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Saturday, July 06, 2013


Some day, when I'm old and gray(er), I am thinking of writing a book on my wonderful years as a communicant at St. Anthony's parish; that beautiful South Olden Avenue church on the Hamilton-Trenton border. Below is just a smattering of the hundreds of precious memories surrounding the church of my younger years that will be included in that book if and when it is written:
He was one of my very favorite men of God. Father Joe was always there whether it was at our monthly Holy Name Society meetings, PTA meetings, or any other church affair. He was there during the time that St. Anthony's lovely cathedral like church went through a very necessary restoration. My many years as a loyal parishioner at St. Anthony began way back in the early 1960's, before the advent of Vatican II. My dear and very close family friend, the late Monsignor Leonard Toomey converted me to the faith after I spent countless hours at St. Anthony's rectory and the countless questions I had to have answered before I took the step to convert. Monsignor later told me that I was one of the numerous converts who took the longest to convince that the Catholic faith was right for me. From that magical year in the early 1960's, I became an extravert who was thirsty for the satisfaction of knowing that I was worthy to be a servant of the Lord. In rapid succession, I became a Lector, a leader of song, President of St. Anthony's PTA, President of St. Anthony's Holy Name Society, the "Billy Bigelow" carousel barker at many of our carnivals, a grammar school wall painter, a St. Anthony gardener and lawn mower operator, and countless other minor chores that defy immediate recall. I am told that I was the very first Eucharistic Minister at St. Anthony's parish. That was according to Father McGrath. He told me that Monsignor McCorristin was approached by Bishop John Rees who told him that he had to have at least one Eucharistic Minister. It is well known by those of us who were there, that Monsignor McCorristin was not too impressed with the drastic changes in Vatican II. Monsignor often opined that "converts usually made the best Catholics." When Father McGrath approached me way back in the early years of Vatican II, he told me that the Bishop had pulled rank on Monsignor, and according to Father McGrath, Monsignor said if he had to have a Eucharistic Minister, he wanted your truly. Given the fact that Father McGrath sometimes "gilded the lily" with some of his stories, I really wonder if that dialogue did indeed occur. However, that's what I was told, and I did indeed become an "EM" as well as a Lector, and under the wing of my favorite nun, Sister Delora Marie, I became involved in the parish music ministry. Sister was very interested in bringing the younger generation to Sunday Mass. With my son Tom and I, we recruited five talented female singers, and an additional male singer.  We formed a group called "Wings of Song" after Mendelssohn's beautiful classic melody, and with eight beautifully harmonic voices, did indeed start to see teens sitting next to Mom and Dad at Saturday night Mass. Before a Mass which he was getting ready to celebrate, I can still hear Father Joe asking me, "Tom are you going to sing 'Be Exalted' tonight?" Along with Father Joe, that spiritually uplifting hymn is one of my favorite scriptural hymns, and I still sing it at a number of my local singing presentations. But alas, all good things had to come to an end, and the incoming Pastor was not as receptive to our music as the previous Pastors, preferring the heavier music from the very beautiful St. Anthony Pipe organ, and we were unceremoniously dismissed. Even after all these years, I still have old timers at St. Anthony who remember and loved the music from "Wings of Song."

In the photo below right, we are singing at an Our Lady of Sorrows prayer group services where we appeared on a very frequent basis back in the 1990's

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