By Tony DeGol
Jeanne Thompson has been looking forward to August 1st for a while.
“I am so excited because it is not just a Mass, it is a celebration of our Year of Saint Joseph, and it’s a whole afternoon,” she explained.
Thompson is referring to the spiritual activities planned for beautiful and historic Saint Joseph’s Mission Church at Hart’s Sleeping Place in Carrolltown.
Blessed by the Prince-Priest and Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin in 1830, Saint Joseph’s Mission Church is the oldest church in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. It was the center of Catholicity in northern Cambria County until 1850 when Saint Benedict parish was established.
Among the plans for August 1st are self-guided tours of the site from Noon to 3:00 p.m.
“People can go through the church, and check out the grounds and cemetery,” Thompson said. “When you get out of your car and walk on the grounds, you get a sense of true holiness and a place of grace. It’s right here in our midst in Cambria County There’s much history.”
Various priests will be on hand to hear confessions from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
“For those seeking an indulgence, there’s a perfect opportunity,” she added.
At 4:00 p.m., Bishop Mark will celebrate an outdoor Mass on the grounds of Saint Joseph’s Mission Church.
The faithful are invited to bring a lawn chair. Limited seating under a tent will be available for those seeking shelter from the sun.
There will be a Benedictine presence at the Mass, which is appropriate because the community’s ministry in the United States is rooted at Hart’s Sleeping Place.
Also present will be representatives of Sisters of Saint Joseph, who also share a history with Father Gallitzin.
“He is the priest who baptized one of the sisters of the original group in our diocese,” Thompson noted. “This is just remarkable that we have had dozens and dozens of sisters, actually from Cambria County, who have been a part of the community. The Sisters of Saint Joseph in this special year were among the first people I contacted to share their life experience, and that’s how I also gained insight into the connection with Prince Gallitzin himself.”
The Year of Saint Joseph continues through December 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
More observances are planned in the coming months, and Thompson is encouraging the faithful to take advantage of the August 1 events and other opportunities.
“I would not want to hear from people that the whole year went by and they did not get any closer to knowing who Saint Joseph is in their own personal life and in their prayer life,” she stated.