FRENCH CREEK — Christ Our Hope Parish in French Creek and Sherman held a parish celebration, entitled "United In Christ Our Hope," in February. The brainchild of Father Mark Itua worked to help further unify St. Matthias parishioners in French Creek and St. Isaac Jogues parishioners in Sherman. The two parishes merged in 2008 and worked well together, but Father Itua decided a unity weekend would improve the long-term life of the parish.
The weekend began Friday night with speaker John Lampard giving a PowerPoint presentation on Jesus: "The Reason for Our Hope." This event took place at St. Isaac's and was well attended. Saturday's events were held in the Findley Lake Community Center with games and activities for all ages. Food, crafts, a religious-oriented puppet show, presentations in the Historical Society and the Wildlife Center, and a themed-dinner capped off the day.
Bishop Richard J. Malone presided over Sunday Mass at St. Matthias. Following Mass, the parish presented him with a portrait of his dog, Timon, done in pastels by parishioner Sue Wolfe. A group photo, taken by Kathleen Antkowiak, consisted of Bishop Malone; Father Itua; Father Ryszard Biernat, secretary to the bishop; Deacon David Armstrong, who serves at the parish; and all in attendance gathered around the altar.
Father Itua thanked everyone who participated, especially chairperson Melva Rowan and everyone who helped on the planning committee. Parishioners agreed that the weekend surpassed all expectations and that future events will also involve both churches.