By Deborah Starczewski
Sun contributing writer
Editor’s note: The following was submitted by a parishioner of St. Augustine Church in Baldwinsville.
As a child growing up in Utica, I attended a wonderful, traditional Catholic church. It was at this church where I received all my sacraments, married my husband and where both my parents still worship today. It wasn’t until later when I moved to the Baldwinsville area that the decision of choosing a parish became what I considered one of the most important decisions I would make for my family. I was impressed with all the Catholic churches in the Baldwinsville community and found that all of them represented what I was looking for in a parish: supportive faith community, emphasis on youth education, adult religious development, a commitment to social justice, etc. However, choosing a congregation in which I could raise my children in the Catholic faith was not something I would or should decide on casually.
So, it was 14 years ago that I walked through the doors of St. Augustine’s Parish in Baldwinsville. I discovered a congregation that was not just unique in its joyful celebrations of the sacraments, fellowship, community outreach, diversity, values of peace, justice and love, but also a worshipping community that embodies the traditional teachings of the Catholic church while looking to the future.
Founded in 1965, St. Augustine’s is a relatively small parish in comparison to some other parishes in the diocese, but it is the small size of this community that helps create an intimate feeling among its members. Since its doors opened, St. Augustine’s has been blessed with many wonderful pastors, all of which have fostered the spiritual growth of the congregation and who have each carved out a special place in the hearts of parishioners.
St. Augustine’s has endured some changes and transitions over the recent years. However, it was through these transitions that I personally discovered the resiliency and convictions of my fellow parishioners. This is a parish that has continued to thrive and celebrate its gratitude for God’s abundant blessings. It continues to be an active parish, providing over 58 ministries. It is through these ministries that the community of St. Augustine has always assisted and will continue to assist those in need in the community.
We are a community of believers which strives to live by these teachings through our commitment to stewardship, life-long Faith Formation programs, strong CYO participation, youth ministry, music ministry, migrant ministry, parish outreach and an active lay leadership. The congregation of St. Augustine doesn’t just “talk the talk,” they truly “walk the walk” — trying to live the teachings of Jesus Christ, by encouraging participation in liturgical and spiritual opportunities within the parish and the community.
There are many wonderful ministries at St. Augustine and to describe them all would be a Herculean task, but I am proud to say that I feel blessed to be part of St. Augustine. As we welcome Father Tom Servatius, St. Augustine continues to value its past, celebrate the present and look to its future, striving to serve as examples of Christ’s love serving the Lord and each other. As for myself, I know that when I walk through the doors I will continue to be nourished in this faith-filled community that I call my home. This is where I belong, a place where all are accepted and all are valued regardless of where they happen to find themselves on their journey of faith.
Deborah Starczewski is an early childhood special education teacher for Hear 2 Learn and serves on the Pastoral Council at St. Augustine’s Church. She resides in Baldwinsville with her husband David and their four children.