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Bishop Koenig helps St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington celebrate 75 years: ‘People have been nourished and strengthened’ — Photo gallery

Bishop Koenig greets students before Mass celebrating St. Elizabeth Church 75th Anniversary, Sunday, Nov. 6. Dialog photo/Don Blake

Present and former priests and parishioners from St. Elizabeth Parish in Wilmington gathered Nov. 6 to celebrate the feast day of their patroness, and to mark the 75th anniversary of the dedication of St. Elizabeth Church, “a monument to the faith of the people,” according to a lifelong parishioner.

Michael Hare, a founder and member of the feast day committee and one of the planners of the 75th anniversary activities, said the church is the crowning work of the late Msgr. James M. Grant, a former pastor.

“This is a special day, and it is so appropriate that we celebrate in November, a month of remembrance, a month of thanksgiving,” Hare said.

Bishop Koenig delivered the homily inside the building where he was ordained a bishop in July 2021. He said it was the location of many ordinations, baptisms, weddings, funerals and other milestones.

“People have been nourished and strengthened by receiving the Body of Christ at Mass, and absolved through the sacrament of reconciliation,” he said.

Bishop Koenig during consecration at Mass celebrating St. Elizabeth Church 75th Anniversary, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. Joining the bishop are, from left, Fathers Roger DiBuo, John McVoy and Charles Dillingham, Deacon Ken Pulliam, Father Norm Carroll, Deacon Walter Ferris, and Fathers Glenn Evers, Daniel Gerres and Joseph Piekarski. Dialog photo/Don Blake

The church was dedicated on Nov. 9, 1947, by Bishop Edmund J. Fitzmaurice, who was the ordinary in the Diocese of Wilmington for 35 years.

“It really has stood the test of time, hasn’t it?” Bishop Koenig asked. “It’s still beautiful.”

The bishop gave thanks for the people who built the church, then turned his attention to its namesake, St. Elizabeth. The mother of John the Baptist is an example of faith to whom all Catholics can look. When it was founded in 1908, St. Elizabeth Parish was the first in the United States to be dedicated to her.

“Over these 114 years, St. Elizabeth has interceded for us, has inspired us, has been an example for us. As we look at her life, let us reflect on two of her saintly qualities,” Bishop Koenig said.

One of those was never saying no. St. Elizabeth was advanced in years and childless when an angel visited her with the news that she was carrying a son. The saint embraced God’s plan and became a very important part of our salvation history, the bishop said.

Secondly, St. Elizabeth saw beneath the surface. Bishop Koenig said when she found out Mary was pregnant, Elizabeth called her “’the mother of my Lord.’ You see, Elizabeth sees with not only her physical eyes, but the eyes of faith and trust.

“May we never say never, but look to what God is calling us to do. May we look to Elizabeth and never say we’re too old,” the bishop said. He continued, “May we be strengthened as a parish and as individuals to see with the eyes of faith.”

At the end of Mass, Father Roger DiBuo, who assumed the pastorate of St. Elizabeth this past summer, thanked the bishop for the opportunity to carry on the tradition of the parish. He noted that a large bronze plaque on the wall of the church portico noted who was present when the church was dedicated. The list includes 20 bishops, two abbots, 50 monsignors and more than 200 priests, along with the Benedictine Sisters who staffed the parish school.

“What a beginning St. Elizabeth had,” he said. “This sacred place is very unique indeed.”

Father DiBuo assured the congregation that the parish will continue to celebrate the memory of St. Elizabeth and that it will continue to build “physically and spiritually” for the future members of the parish.

“We will work hard and pray harder,” Father DiBuo said.