St. William Catholic Church celebrates closing of centennial year

By Randy Bruce

October 7, 2013

There was actually dancing in the street this Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at St. William Catholic Church in Durant.

Bishop Edward J. Slattery joined the parish in the closing of their centennial year celebration by presiding at the 11:30 am Mass. He was assisted by Monsignor Patrick J. Brankin. Father Valerian Gonsalves, the Pastor of St. William Church, Father Joseph Chirayath, Father John Choorackunnel,and Father Paul Kodakarakaran concelebrated the Mass with the Bishop.The altar servers for the Mass were Kelly Mitchell, Brooklyn Pilgreen and Aleisha Stonerock. The music during the Mass was led by Aaron Williams and accompanied on the organ by Vincent Focus.

Bishop Slattery gave an insightful homily regarding living our faith in God. He also blessed the children who were part of his entrance before Mass as they will be making their First Communion in May of next year.

Following the Mass, Bishop Slattery was treated to a performance of dancing by the parish’s Hispanic community, performed right in front of the church. The costumes were colorful and the dancers performed their dances with a flair. Everyone especially enjoyed the dance performed by the children. I am sure the music, the hand clapping, and laughter could be heard down the street. The congregation was then invited to adjourn to the parish hall where the Altar Society and Hispanic ladies had prepared a delicious fare of lasagnas, spaghetti, tamales, and other interesting dishes. On this occasion, the parish hall was packed, giving testimony that a new parish hall is needed.

Bishop Slattery gave the blessing before the meal. Clint Morrison, welcomed all the guests and gave a little information regarding the history of St. William parish. He indicated that the Choctaw Nation played a big part in the parish’s founding. He reminded those of the parish about the book regarding the parish’s history written by Henry L. Harder, was still available. Father Valerian Gonsalves, better known to his parish as Father Valley, presented a copy of the history book to Jane Umsted , who was there representing the Choctaw Nation. Father also presented copies of the book to Sharon Morrison, Library Director for Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Not only were the guests there to bring the centennial to a close, they were able to view the purposed new parish hall prints provided by Architectural Draftsman, Francisco Javier Perez Stigers and She Pilgreen, the Applications Engineer works for Rural Enterprises, Inc. With all the formalities finished, gifts given, thanks to you given, the congregation enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship and good food. Other honored guests present for this wonderful celebration were: Sarah Voorhies, Yoko Weems, Margaret Schiebe, Natalia Duval, Joan and Larry Minks, President of SOSU, Sister Liissy of the Congregation of the sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and Mother General, Rose Kate.