It’s not every day that people get to witness a Catholic church floating down the street. However, on the Fourth of July, parade-goers in Southampton had the opportunity to see a 16×7 foot three-dimensional replica of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church roll by, complete with painted stained glass windows, a gold-colored Blessed Mother on the eave of the church, and “stones” affixed to the sides of the church.
Creating the church replica and participating in the Fourth of July parade was a novel part of the parish’s yearlong 100th anniversary celebration.
Patty Stanton, co-chair of the parish’s 100th anniversary committee, said Bobby Moeser, a 1998 graduate of Our Lady of Good Counsel School, spent a few days building the wood structure.
Stanton noted that every feature of the actual church was incorporated into the replica.
“Bobby’s mother Adriene (Moeser) and fellow parishioner Nancy Frank did most of the fine details of painting the stained -glass windows and figuring out how to make the stones on the church look like actual stones,” Stanton said. “Each stone was individually painted and glued onto the replica. We even attached replicas of the pew ends to the chairs on the float so that the people sitting on the float looked like they were actually sitting in pews.”
Stanton estimated that volunteers spent more than 100 hours preparing the replica for the parade. “A lot of hard work was put into it, and it was the focal point of our entry in the parade,” she said. “People were amazed by it because it was so large.”
Members of the parish’s Knights of Columbus Council also marched in the Fourth of July Parade, with Father Robert Suskey, OLGC pastor, riding in an antique car behind them.
“Everybody told me that we had the best float in the parade, and I really believe we did,” Stanton added. “It was such a nice representation of the parish, and I think everybody really felt good about it.”
Many OLGC parishioners came out to enjoy the July 4th festivities and see the large replica of their church in the parade.
“They were all cheering as we were driving along the parade route,” Stanton said. “When parishioners saw us, they were applauding and waving at us. It was really very nice.”
Now that the Fourth of July Parade has happened, Stanton is hopeful that parishioners will have an opportunity to view the replica at the church.
“We’re scrambling to figure out what to do with the replica so that it gets a little bit of play after all the hard work that went into it,” she said. “Father Suskey thinks we may be able to put it in the bottom of the Trinity Center for a period of time so that people can view it and appreciate it.”
It’s been a busy centennial year for the Bucks County parish. The parish, which has approximately 3,200 families, kicked off its anniversary celebration last September with an opening Mass and reception.
In addition to the Mass, a month-long collection for the community’s food pantries was organized by parishioner Steve Hall.
“He coordinated with the various local food pantries and found out exactly what they needed,” Stanton said. “Parishioners were asked to donate different items each week, and we collected gift cards and cash. I think we ended up getting over $18,000 in cash for the month.”
A second food collection is planned for later this summer, Stanton added.
Guided tours of the church were held quarterly, with Nancy Frank and Father Suskey sharing the stories behind the stained-glass windows in the church and explaining how the church was built.
“Nancy shared the history of when our parish was built, why certain materials were used, and the symbolism behind them,” Stanton said. “We have a very wide, large roof that is supposed to be reflective of heaven, and the stone that was used was fieldstone, to reflect how heaven and earth meet.”
A parish picnic, which featured a chili cook off contest, and a ministry fair were held last fall. This year’s special events included a Comedy Beef and Beer Night with local comedian Joe Conklin, a Valentine Mass for married couples, a Communion Breakfast, an Our Lady of Good Counsel feast day celebration, and a May Procession with OLGC students and students in the parish’s PREP program.
Stanton said she and John Saracino, co-chair of the 100th anniversary committee, have received many positive comments about the anniversary events, and parishioners have expressed their gratitude for the work they did in planning the centennial celebration.
“We tried to encompass both spiritual and social events that would bring people together,” Stanton said. “The motto for our centennial year is ‘Remember, Rejoice and Renew,’ remembering our past and the people who came before us and built the parish, rejoicing in the present and all the gifts our parish has, and renewing our commitment to the parish.”
Our Lady of Good Counsel’s 100th anniversary year will close with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez on Sunday, Sept. 10. A gala dinner will follow at Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland.
“We’re looking forward to our closing celebration,” Stanton added. “The highlight will be having Archbishop Pérez at the final Mass and our big celebration dinner.”
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