pplanlogo2017What blessings have come to the parishioners of Saint Elizabeth over the past 20 years, breathing life into a new parish here in the beautiful countryside of Upper Uwchlan Township, Chester County! It is a rare opportunity that you, as Catholics in the Northeastern US, have had to build a new parish community from the ground up, forming not just the visible and tangible elements of the parish facilities, but the parish’s spiritual and pastoral life as well. Most Catholics in our area of the country have never had the experience of founding a new parish. So as the parish’s 20th anniversary approaches, we thank God for the generosity, faith, and enthusiasm of all the parishioners who have faithfully stewarded Saint Elizabeth Church from its establishment in July of 2000 through the many months and years since then.

It must sometimes seem that in the blink of an eye, the parish is now looking ahead to plan for the next quarter-century in the life of Saint Elizabeth, considering questions like these: Who is the parish today and what can we carry forward from the first twenty years?  And: How can we use our many gifts of time, talent, and treasure in the years ahead to maintain our foundation, serve the temporal and spiritual needs of the parish family, and encourage others to join us in the faith community that is Saint Elizabeth?

In the spirit of responsible stewardship, and in consultation with many parish leaders, Father Mullin engaged the assistance of a local firm, LCDC Development Consultants, to proceed with a Feasibility Study intended to assess the readiness of parishioners to support a 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign. The 5-year campaign is envisioned to be initiated this fall and culminate in the celebration of the parish’s 25th Anniversary in the spring of 2025.

Many parishioners are already familiar with one of LCDC’s principals, Lynn Cummings, from her work on the Stepping Forward Together Campaign to fund the construction of the gymnasium and the parish ministry center (2006-2007).  For over 30 years, LCDC has worked primarily with Catholic parishes in our region on Feasibility Studies, Capital Campaigns, Increased Offertory Appeals, and Leadership/Lay Engagement initiatives.  As Managing Partner for LCDC, I have been coordinating the feasibility study for the parish.  

Beginning in early March, LCDC began to meet individually with parishioners for confidential interviews. This conversation asked participants about their sense of the parish today – what strengths and challenges exist, what their thoughts and counsel are regarding the proposed Anniversary Campaign, and their willingness to make a financial gift to this effort when the time for making a pledge would come. LCDC would like to thank those who gave their time to the study interviews, members of approximately 50 households in all.

As interviewers, we were so grateful for the thoughtfulness and hospitality of everyone involved, including staff members who made space available and helped the schedules run smoothly! Some parishioners met with LCDC team members in the parish ministry center, while others participated by phone in the weeks since. Once the interviewers have completed their own notes, we compile the data from all of the interviews into a formal report, which provides the parish with valuable information about the level of support that can be expected from parishioners for the proposed campaign. In this way, the “voice of the people” can be discerned, while ensuring the confidentiality of each interviewee.

The entire parish community will be invited to a presentation of the Feasibility Study results – traditionally, LCDC has an “open town meeting” at a time most convenient to parishioners. At that time, we will share the study findings and recommendations to best prepare for and proceed with the 25th Anniversary Campaign for Saint Elizabeth Parish. Stay tuned for more details about the time and place for this presentation.

-Kathy Caliendo, LCDC Managing Partner

palm drive thruCAPTION: A drive-by pick-up of blessed Palmon Palm Sunday was one of the altered ways to deliver pastoral care during the pandemic.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a parish as a community of the Christian faithful and the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to its pastor.  “It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.”

During the past many weeks we have been living through a challenging time, when it has been impossible to come together in large groups for Mass, or for any other reason, because of the COVID-19 epidemic, but our parish still continues to operate as a provider of pastoral care.  We are blessed to have online access to live-streamed daily and Sunday Mass. We have been able to continue to share time and prayer with our priests, deacons, and each other through the wonder of technology.

In addition to live-stream and video recordings of the Stations of the Cross during Lent, we had a “drive-by” pick-up of blessed Palm on Palm Sunday, and online Easter Triduum services including the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and the joyous celebration of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening.  We have also had prayer services for healing with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and communal recitation of the Rosary, extensions of our devotional life while we are socially distanced.

In ordinary times our priests respond to parishioners’ needs with help from the Pastoral Care Office. Home and Hospital stewardship volunteers care for the homebound and sick with personal visits. They are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who bring the Blessed Sacrament to those unable to attend Mass. They also conduct a weekly prayer service with Holy Communion for residents of two senior living facilities within the parish and provide a vital connection by offering emotional and spiritual support. During this pandemic, these volunteers have continued to bring caring comfort to homebound parishioners by sharing conversation and prayer, via telephone.

In-person pastoral care visits have been curtailed for now; however, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is available for those who are critically ill and in danger of death. The Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage may be arranged, but only with a limited congregation.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated in the church regularly; while always observing social distancing requirements.

While most of us have been staying home, our community has been here with support. Stewardship volunteers have gone grocery shopping with “front door” drop off services for parishioners who are unable to get to a store and do not have family nearby.  Approximately 40 volunteers participated in a pastoral care calling campaign and reached out to more than 500 parishioners, age 70+, sharing information about available parish services while giving compassionate contact to stave off the loneliness that comes with social distancing. This connection has been reassuring and appreciated by all.

Despite the COVID-19 virus disrupting and costing lives throughout the world, our spiritual lives and well-being still receive the pastoral attention that we need to support and sustain us while we await a time when we can all gather together as the Saint Elizabeth parish family.

-Lisa Sheronas

julie iafolla double rainbow

CAPTION: Double Rainbow over Saint Elizabeth on June 25, 2020. Photo by Julie Iafolla.

This past July 1, in the midst of the ongoing social restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, our parish community quietly marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of Saint Elizabeth Church, without the festive celebration one might associate with an emerald anniversary.

Nevertheless, our 20th anniversary as a parish community provides me a fitting opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation to all the individuals, couples and families of Saint Elizabeth who have so generously given of their time, talent and treasure to the mission and ministry of our parish community during the past 20 years.

By the grace of God, all of us have come together throughout these years to bring our church to life on Fellowship Road.  Our Parish Vision reminds us that we are called by Jesus Christ to grow as a community of disciples, to deepen our faith in God, and to live each day as grateful stewards of God's gifts.

So let us not grow weary, but remain strong in the Lord! May God bestow many blessings upon all in our parish community in the years ahead and bring to fulfillment in Christ Jesus the great work which the Lord began among us back in July of 2000!

And may the Holy Spirit continue to lead us in sustaining a holy, faithful and vibrant Catholic community, deeply rooted in the Word of God and the Sacraments, and equally committed to caring for one another and to serving the needs of others, for unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   - Fr. Tom Mullin    

Fr AndrewOn June 19, Fr. Andrew Labatorio, our parochial vicar since July of 2019, was appointed by Archbishop Perez as the pastoral administrator for Our Lady of Hope Church in Philadelphia.  Our Lady of Hope was established in 1993 with the merger of three parishes in what is known as the Lower North East section of Philadelphia: Saint Stephen (founded in 1843), Holy Child (founded in 1909) and Our Lady of the Holy Souls (also founded in 1909).  Beginning on Wednesday, July 8, Fr. Andrew has taken on new responsibilities as the pastoral leader of this multi-cultural community which serves African-American, Filipino, and Hispanic Catholics.

All in Saint Elizabeth Parish are deeply grateful to Fr. Andrew for his warm, engaging personal manner, his prayerful spirit, and his genuine pastoral care for our parishioners during his year of priestly service here at Saint Elizabeth, an all-too-short stay with us, to be sure. May God bless Fr. Andrew and his ministry among the people of Our Lady of Hope Church in the months and years ahead!

As Fr. Andrew prepared to move to Our Lady of Hope Church, he offered these words of farewell and thanks to the staff and people of Saint Elizabeth Church:

In his appointment letter to me last year, Archbishop Chaput wrote: “As a Parochial Vicar (of Saint Elizabeth Parish), you are called to know and to love the people whom you serve…”  I hope that I have been able to fulfill his words during this past year here with you.

Your prayers and your generous support are so humbling to me and help me a lot as I strive to continue growing in holiness. For this, I will be forever grateful.

I am grateful to Fr. Mullin, for helping me to grow in priestly ministry and showing me a great example to follow as I accept the responsibility of shepherding the faithful of Our Lady of Hope; to the parish and school staff, who have shown that friendship and kindness can go a long way in our efforts to attend to people's pastoral needs; and to all of you, the people of Saint Elizabeth, I am truly indebted.

It was my honor and privilege to serve you. Thank you for allowing me to share in your faith journey. And for times that I may have offended you in any way, I ask for your forgiveness. Please know that my only hope and intention is to bring you and me closer to God.

May our Blessed Mother continue to guide and inspire us to love and serve others tenderly!

-Father Tom Mullin

Ciarlone0010CAPTION: The Ciarlone/Till family serves Saint Elizabeth parish with a tradition of stewardship and active church participation.

Jackie Till graduated from Syracuse University and moved to Pennsylvania from Lake Panamoka, Long Island, NY, where she grew up in a family of five daughters. Tom Ciarlone, a Villanova graduate, grew up in Downingtown and attended Saint Joseph Church. The two were introduced by mutual friends, married in 1994, moved to Chester Springs and have been Saint Elizabeth parishioners since its founding in July 2000.

Tom and Jackie have raised four children: Lucy, Caroline, Randolph, and their youngest, Will, who was baptized at Lionville Middle School during our first year as a parish community. Three of the Ciarlone children have been altar servers. Randolph and Will attended Saint Elizabeth Parish School and played SEAM/CYO basketball and baseball. Tom served on the Parish Stewardship Council and the whole family has participated in the Stewardship Day of Service; their favorite activities have been cleanup work at Camilla Hall on the Immaculata University campus and packing food for Burkina Faso. Lucy, also a Villanova graduate, is an emergency room nurse in Manhattan. Caroline, a Saint Joseph University graduate, works in Philadelphia. Randolph is a junior at Immaculata University, and Will is a Saint Joseph University freshman.

“We love the priests, parishioners and all the opportunities to give back to the community that our parish provides,” said Jackie.

Jackie’s parents, Grace and Randy Till, came to live with the Ciarlone’s four years ago, after living in Long Island all their married life. They met in 1954, were married at Saint Catherine Church in Franklin Square, NY, and will celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary this June! Their five married daughters have given them 19 grandchildren, and they are now awaiting their 8th great-grandchild. Being retired and loving life at Saint Elizabeth parish, they find the community to be warm and welcoming. They are active here, as they were in their former parish. For example, Randy continues his 50-year membership in the Knights of Columbus, and Grace participates in several parish ministries, including Women at the Well, making casseroles for the Saint John Hospice collections and cleaning altar server robes. Both are part of the Senior Adult Ministry (SAM) and enjoy socializing with other seniors.

The Tills are grateful to Jackie and Tom for welcoming them into their home and introducing them to the parish. Grace and Randy encourage other families to join a parish ministry, believing it to be rewarding for any Catholic. Grace summed up her feelings saying, “To be able to help out at Mass and join groups makes us feel needed and appreciated.”

As the Ciarlone/Till family continues to serve Saint Elizabeth parish, their family tradition of stewardship and active church participation sustains the entire community.

~ Lisa Sheronas

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