A fuller story and more photos about the St. Cecilia centennial will appear in the coming weeks.
BEAVERTON — The centennial of St. Cecilia Parish hit a high point this evening, with an international festival yet to come Sunday.
The church was full as Archbishop Alexander Sample came to help the parish mark its milestone.
"You have a beautiful church, and I am taking nothing away from it, but the real St. Cecilia's is you," the archbishop said during his homily. "You are the living stones in this parish community."
At one point during the two-hour liturgy, parishioners carried up old tomes filled with records of baptisms, weddings and funerals. The books were set on a table near the altar, testimony to the people who built up the parish over the past 100 years.
Vintage photos of the parish show a steadily growing community, with only a few first communicants in the early years to almost a hundred in the 1950s. Now, the parish is home to a healthy school and a large Spanish-speaking community.
"This centennial is an opportunity to get excited again and look forward," Archbishop Sample said. "It's a chance to live your Catholic faith with confidence." He told parishioners the church's mission is not to maintain what it has, but to evangelize, bringing other people to faith.
Father Pat McNamee, current pastor of St. Cecilia, welcomed a team of clergy who grew up in the parish or had served there formerly. Msgr. Dennis O'Donovan, former vicar general, returned from retirement in Arizona to visit the parish he pastored a decade ago.
"As we enter into our next 100 years, it is a blessing for us to be here tonight," Father McNamee said.
The parish now has three seminarians studying for the archdiocese, a fact that Archbishop Sample did not miss. He joked that three of the altar servers this evening have also promised to give seminary a try.
"You have a very active and alive parish," the archbishop said.
A Knights of Columbus honor guard was on hand as was Archbishop Sample's mother, Joyce. The parish choir led song and a brass quartet accompanied them. A choir from St. Cecilia School, in uniform, sang Dona Nobis Pacem after Communion, causing some parishioners to weep.
Three large banner hung over the children, reading: "Yesterday. Today. Forever."