ministering to a leper, and the second depicts her as a religious education student sitting in a classroom.
Also in attendance at the forum were some people who had also made the trip to Rome, but who had not participated as panelists.
Kay Garfield enjoyed the forum. “I thought it was great to hear the panelists’ perceptions of the trip,” said Garfield. “I felt the same way that all of them did — it was just such a special time.”
Joe Foley, a parishioner of St. Peter’s Church in Rome, filmed the experience with his camcorder. “The beatification was very nice and I was shocked at how immense St. Peter’s Basilica was,” remarked Foley.
What he finds most memorable is the time he was standing in the Chapel at Assisi. Because talking and taking pictures were forbidden inside the chapel, Foley found himself reading a booklet about St. Francis’ life. “A strange feeling came over me,” said Foley. “I felt ‘Wow!’ I was reading about his life and all the things he did, the people he cured, and it just hit me.”
Foley enhanced his spirituality through this experience. “Reflecting on the lives of the saints encouraged me and has made me stronger,” said Foley.
“The forum and trip to Rome were fascinating,” said Richard Nuffer. He feels that the beatification ceremony, greeting the pope, and a tour of the pope’s summer home are things he will never forget.
Nuffer’s spirituality has been deepened by these experiences. “I pray to Blessed Marianne Cope every morning,” said Nuffer. A parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bridgeport, he found himself blessing himself when Father Michael McCaffrey mentioned Blessed Marianne Cope’s name at a Mass recently. “I’ve made her my patron saint,” remarked Nuffer. “I feel she’s a saint, but she’s not canonized yet.”