By Deacon Tom Picciano | Contributing writer
ENDICOTT — “This was all field out here,” said Norma Bidwell. Bidwell, a charter member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, doesn’t recall much about the church being built 75 years ago, but she remembers winning a statue there as the building first opened, when she was about 10 or 11 years old.
“I used to help my mother when the Altar and Rosary would clean,” she said. “And all the get-togethers we had. Going to Mass. All the priests.”
Bidwell has attended the parish for all but one year of its existence.
“It’s been a nice church to belong to all these years,” she said.
Our Lady of Good Counsel marked its 75th anniversary on April 24 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham. Hundreds attended both the Mass and the dinner that followed.
“I marvel and rejoice at all that has been accomplished through God’s grace and your cooperation over these last years,” Bishop Cunningham said at the Mass.
“The anniversary is also a time for all of you as living stones of the church to rededicate yourselves to Christ and to embrace the church’s mission to bring the joy of the Gospel to all who should hear it,” the bishop said.
“My prayer for you,” Bishop Cunningham said, “is that you will continue to find here at Our Lady of Good Counsel nourishment for your faith, reason for your hope, inspiration for your charity, and zeal to proclaim the Gospel.”
Deacon Tom Harley, pastoral associate and parish business administrator at OLGC, notes that two things created the “dynamic personality of the parish.”
“So many of the original members worked for E-J [Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company] and they brought with them that great work ethic, love of community, love of church, love of faith.”
Then in the 1950s and 60s, people came to work for IBM at its birthplace.
“They came from all over the country; they came to live in the Endicott area. They brought with them no family except for their own close-knit family,” Harley said. “They built new families with the other people who were members of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. And you can still see that today in many of the retired members who worked for IBM at one time [and] have chosen to stay.”
“This parish has always had a very welcoming spirit,” said Father Michael Galuppi, the current pastor. “That welcoming spirit has survived even the moving of IBM, the closure of E-J. So I think people still find it a very welcoming place.”
Our Lady of Good Counsel has a strong emphasis on social justice, which Deacon Harley said was initiated in large part by the efforts of the late parishioner Joe Coudriet.
“When they started the soup kitchen,” Father Galuppi said, “they were looking for a couple dozen people to get it off the ground and they got 400 people on the first ask.”
The dinner held in the gymnasium following the anniversary Mass drew hundreds of people. A slide show projected on the wall highlighted many events over the 75-year history.
There have been seven pastors at Our Lady of Good Counsel, starting with Father Charles O’Farrell. Two previous Our Lady of Good Counsel pastors attended the celebrations: Father Edward Zandy and Father Thomas Hobbes.
“It’s good to be here to be able to celebrate something like this,” Father Hobbes said, “and to see it thriving more and more.”
Deacon Tom Picciano is a longtime contributing writer to the Sun. A professional journalist, he currently serves at St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament Church in Vestal.
See photos from the celebration below. (All photos for the Sun by Chuck Haupt.)