The Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati runs a story on the 175th anniversary of Dayton’s Emmanuel parish, which became an oasis of liturgical fidelity and orthodoxy under its late longtime pastor, Father Lee Sciarrotta, S.M., who succumbed to cancer in 2010. The CT article notes the parish’s “traditional piety” and Fr. Sciarrotta’s outreach efforts to homeschooling families and Rwandan refugees. When the Dayton Daily News mentioned that communicants received on the tongue at a communion rail in a piece eulogizing Fr. Sciarrotta in 2010, members of the liturgical establishment downtown went into a lather about how “the norm” in the United States is to receive while standing. In any event, it’s a good story, and one hopes Fr. Sciarrotta’s legacy lives on.

Throughout the history of the parish, the Society of Mary (Marianists) has had a profound influence upon the parishioners, especially in fostering a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. For a large portion of the parish’s history, the Marianists taught in the parochial school, along with the School Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Then, in 1956, Archbishop Karl J. Alter asked the Marianists to assume the pastoral care and administration of the parish, a mission they faithfully fulfilled until 2010. At that time, the decision was made to turn the care of the parish over to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood as part of Pastoral Region 7 in downtown Dayton, which includes Holy Trinity and St. Joseph parishes. The pastoral region is currently served by Precious Blood Fathers Angelo Anthony as pastor and Ken Pleiman as parochial vicar.

A driving force for the parish in the last 25 years was the shepherd’s care of Marianist Father Lee Sciarrotta, who served as pastor from 1988-2010. His Italian spirit and traditional piety guided the faithful in many ways, encouraging outreach to Rwandan refugees, annual Corpus Christi processions, the development of a strong St. Vincent de Paul Conference and opening the doors of the former school to the Dayton Catholic Homeschool community.

On Nov. 18, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr presided over the anniversary Mass, which was filled with traditional sacred music and a procession of servers, Knights of Columbus, Knights of the Holy Sepulcher and many concelebrating priests. One highlight of the liturgy was the presentation of the gifts by Virginia Hicks, a parishioner who was baptized at Emmanuel Church 100 years ago this year.

Looking to the future, the parish desires to be a vibrant faithful presence within the Dayton community letting the light of Christ illuminate our hearts and minds like the beauty of a stain glass window so that we might continue to give witness to the truth of Emmanuel, God with us.

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