Morton parish looks back, ahead on 50th anniversary
MORTON — Fifty years ago, members of then-new Blessed Sacrament Parish might have thought their first church was a bit large for the 200 registered families.
After five decades, the perspective has changed.
The growing parish now embraces 1,200 families, and the church is undergoing a $2 million renovation and expansion as it observes its 50th anniversary.
“The parish stepped out in faith, trusting in divine inspiration and divine providence” when the church’s cornerstone was set in place on Nov. 10, 1963, according to Father Mark DeSutter, present pastor.
“Fifty years later we’re still moving forward, and the story of our parish continues,” he said in a homily Sunday during a Mass celebrated in the parish hall, where liturgies will take place until the project is completed in late 2009.
Following Sunday’s 10 a.m. Mass, which featured students in a variety of roles as Catholic Schools Week opened, parishioners got their first look at the contents of a time capsule that was found in the church’s cornerstone.
There were expected finds such as the front pages from local newspapers, including The Register, the forerunner of The Catholic Post. A story in The Register dated Nov. 10, 1963, reported on the fifth week of the historic Ecumenical Council in Rome, now known as Vatican II.
Also found safely preserved were 1963 coins, photographs of school classes, and pages from the school and parish directories. An unusual find were dozens of slips of paper featuring the handwritten names of people present for the laying of the cornerstone, including the printed names of children who sang at the ceremony.
“That was a nice surprise,” said Father DeSutter, who at Sunday’s reception also introduced Ray Frank, who did masonry work on the church 50 years ago and was present at the ceremony.
The church is a construction site once more as plans call for enlarging the seating capacity from 500 to 650 and the addition of a gathering space, devotional space, and a bride’s room. The sanctuary will be remodeled, the pews and windows redone, space created for choirs, and the church will get a new roof and ceiling.
The remodeled church will also feature technology updates to allow, for example, video presentations.
“It’s a pretty major overhaul,” said Father DeSutter. A capital campaign conducted last spring resulted in pledges of $2.4 million that not only helped fund the current project but took care of other parish debts.