The Solano County Catholic community at St. Basil Parish came together in large numbers and a jubilant spirit to celebrate their 60th anniversary Nov. 4.
Bishop William K. Weigand presided and Father Leon Juchniewicz, pastor, served as homilist at an 11:30 a.m. Mass which was attended by more than 1,000 people.
"It was a very joyful celebration," Father Juchniewicz said. "Given the events of Sept. 11, it was an opportunity to come together, lift our spirits and know the feeling of community."
In a statement to parishioners, Father Juchniewicz shared his vision for a church in which members continue to be "enthusiastically in love with our faith…who participate fully in parish life…and care for and help one another both spiritually and physically."
Bishop William K. Weigand blesses a new parish garden honoring former pastor Father William Storan. Other participants in the ceremony included Father Leon Juchniewicz, left, pastor, and Deacon Mike Urick. Estrella Bibbey/Herald photo
The liturgy included a special presentation by Bishop Weigand of the Benemerenti Medal to parishioner Rita Struble. The papal honor is conferred to men and women for exceptional accomplishment and service.
Struble, 79, serves as a lector and eucharistic minister, is the founder of the Lazarus Ministry, an outreach to bereaved parishioners, and has organized renewal weekend retreats for 15 years. She is also a member of numerous parish committees and helps count the collections every week.
Father William Storan, former St. Basil pastor, who nominated Struble for the honor, described her as "a woman of exceptional integrity…kind, gentle, caring, very loving, and a woman of strong faith."
Struble is the fifth person in the history of the Sacramento Diocese to receive the Benemerenti Medal.
Other activities included the dedication of a new parish garden, named in honor of Father Storan, following Mass.
Pictures, artifacts and other items of interest were on display at the brunch reception served in the St. Basil School gymnasium.
St. Basil was founded on July 1, 1941. The first Mass was celebrated on Aug. 3, 1941, at the Portuguese Hall in Vallejo, and the church building was completed in 1942.