Father Joseph Ferrara and some 80 parishioners of St. Simon Stock Parish ended their “Walk of Faith” Nov. 7 at the new church sign. Following a blessing of the sign, they entered the worship site for the first Mass of the new parish.
On Nov, 7, the parishioners from St. Edward Parish in Pine Hill and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Berlin, initiated their merger with a unity prayer service at the St. Edward campus followed by a 3.6 mile “Walk of Faith” to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel campus to begin the new St. Simon Stock Parish.
Led by Father Joseph Ferrara, the new pastor, members of the St. Edward and Our Lady of Mount Carmel communities journeyed together as the new St. Simon Stock Parish. Over 80 new members walked from Pine Hill to Berlin carrying the Book of Gospels and following the paschal candle and processional cross.
As the new parishioners of St. Simon Stock Parish arrived in Berlin, they gathered at the new church sign for a blessing.
Following the blessing of the outdoor sign, the new parishioners entered the worship site and celebrated the first Mass of St. Simon Stock Parish.
“It was a beautiful weekend. Joan and I thought the Saturday Mass was very spiritual. It will be remembered for years to come. We have talked to St. Ed’s parishioners and they all carry the feel of welcome there. You and the core team and the pastoral council have done a great job with the merger. Joan and I have both encouraged people to come to SSS because the parish is so alive and active. Everyone we met has welcomed us. We know how hard this has been for you and again, great job,” said Mark and Joan Buscher
During the opening Mass, the community created a “Treasure Chest” of memories; placing sacramental books, church seals, and the Pastoral Council minutes from the former parishes in it. At the offertory, members of the new parish brought forth all new items; new sacramental books, a new seal, and new Vessels for worship as St. Simon Stock Parish begins its new mission.
“The Core-Team and the transition team put special efforts into creating a welcoming atmosphere for all seven communities coming together to create the new St. Simon Stock Parish,” said Father Ferrara. “Our first Mass as a new parish can only be described as spiritually overwhelming.”
Why St. Simon Stock? He was the Carmelite friar who received the “brown scapular” from the Blessed Virgin Mary and is presently depicted on the stained glass window at the entrance of the Mt. Carmel worship site. He was from the British Isles, as was St. Edward. By joining all these aspects, it was only natural to name the new parish St. Simon Stock.
During the month of October, to prepare for this merger, there were a series of workshops to help all the new parishioners understand what will occur. To increase awareness that an entirely new parish was being created, everyone was asked to register as members of St. Simon Stock Parish.
The weekend of Nov. 7 and 8 will be remembered as the most joyful time when seven communities became one family in the Spirit of Jesus, St. Simon Stock Parish, said Father Ferrara.