The centennial celebration of service to St. John the Baptist Parish, Ottsville, by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart culminated with a 2.5 mile procession through the Bucks County town and nine days of special liturgies, including a closing Mass on June 23 celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior.
The religious order has sent priests, sisters and brothers to serve the parish since 1912. At the time, the parish was distant, small and rural – making it difficult to administer by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and perhaps better served by a missionary order.
A century later, the parish remains among the northern outposts of the archdiocese in Bucks County — and the order continues to serve.
The centennial celebration closed with a nine-day novena of prayer, beginning with an open-air Mass at Old St. John the Baptist on Saturday, June 15. For each of the subsequent six evenings at 7, prayers in the old church were led by parishioners from the various townships that comprise the nearly 100-square mile parish.
On June 22 the celebration moved from the historical roots of the parish to the current worship site on Route 412. The Blessed Sacrament was carried in a procession ending with Mass celebrated by Father Raymond Diesbourg, M.S.C., provincial superior of the order in the United States and a former pastor of the parish.
The ninth and final day of the novena prayer concluded with Mass celebrated by Bishop Senior and a banquet immediately following in the school gymnasium.
A 36-page history of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the parish, edited and assembled by parochial vicar Father Tony Ripp, M.S.C., was distributed at the banquet.
The current pastor, Father Simione Volavola, M.S.C., said the celebration helped all the parishioners “renew our faith, especially in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
The anniversary was “a special time of grace to recall the legacy of the last 100 years, to thank our predecessors for their vision and perseverance, and to strengthen our own resolve to be like our patron, St. John the Baptist, a harbinger of the hope found in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”