This coming November will mark the 150th anniversary of my parish, St. Cecilia’s of Englewood, NJ. When it was celebrating its centennial, I had just entered the first grade. The intervening past half-century has seen some extraordinary changes in my city, my parish, and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole.
But, no matter what their current experience in life—or even their relationship to their faith—might be, I don’t think that anyone could have passed into this Romanesque structure without being affected by it somehow. As you can see from this photo I've taken, it appears outwardly as a citadel of faith, and inside as a beautiful jewel box of a church, to be sure, but St. Cecilia’s has left its mark primarily as a community.
Bonds were formed on Sunday in the church but solidified, from Monday through Friday, in two institutions that have since closed: the elementary and high schools. No matter where we go, we know somehow that those we made friends with here will be there for us throughout our lives and along our sometimes torturous faith journeys.
In order words, if you want to understand what we're like as individuals, start with this church.