On June 10th, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament celebrated its Centennial with a Mass celebrated by Bishop J. Terry Steib and concelebrated by Fr. Edward Fisher, Pastor, Msgr. John McArthur, Fr. Keith Stewart, Fr. Robert Marshall, and Fr. David Graham. At 2:30 in the afternoon, we stood at a moment in time to remember the blessings of our 100-year history and look to the future of our small, multi-cultural congregation in the Binghamton neighborhood. Looking back to 1912, Bishop Steib reminded us in his homily of the first Mass celebrated by our founding pastor, Fr. Kemphues, at 9 a.m. on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which was on June the 9th that year. The very same words used in the consecration of the Eucharist by Fr. Kemphues were said by Bishop Steib and the priests concelebrating with him, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Beginning with 30 to 50 families and extending through the years to future generations from many nations and races, we have all been nourished by this same Eucharist and sent out to be Christ’s body.
The first meeting of our Planning Committee met in the Rectory on December 3, 2011 to begin putting together hopes and dreams for our centennial. We were amazed to read in The Commercial Appeal in the News of Bygone Days that on December 3, 1911, Catholics living in Binghamton decided to begin working on a drive to raise funds to build a Catholic Church, probably to be erected on Cambridge (now Yale Ave.) the main street of Binghamton. The roots of our past are evident in 2012!
When Blessed Sacrament Church and school were dedicated on July 27,1924, the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus were present as an Honor Guard for the Bishop. At our Centennial Celebration, sixteen members of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus provided an Honor Guard for Bishop Steib and ten Knights from two councils volunteered behind the scene providing help with parking and anything else that was needed. Then and now, we were blessed by their dedication to the church.
Reflecting the many nationalities that worship at Blessed Sacrament, the readings were proclaimed in Vietnamese, Spanish, and English. The Universal Prayer of the Faithful was read in English, Spanish, Polish, and Vietnamese. The four choirs, in English, Latin, Vietnamese, and Spanish, provided beautiful inspiration in the common language of music. The Gathering Song, under the leadership of Michael Herr, was the Latin Hymn, “Ecce Sacerdos”, which is traditionally used when the Bishop enters. The Offertory Song was “Pescador de Hombres” which was sung by the Hispanic choir. This song was a favorite of Pope John Paul II and it was originally written in Polish. The Vietnamese Choir sang the two Communion Hymns, “Gift of Love” and “God, Alone, My All.”
For 75 years out of our 100 years, Margaret Vuille was our organist. Beginning in 1921 when she was in Blessed Sacrament High School and continuing until 1996, Miss. Vuille played and taught organ and piano. Continuing in her footsteps, Marie Le began playing piano for the Vietnamese Mass this year at the age of nine and played for our celebration.
The past, present and future were reflected in the fact that we had with us two principals from the 1980’s, Sr. Grace Maria Saia, SCN and Ms. Sue Russell, along with the current principal, Br. Rob Veselsky. At the end of the Mass, Fr. Fisher asked all who had been principals or students at Blessed Sacrament to stand. Probably 80% of the congregation stood, giving witness to the impact of the love and care that they had received here during their developing years.
Following the Mass, Br. Rob and Bill Beckman, the eighth grade teacher, provided tours of the school. Debora Gordon put a slide show of pictures from our history together for all to enjoy and alumni signed up for a series of class reunions, which will be held over the next six months.
We may be a small parish, but the importance is not our size but the depth of our faith. The grace of the sacraments celebrated within the walls of our church and lived out in the world around us, shows the face of Jesus to others. The presence of the 400 plus who were gathered for the celebration, gave witness to the many ways in which our lives have been touched and blessed by the sacraments offered and faith shared here. Anniversaries are a time to remember our roots, which is what we did this day. As the Bishop noted in his homily, we remain a home and a comforting mother to many. May we carry the love, joy and gratitude of this day into our future.