Minneapolis parish honors active members over 90

| July 31, 2013 | 0 Comments
Phoebe Nosker, 98, talks with Dorothy Berghoff about the flowers on the table during a brunch July 27 at St. Bridget in Minneapolis to honor active members of the parish over 90 years old. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

Phoebe Nosker, 98, talks with Dorothy Berghoff about the flowers on the table during a brunch July 27 at St. Bridget in Minneapolis to honor active members of the parish over 90 years old. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

St. Bridget in Minneapolis honored active parishioners who are age 90 or older with a special Mass and brunch July 27.

“I believe it’s important to honor and recognize these people because they have been models and examples of faithfulness, dedication and commitment for so many years,” said Franciscan Father Anthony Criscitelli, pastor of St. Bridget.

Father Criscitelli said he wanted to do something like this for a long time. He spent five years at the parish as an associate pastor in the early 1980s and returned as pastor in 2002.

“When I returned here after 20 years, I saw that many of the same folks who were active and invested in the life of the parish at that time were still active and invested — maybe in a different way or to a lesser degree, but active and invested nonetheless,” he said.

Father Criscitelli helped guide the parish through a merger with St. Austin in Minneapolis last year and realized that there were just as many active seniors there. Between the two parishes, he identified 54 over age 90 who come to Mass regularly, participate in ministries and attend events.

The idea to celebrate the senior parishioners came from a few religious communities that have similar events for aging sisters, he said. The parish staff was very supportive of the idea and agreed to host the event.

“Our church has never had anything like this and I think its wonderful,” said Margaret Bach, 90, one of the 26 seniors who attended the event.

During the brunch, Father Criscitelli asked if there was anyone present that was 99 years old. No hands went up. “Is anyone 98?” he asked. Ninety-eight-year-old Phoebe Nosker enthusiastically raised her hand. He asked her what her secret is to a long life. “Always be happy,” she said. “Be kind to everyone.”

Father Criscitelli sees these long-time parishioners giving stability and a sense of continuity to the parish community as they adapt to the changes they have experienced recently.

“I see firsthand how very special they are and how fortunate we are to have them among us,” Father Criscitelli said. “ In a very real way, they are among the treasures of the Church and of our parish community.”

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