Getting back to its roots
Cooperstown remembers its mother parish
By Shirley Bradley
St. James Parish, Cooperstown, acknowledged its roots May 13 by planting new roots as part of its
150th anniversary at a Sesquicentennial Heritage Day.
It began with a ceremony at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cemetery, Manitowoc Rapids, where
St. James has its roots. Though the church no longer stands, the cemetery is kept up. Fr. Ron Colombo,
pastor, led a prayer service attended by 20 people and a small amount of soil was given to Nick Lyons, a
lifelong St. James parishioner.
Lyons walked with the soil 17 miles from Manitowoc Rapids to St. James, following the route Fr.
Joseph Brunner used 150 years ago. He was joined for a three-mile stretch in Maribel by Sarah Gray,
As they approached Zander Road, they were greeted by Fr. Ron Colombo, pastor, who hugged Lyons,
and 30 parishioners who walked the last half-mile together to the church.
After a short prayer service, John Heiser and Bob Brusky, committee members, helped Lyons plant a tree, mixing the soil from Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary with St. James soil. A Mass and potluck followed.
Fr. Brunner, one of the first Catholic missionaries in Manitowoc County, started six parishes in the area, including St. James. He walked to each of the parishes, said Fr. Colombo, adding, with a smile, "We (parish priests) don't have it so bad!"
"We started as a mission parish," noted Dan Gray, chair of the pastoral council and a member of the sesquicentennial committee. "We are still a strong, viable, active parish looking at changes due to a shortage of priests. The process is going full circle. We have to look at the facts and know that we'll be church and parish people regardless of the merges or linkage that will take place in the future."
The next special event for St. James will be a school reunion on Aug. 5 for anyone who ever attended St. James School. Bp. Robert Banks will preside at a special Mass on Aug. 6, followed by a Jubilee parish picnic open to everyone in the area.