Volunteer spirit impresses Laurel church's new pastor


August 13, 1999|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THINGS ARE changing at Resurrection of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Joseph Kitko, pastor of the Laurel parish for 28 years, and pastoral associate Sister Ann Elizabeth Hartnett retired in June.

"Retired" may be the wrong word. Both are going to other parishes to pursue their vocations, Father Kitko to Essex and Sister Ann to Fullerton.

So it is with sorrow at the departure of its leaders and rejoicing at the presence of a new pastor that the congregation welcomes the Rev. John Wielebski.

Father Wielebski, who prefers to be called Father John by his parishioners, is from Milwaukee originally. Most recently, he has been pastor of churches in Reisterstown and Cumberland.

Wielebski began serving Resurrection's parish last month. He says that what has impressed him most about his new digs is the take-charge attitude of his parishioners, or, as he calls it, "the spirit of voluntarism."

"There's a men's group that does all the maintenance," he says. "They've been doing this for years." The group was formed more than 25 years ago, he says, before the congregation had a permanent home.

Father Wielebski sounds a bit surprised by this attitude, given the size of the parish. Under the leadership of Father Kitko, the congregation grew from 90 to 600 families and built the current church complex on Brock Bridge Road.

Resurrection of Our Lord is a bit different from Father Wielebski's former parishes. One had a congregation of more than 3,000 families. The weekly collection was larger, he recalled, and the parish focused on building additions to its school.

Resurrection, however, does not have a school, and its mission is rather different.

The outstanding feature of the Laurel parish is its extraordinary willingness to serve the needs and use the gifts of its members. That's why it has services in Spanish, folk-music services and an annual polka Mass.

That's why the men's club meets Tuesday mornings to fix the church's plumbing and on Monday nights to watch football.

The Altar-Rosary Society decorates the church with flowers -- a traditional task for such a group -- but members also cook a meal a month for Christopher Place, a Baltimore men's shelter. The church also assists more than 23 local families each week, paying for groceries and clothing.

"They don't do this just once in a while," Father Wielebski says. "They do this day in and day out. It's their parish."

The church holds a monthly anniversary Mass, where couples who are celebrating their anniversaries that month are honored. Father Wielebski hopes to build on the strengths of the parishioners and the fine work done by Father Kitko.

He's pleased by the inclusive nature of the community, which welcomes everyone to act and to serve.

The new pastor has been busy meeting his parishioners, attending meetings and conducting services. This Sunday, he plans to attend the church's annual picnic between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Good, cheap food will be available for those who don't wish to cook, as well as games and a festive atmosphere.

In other news at Resurrection, Deacon John Parrish -- having retired from his lay job -- and his wife, Pauline, are moving to North Carolina, where they have family.

Kids' bazaar

It's back and better than ever. In what may become a tradition, Forest Ridge Elementary School is again the site of the Kid's Bazaar," a yard sale sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks that offers items of interest to young families.

The sale will be from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 18. Space for sellers is $12.

It's the perfect place to pick up winter coats and outgrown sports equipment, or to sell the same.

For information, call Recreation and Parks at 410-313-4658.

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