St. Patrick’s in Jordan celebrates its 125th; Bishop, ‘Father D’ concelebrate Mass
By Tom Maguire | Associate editor
The St. Patrick’s timeline was rolled up like a diploma with a shiny green bow. At the parish in the Jordan countryside, they are well schooled in their history.
Examples: “1849, Summer. First Mass was offered in Jordan, in the McLane home on South Hamilton Street. … 1952, Aug. 24. St. Patrick’s Church on Main Street was dedicated. Rev. Donald Wise came to the parish as an assistant. … 1957, Sept. A new Catechetical Center opened in Elbridge. It served 142 children. … 1970, Sept. 20. Rev. Msgr. Thomas Costello [later Auxiliary Bishop] was appointed assistant at the Sunday Masses.”
An updated timeline will have to include Sunday, July 17, 2022: After four months of planning, a Mass and a luncheon celebrated the 125th anniversary of the parish’s incorporation.
St. Patrick’s Church exists “so that you and I might build our relationship with God,” said Bishop Douglas J. Lucia, who concelebrated the Mass with the pastor, Father John R. DeLorenzo.
Father DeLorenzo, known as “Father D,” said: “This parish has been a blessing in every way; I am now in my 18th year, and the good people of this parish have been outstandingly kind and supportive. All of those years I haven’t had a bad day here. I haven’t had any tremendous problems, because the people are so good, and … they love their faith so much.”
Welcoming and thanking the bishop at the start of the Mass was Paul Shinal, who assists in overseeing St. Patrick’s Communion ministers and lectors.
Actually, he said, it has been 164 years since the Catholic people of Jordan built the first church there in 1858, as a mission of St. Joseph’s Church in Camillus. It was then part of the Diocese of Albany. On May 11, 1896, Shinal said, St. Patrick’s was incorporated by Bishop Patrick A. Ludden and Rev. Bartholomew Stack. (Therefore the 125th anniversary was last year but the celebration was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.)
Sacrifices of the past
Shinal noted that Sunday’s ceremonies (including the dinner at the Jordan-Elbridge Community Center) honored the former priests and parishioners who sacrificed to ensure the Catholic presence in the community for countless men, women and children through the years.
The Mass offered prayers for the parish of the past and the parish of the present:
“May the sacrifice, generosity and resolute faith of the people, priests and consecrated religious who founded and sustained St. Patrick’s … be well rewarded by God and never forgotten by us. …
“May the Holy Spirit strengthen us … to lead others to Christ, by the example of our lived faith and daring hope.”
Richard Strauss, a Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said in an email that since he is a part of parish life — trustee, catechist, usher, lector and assorted other activities — it is “only natural to help celebrate our parish’s 125th.”
He described St. Patrick’s as a “close-knit faith community. Our children received the sacraments through the years. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary here. What better place to belong.”
Asked about Father DeLorenzo’s contribution to the long history of the parish, he wrote: “Father D allowed St. Patrick’s to become a major part of his life. He has ‘adopted’ St. Patrick’s as his ‘home’ parish. His care and concern for the parish, parishioners and activities of the parish are evident in his actions.”
The ageless soprano
Parishioner Eleanor “Penny” Barber, who was a longtime choir member, said she sings in church even if it feels like a solo; she figures Father D can hear her. A soprano, she reveres former St. Patrick’s Choir Director Marge Austin. “I love to sing,” Barber said. “Always have. Love the hymns. Love the Latin. I love all of it.”
She also loves the church itself. “The people that built it …, according to me,” she said, “did everything right. The statues are beautiful. The sanctuary is beautiful. The crucifix is beautiful.”
And Father D, she said, “gives excellent sermons. Very beautiful, yes. Very, very meaningful sermons. I know he puts a lot of work into his sermons.”
“Father DeLorenzo has been an amazing pastor,” said JoAnne Decker, president of St. Patrick’s Altar & Rosary Society and chair of the committee for the 125th. “He adds calmness, yet he adds a sense of belonging. He makes everyone feel welcome. … He brings a personality that you know that he is connected and he cherishes our church, our church family and being the wonderful priest that he is.”
Parishioner Daniel Ferrare, who teaches English at Skaneateles High School, called St. Patrick’s a “wonderful Catholic church. Our children are getting their religious instruction there and we just think that the people are wonderful. …
“Father D is a great homilist, first of all. I think he’s an excellent exegete of Scripture.” Of the great priests he has learned from, Ferrare said, Father D “is probably the most excellent at being able to … explain how Scriptures apply to contemporary life and the things that people are dealing with today in our society. … And he’s also very funny and just he’s really fun to be around at events.”
Dawn Zingaro, a Eucharistic minister, lector and member of the Liturgy Committee, said St. Patrick’s parishioners “are always willing to help no matter what it is, with the church grounds or serving breakfast, serving funeral brunches. … A lot of them are really elderly but they still volunteer and they still manage to get things done.”
Father D, she said, “gives wonderful sermons, and he’s always trying to stay on top of things, like with repairs; and he doesn’t hide anything from the congregation. … And he really seems to truly love our parishioners. … He knows how to give a sermon so that he has your attention the whole time. And then afterwards he’s always a little nervous — he’ll say, ‘Did you like my sermon?’ And I always tell him yes.”
“His homilies are really good,” agreed St. Patrick’s Trustee Marie Heck, “and you know he’s sincere in them and he’s just a very, very excellent speaker, and humble.” She also said the stained glass windows in the church were bowing and Father D got them fixed — “a lot of improvements at St. Pat’s since Father has been there.”
Told of his parishioners’ comments about his homilies, Father D said: “I’m glad to hear that, it’s humbling that they think that of me. I try to relate my life, my history, to God’s holy word. And I draw from my experiences in the past in my prayer life.” Then, when the Holy Spirit takes over, he said, “the homily I prepare is not the homily that I give; sometimes God takes over. So I’m very humbled that people are pleased with the homilies that I give here; they’re a blessing to me.”
On Memorial Day, Father D often sits on the front porch with his priest friends and they watch Jordan’s parade. His priest friends refer to his church in rural Jordan as “Green Acres, because it’s so wonderful,” he said.
A visitor suggested that Father D is the happiest guy in Green Acres.
“I am,” he said. “I’m very happy here in Jordan.”