Local Parishes

St. Francis Xavier Parish celebrates centennial

Leaven photo by Marc Anderson Father Marianand Mendem, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Mayetta, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrate the parish’s centennial Mass on Oct. 6. Father Mendem was also installed as pastor earlier that day.

Father Marianand Mendem, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Mayetta, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrate the parish’s centennial Mass on Oct. 6. Father Mendem was also installed as pastor earlier that day. Leaven photo by Marc Anderson.

by Marc and Julie Anderson

MAYETTA — At 93, Doris Foster is one of the oldest members of St. Francis Xavier Parish here. She’s also one of the members with the longest number of years spent at the parish, having joined it more than 50 years ago.

She’s always been involved in some way. So it was no surprise to anyone that Foster made all of the pickles served at a sit-down luncheon, one of four activities held on Oct. 6 to mark the parish’s centennial anniversary.

The festivities also included the praying of the rosary as a parish, a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the blessing of a monument dedicated to the unborn, donated to the parish by Knights of Columbus Council 9535.

The Mass was concelebrated by Father Marianand Mendem who was officially installed earlier in the day as the parish’s pastor as well as the pastor of nearby St. Dominic Parish in Holton and Our Lady of the Snows Shrine on the Pottawatomi Reservation. Additionally, three former pastors — Father Carl Dekat, Father Bob Hasenkamp and Father Tom Hesse, all retired from active ministry — concelebrated the Mass. Monsignor Gary Applegate served as the master of ceremonies.

Surrounded by several members of her family at the luncheon, Foster reminisced about her parish involvement throughout the past several decades.

“I enjoy church work. I really do,” said Foster, adding that she had made 18 bowls of pickles for the luncheon.

Through the years, she has been involved in religious education classes, the Altar Society and even the choir. She also made sure her six kids got to Mass and were involved in  parish life as well. Yet, it’s in the kitchen that she always felt at home.

“I lived in the kitchen,” Foster joked. She often assisted with the food for parish events, including parish bazaars (one of her personal favorites) and youth group fundraisers. To this day, she assists in the annual baking of more than 50 dozen cinnamon rolls for the parish youth group.

Foster’s favorite moment of the eventful day came early when the archbishop prayed over a young expectant mother after first blessing the monument to the unborn. Why was Foster so thrilled by this? The mother is carrying her great-great-grandchild, and she’s been praying regularly for both the mother and the baby.

“That was my favorite moment,” said Foster.

The parish celebration fell on Respect Life Sunday as well as on the opening day of the second Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome. During his homily, the archbishop explained the importance of celebrating anniversaries within families, but also within parishes.

“It’s important in families to celebrate anniversaries, and it’s also important in parish families to do that as well,” the archbishop said. He encouraged all those gathered to be thankful for those who had gone before them in faith.

Near the end of his remarks, the archbishop discussed the Scripture readings and their importance on the parish’s centennial anniversary, tying them in with the recent papal visit and the opening of the synod in Rome.

“[The readings] speak to us about the importance of marriage and family life,” Archbishop Naumann told the crowd, sharing with them that the pope came to the United States because he wanted “to show his support and encouragement for families. . . . The readings today challenge us to realize the importance of marriage.”

“In giving ourselves away in love is when we find the true meaning and purpose of life,” the archbishop said, adding the centennial provides an opportunity to “recommit ourselves to living our Catholic faith and living it in a special way.”

Ultimately, the archbishop said, when families flourish, parishes thrive, the archdiocese thrives and, finally, the church thrives as well.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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