Writer: Rita O’Neill-Wiseman
Having rejoiced, delighted, wept, and prayed, momentarily the parish pauses to reflect on the past. Always surrounded by the faith, hope, and love of the Holy Trinity, the people continue to give life in their Golden Jubilee Years, The Seventies. 1970 A Parish Council replaces the Penta-Council in accordance with directives of Vatican II. On March 15, Monsignor Sweeney’s resignation becomes effective. Awaiting the arrival of a new pastor, Father Raymond E. Bruck is apponited interim administrator for St. Thomas serving until June 14. In July, Father Frederick J. Voss is appointed pastor of St. Thomas. Father Voss is a native of Grand Rapids and St. Mary’s Parish. Ordained in Decemebr of 1943, Father Voss has served many parishes, not the least of which was St. Robert’s of Ada where he was the organizer and first pastor. Father Martin Toolis arrives soon after. As deacon, he continues his studies and is ordained in St. Thomas Church on October 7. During the ordination ceremony, Bishop Breitenbeck appoints Father Toolis as associate pastor of our parish. The Vice Chancellor of the Grand Rapids Diocese, Reverend Joseph Battersby, takes up residence at St. thomas the Apostle rectory. 1971 Father Ronald Schneider is appointed to succeed Father Toolis as associate pastor, and is placed in charge of the parish youth program. First grade is reinstated at St. Thomas School. Father Voss is elected Dean of the Grand Rapids East Deanery. Jeanne Zielinski takes over as parish secretary. 1972 The Annettes continue to serve St. Thomas Parish in many ways. 1973 The 50-Plus Club is organized by Jill and Ron Skinner to promote companionship, congeniality and good will among St. Thomas senior citizens. 1974 The kindergarten is reinstated at St. Thomas School. Father Voss is called to Rome to pursue a three-month course of study. Father Ron Schneider is appointed director of the Diocesan Youth Ministry. Joseph Phillip Amar, son of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip M. Amar is ordained a priest of the Maronite Rite on September 21. In October, the parish celebrates its first fifty years. 1975 Since the retirment of Anna Schulte, Robert Olman has been organist and choir director. The magnificent accompaniments to the 50th anniversary celebrations are a tribute to Bob’s creativity and talent. Recognition is given to several prayerful women who care for votive lights, missalettes, and hymnals daily; Cecelia McGarry, Helen Ronan, Frances Carey, and Marcie Schmidt. As is true of any parish, fund drives take place periodically. Father Voss is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Radical surgery removes the rapidly developing growth. Eventually our much loved priest is robbed of his ability to walk. 1976 The first lay woman becomes a Minister of the Word. In the late fall, the Parish Council holds the Dinner of the Year to showcase the work being accomplished by various commissions. Father Voss continues to concelebrate Mass from a wheelchair, but by Christmas he can no longer be taken to the church. Throughout his illness, parishioners take turns comint into the rectory to care for him. Inspired by the moving example of Father Ron Schneider, the people of St. Thomas give Father Voss loving professional care right in his own home. 1977 In February, Fathe Voss – in a final, gallant effort -appears in the sanctuary at Sunday Mass. Father Bernard Hall comes to St. Thomas as associate pastor. On March 21, at home in the rectory, Father Voss quietly dies. In May, Father Ron Schneider is tranferred to St. Bartholomew Parish in Newaygo. A farewell Mass and reception honor Father Ron on May 4. June marks the installation of Monsignor Walter F. Jude as Pastor of St. Thomas Parish. An afternoon reception is held on the church lawn to welcome him. Monsignor Jude had been involved in pastoral work since his ordination in 1945, serving parishes in Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Winn, Mancelona, Bellaire, Newaygo, and White Cloud. His administrative talents were also evident in his service to the diocese in various roles. A pre-school program for 4-year-olds is initiated with the hope of increasing school enrollment. 1978 Deacon Martin Kurylowicz joins the parish staff. During Eucharistic Days in November, extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and Ministers of the Word are installed. Communal penance services at Christ and Easter are well received by the parish. A Time and Talent Stewardship drive commences. The warm, loving service by the people of St. Thomas in Jesus’ name continues as the activities of the Annettes is absorbed into the Christian Service Commission under the able direction of Sheila Pupel. Girl Scout Brownies Troop 202 is organized. Personnel changes continue as Father Hall leaves to pursue graduate studies. Soon, Monsignor Sweeney moves into the rectory at Holy Trinity, Alpine. Father Jude in transferred to St. Simon & St. Stanislaus, Ludington. Father James C. Cusack arrives on July 2nd, coming to St. Thomas from Our Lady of Consolation, Rockford, where he was the first pastor. He also served as pastor at Assumption, Belmont, and St. Henry and Mission at Rosebush, and as assistant at several other parishes. Sister Lydia Korson, O.P., assumes duties as the new principal for fall 1978. Kindergarten enrollment increases due to the successful preschool program. Sunday morning religious education programs are initiated, including special education for handicapped children. 1979 Rverend Dennis Wagner and Reverend Terry Stewart are in residence. In February, a high school guitar group offers to provide music at the 9:30 Mass on Sundays. Heartily accepted by members of the parish, they come to be known as “The Little Lights.” A St. Thomas Week of Renewal with Father Emery Tang takes place in late April. Participation of the laity in sacramental ministry is moving forward at St. Thomas. Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist carry the Blessed Sacrament to about 25-30 shut-ins weekly. Recognizing the need for a sacristan, the parish council appoints Marcia Carbines to serve in this capacity. Marcia also agrees to care for the flowers fro the altars. Father Phillip Shangraw, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Shangraw, is ordained and celebrates his first Mass at St. Thomas on May 5. September kicks off ann Immediate Action Drive to increase revenues, pay off the debt and provide funds for the church renovation. The parish congratulates Pastor Emeritus Monsignor Raymond J. Sweeney on his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. Distribution of the Eucharist under both species at weekend Masses begins in the Fall. In October, Father Daniel Aerts joins us as a ssociate pastor. Around the first of December, plans to renovate the church according to decrees of Vatican II are announced.