LANSING | Parishioners packed St. Ann Catholic Church on Saturday to witness Francis Cardinal George celebrate a Mass in recognition of the parish's 100th anniversary.
Mary Schurke, a St. Ann parishioner for 62 years, stood in the vestibule of the church prior to the start of Mass and spoke of the honor it was to have the cardinal attend the celebration.
"It's a privilege and it's a very holy time for us and we're very excited about it," Schurke said.
Bob Cole, a parishioner for 57 years, referred to the occasion as a "once in a lifetime occurrence."
"It's a wonderful tribute to the community and to the church that it's been here for a hundred years," Cole said. "A lot of churches don't make it that long."
Cardinal George was warmly welcomed when introduced by the church's pastor, the Rev. William McFarlane.
The cardinal began his homily by expressing his pleasure to be in attendance.
"I'm very grateful that I can be with you for the beginning of the centenary, celebrating a hundred years of grace that constitute the life of St. Ann's Parish," Cardinal George said.
He explained why it was extra special for him to come to St. Ann's.
"This was the first church that I consecrated when I returned almost 17 years ago now, to Chicago as archbishop," Cardinal George said.
McFarlane thanked the cardinal for attending the Mass, as well as others who made the celebration possible.
"Many of you are a part of the history of this parish," McFarlane said. "It exists because of you."
McFarlane spoke of how the people were told in the Gospel read earlier that they should pray without growing weary.
"Tonight, we celebrate our hundredth anniversary, and we are not weary," he said.
After Mass, about 600 people were expected to attend a dinner dance celebration at the Serbian Social Center in Lansing.