The ”Catholic Community of Western Cranston”, as the parish was first called, was established in 1991,the first new parish to be established in the Diocese of Providence in over twenty years. Its history actually dates back to the mid 1980s when the Bishop of Providence, the Most Reverend Louis E. Gelineau, realized that the fastest rate of growth in the diocese was taking place in the western section of the City of Cranston. Concerned with the pastoral and spiritual needs of this growing community, Bishop Gelineau directed his staff to locate a tract of land that someday could be used to build a church. In 1989, the diocese purchased seven acres of land on the corner of Pippin Orchard Road and Scituate Avenue. Following lengthy consultations with the pastors of Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Ann Parish in Cranston, St. Bridget Parish in Johnston, St. Joseph Parish in North Scituate and SS. Peter and Paul Parish in West Warwick the boundaries for the new parish were established.
On June 23, 1991, Bishop Gelineau and the Reverend Francis O’Hara, the first pastor, gathered with some of the founding families to bless the “site” which would someday be their permanent home. The parish began with close to three hundred registered families. Breaking with tradition, the Bishop invited the parishioners to submit their choices of names for the new parish. Following many long and spirited meetings, the name Holy Apostles was selected.
On July 25, 1991, the feast of St. James the Apostle, Bishop Gelineau formally and canonically established Holy Apostles Parish. During the first summer, one Mass was sufficient to accommodate the worshipping community. It was celebrated on Sunday mornings at the Alpine Country Club. In September 1991, the parish rented an office/warehouse unit on Plainfield Pike, which served the spiritual, religious education and administrative needs of the parish for the next three years. The worship space, in the warehouse section of the unit, had three hundred folding chairs, and a “sanctuary area” furnished with donated items from a number of parishes in the diocese. As one parishioner stated, “the warehouse, although primitive and simple, was our church and our home”. With a steady growth in the number of new families, preliminary planning for a permanent church began in March of 1992 under the direction of the Reverend Richard Sheahan, who had been named pastor in January.
With approval from the bishop, Father Sheahan began the search for an architect and a company to conduct a capital fund drive. Beginning in the summer of 1992, and continuing for close to a year, a committee of parishioners together with the architectural firm of Dennis Keefe and Associates from Boston designed the church and parish center. During this same period, the parish undertook what proved to be a most successful capital fund drive, raising over $1,000,000 in gifts and pledges.
In June 1992, the parish purchased a house in a development off Comstock Parkway to serve as a rectory for Father Sheahan. The parish sold this property in 1994 and built the present rectory on church property. In the process of securing the necessary permits from the various state and local authorities, Father Sheahan was informed that the “site” for the new church had been identified as “historically sensitive'” by the Rhode Island Historical Society as a possible site of a Native American and/or prehistoric settlement. The parish was required by law to retain a certified archeological company to conduct an “archeological dig” on the property. Although fragments of some historical significance were found, it was determined that the site had not been used for an Indian settlement.
On July 25, 1993, only two years after being established, Bishop Gelineau returned to the “site” with Father Sheahan and an enthusiastic crowd of parishioners and friends to officiate at the formal ground breaking ceremonies. Construction began in August with the contract having been awarded to O. Ahlborg & Sons of Cranston. Despite some major difficulties encountered during the site excavation phase, and a particularly harsh winter, construction was completed in less than one year. During the entire project photographs of the various stages of construction were on display back at the warehouse. Excitement mounted, of course, as the building took on a more and more recognizable shape. Even the children who would pass by the site on their school buses would report to their parents changes they noticed that day.
There were two highlights during the construction worth noting. The first was the placing and lighting of a Christmas tree high on top of the center section of the four main arches on December 23, 1993. It was a bright Christmas for the entire Holy Apostles family. The second was the placement of the church’s steeple in the center of the roof in April 1994. Many a passerby stopped to witness a building being transformed into a church. It was a breathtaking and emotional sight to see the gold cross tower above the rural beauty of Western Cranston.
One special memory during the final weeks prior to “moving in” was the landscaping of the south lawn and the front section of the rectory. Parishioner volunteers of all ages and professions dug holes and planted the trees and shrubs and rolled out what seemed an endless number of pallets of sod. Hundreds of flowering plants were planted in the Memorial Garden and in the other planting beds throughout the property.
During both the planning and the construction phases, Holy Apostles continued to grow and develop into a vibrant community of faith. The first year, the Religious Education Program was an informal home based program. Beginning in September 1992, the program was under the direction of Mrs. Margaret Simms who had been appointed full time Director of Religious Education.
With the assistance of over 50 volunteers, the program provided formal classes for children in grades 1-10. Each week, the worship space would be set up for CCD classes with tables and chairs and movable partitions for some privacy. The front rooms, including Father Sheahan’s office, were also used for class. At each of the weekend Masses, a children’s Liturgy of the Word was conducted in the front meeting room. This same room also served as a Chapel for weekday Mass.
An Adult Choir was established in the fall of 1993 under the direction of Mrs. Cecelia Rodi, a parishioner, singing for the first time at Thanksgiving. The parish hired Mr. Henri St. Louis as parish organist in March of 1994. Realizing the importance of reaching out to serve those less fortunate, the parish conducted a weekly food drive of non-perishable food items for McAuley House in Providence. For the youth, the parish sponsored basketball teams in the Providence South C.Y.O. league. In the spring of 1993, the parish held its first Annual Dinner Dance, and during the same year an annual Twenty-Week Club fund-raiser was established.
On May 2, 1992, Father Sheahan celebrated the first First Communion Mass with 23 children and on April 24, 1993, Bishop Gelineau conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation for the first time on 24 candidates. The warehouse was “decked out” in all its finery for these two special celebrations, as it was for all the major feasts and holy days. The Liturgical Art and Environment Committee did wonders.
Although the Sacrament of Marriage was celebrated in the churches where the bride or groom were previously members, the Sacrament of Baptism was celebrated monthly with a total of 83 infants christened during the close to three years the parish was in the warehouse. The parish also celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for five parishioners who were called to Eternal Life.
The final Masses in the warehouse were celebrated on the last weekend of June 1994, with special recognition for the sacraments celebrated and the countless blessings received while in our temporary home. Although it was a sad good-bye, with not a few tears shed, our warehouse days would long be remembered. The first Mass in the new church was celebrated on Saturday July 2, 1994 at 5pm. Allowing a few weeks to “work out the bugs,” the formal Dedication Ceremonies began with Evening Prayer on Friday, July 22nd attended by close to 100 priests of the diocese. Following the service, the priests were invited to a reception in the parish center.
On Sunday, July 24, 1994 at 2:00 PM on the third anniversary of being established, the parish celebrated with gratitude and immense joy, a dream come true, the Dedication of Holy Apostles Church. The Principal Celebrant for the two-hour Liturgy of Dedication was the Most Reverend Louis E. Gelineau, Bishop of Providence, assisted by the Reverend Richard D. Sheahan and the Reverend Marcel E. Pincince. In attendance was the Most Reverend Daniel P. Reilly, a native son of the diocese, and, at the time, the Bishop of Norwich. Visiting clergy representing the entire diocese concelebrated the Mass. At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Sheahan presented Bishop Gelineau with the plaque naming the parish center in his honor, citing the Bishop’s personal interest and commitment to insuring a successful beginning for Holy Apostles. The Bishop Louis Gelineau Parish Center was the first facility in the diocese named in the Bishop’s honor. A full-length video of the entire Mass is in the parish archives. Following the ceremony, a gala reception was held in the center and under a big tent in the rear parking area.
Between 1994 and 2000, the parish experienced unparalleled growth in the number of new families, and in the programs and services provided for parishioners and the wider community. Registered families swelled from the original 300 to over to 1,500, the number of infant Baptisms rose to close to 100 per year, and the number of children preparing for First Holy Communion exceeded 130. Enrollment in the School of Religion topped 1200 in classes for children beginning in Kindergarten through the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation in grade 11 with over 100 parishioners serving as teachers and mentors. To assist the school’s director, the parish hired Mr. Michael Santilli in 1995 as part time coordinator for the junior high school grades, later expanding his area of responsibility to include the Confirmation Program. The summer of 1995 saw the start of a week long annual summer Bible Camp where close to 80 children enjoy Bible stories, arts & crafts, games and surprise visitors. The parish also established a Video Library where families are able to borrow a video after Mass from a wide selection for children, young adults and adults. To further enhance and develop the parish’s strong commitment to its music ministry, the parish hired Mr. Mark Colozzi in the summer of 1996 as a second Music Director.
Beginning in September 1996, the parish began a youth ministry program for its high school teens and junior high members. Most noteworthy was the establishment of a monthly Sunday night Teen Mass with the teens participating in all the liturgical roles. Its immediate success led to the Teen Mass being held twice each month starting in January 1997. In September 1998, the parish joined several hundred other parishes throughout the United States in offering the Life Teen Program to its teens. Since that time, Teen Mass has been celebrated on Sunday evenings at 5:30pm, and on alternate weeks the teens are invited to attend a Life Night in the Parish Center. A Core Group of 16 adults, under the direction of Mike Santilli, coordinate the Life Teen Program.
In early 1997, the parish developed a well balanced and comprehensive program of Social Concerns with a number of annual activities including bi-annual clothing drives, weekly and seasonal food collections, an Advent “Adopt a Family Program”, and the monthly “Bag People Program” for the children in grades K-5. All of these efforts are for the benefit of local non-profit agencies and parishes in Providence and the greater Cranston area. For a special project, Holy Apostles “adopted” St. Charles Parish in Providence with special assistance with their weekly soup kitchen providing volunteers and food.
One outreach program that continues to serve the needs of our own parishioners is the Feed My Sheep Ministry that began in the fall of 1994. This ministry provides meals for families experiencing a time of great joy, such as the birth of a new child, or at a time when a family is facing illness or the loss of a loved one in death.
Our social and recreational programs for our younger parishioners expanded to include our own Cub Scout Pack 12, Brownie and Girl Scout Troop and a full range of Basketball Teams for the Diocesan League. In 1999 our Junior Youth Ministry Program was put under the direction of Mrs. Fran Reissen and offers regularly scheduled social events for our young parishioners in Grades 6-8. Since 1994, the parish has published an annual “Opportunity to Serve” booklet which lists all the programs and services provided by the parish and a call for parishioners to sign up and volunteer their time and talent.
Each year more and more parishioners are enhancing the vitality of the parish with their spirit of volunteerism. It is this spirit that makes Holy Apostles so special. On Saturday, November 11, 1995, on the Face of Religion page, the Providence Journal did a full-page feature story on the parish entitled “Holy Apostles has a caring spirit.”
Although our “Patron Saints” are the twelve Apostles, St. James has a particular place in our history and in our hearts. It was on the Feast of St. James that the parish was established, ground was broken and the church was dedicated on the day before his feast. For this reason, it is fitting that a statue of this saint was placed in the center of the Memorial Garden. This beautiful bronze statue was a gift to Holy Apostles on the occasion of our second anniversary in 1996.
In addition to the “Apostles at Pentecost” stained glass window occupying a place of prominence behind the altar, the two rose windows in the nave were also done in stained glass. The one on the south side with the theme “Spirit and Knowledge” was installed in 1995 and the north window with the “Eucharist” as its theme was installed in 1998. In 1999, the last rose window located in the Gathering Area was completed with the theme “Our Stewardship over Creation”. It depicts the rural nature of the area with special emphasis on farming. All four windows were designed and fabricated by the Lynn Hovey Studio in Boston.
With the growth in the number of new parishioners, the attendance at weekend Masses exceeded the church’s seating capacity. In December of 1998, new pews were installed in the front and along the rear walls of the church resulting in 125 additional seats. The Tabernacle was relocated into the sanctuary leaving room for chairs and kneelers for the ministers of the Mass to sit together.
Little Apostles Early Childhood Center, a preschool program for children 3-5 years of age, opened in September 1998 with Mrs. Linda Scungio serving as Head Teacher. Little Apostles is licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Education and is located in the Bishop Gelineau Parish Center. The program, staffed by two certified teachers and three teacher assistants, was an immediate success with enrollment nearly full the first year. In 1999, the Center expanded to include afternoon Pre-School program and an after school program for kindergarten children attending area schools.
With the space in the Bishop Gelineau Center stretched to its limits, Father Sheahan invited parishioners to an Open Parish Meeting in May 1999 to discuss the need for additional space. In early June, an “in pew” survey was conducted soliciting parishioner reaction to a proposed addition. With more than 75% in favor, Diocesan Officials were consulted and plans began for a Parish Community Life Center. For one full year, the parish accomplished what can only be described as phenomenal. Father Sheahan appointed an Executive Development Committee to oversee and advise on the major aspects of this project. The first task was to retain a Fund Raising Consultant to conduct the Capital Drive, which took place in two phases, October – November 1999, and January – March 2000. The parish conducted a third and more informal phase in February of 2001. The result of all three phases was unprecedented in the Diocese of Providence with a total raised of over $2,100,000.00 in gifts and pledges. The architectural firm of Lerner/Ladds and Bartels was selected to work with the Building and Design Committee to design the C.L.C.
As a result of several long and spirited meetings, a design was approved by the parish Site Development and Building Design Committee and by the Diocesan Building Commission. The C.L.C. would serve three primary needs, spiritual, educational, social/ recreational and administrative. Features would include a daily Mass Chapel and Children’s Liturgy Room, classrooms, Life Teen Room, Music Room, a regulation size Junior High School gym with stage area and a game room and administrative offices for our staff needs. An outside Blessed Mother Prayer Garden with statue and fountain would also be included. The projected cost of construction was $1,750,000.00.
Another sign of the parish’s growth was when two new staff positions were established. In July 2000 Mrs. Barbara George was appointed to fill the position of full-time Administrative Assistant, and Edith Montaquila was promoted from part-time accountant to Business Manager the next year. Two areas of parish administration that were immediately addressed were maximizing the use of the parish database and updating the parish web page www.holyapostles.com.
On June 16, 2000, Father Sheahan gathered with the parish trustees, representatives from the three committees involved in the project, the diocese, the architectural firm, the general contractor and a large number of parishioners for the formal “ground breaking” ceremonies. The history of Holy Apostles Church was once again entering a new and exciting chapter. The general contractor, Berkshire Construction Services of East Greenwich, began work the following
week. Although the original projected date of completion was February 2001, the building was not ready for occupancy until June 2001. One reason for the delay was the unexpected amount of ledge that had to be blasted and removed from the site before the foundation walls could be poured. This delay prevented the building from being enclosed before the onset of the winter of 2001, which was a fairly severe one. But on June 30, 2001 the delay was a mere memory as the parish welcomed The Most Reverend Robert E. Mulvee, Bishop of Providence, and several visiting clergy for a Mass of Thanksgiving followed by the Dedication and Blessing of the Community Life Center. A gala “tent” reception followed the ceremony to the delight of all the guests who were also invited to tour the building. The one part of the building not finished for the dedication was the gym floor. The “rubberized” floor was installed during the summer.
In 2000, the parish initiated a program to welcome new families who wish to join Holy Apostles. On designated Sundays during the year, a “Welcoming” for new families takes place following the last Mass. Members of the staff are present. Father Sheahan begins by offering a brief explanation of the church’s architecture and interior design. Staff members then escort the new families on a “tour” of the facilities ending in the Parish Center where all watch a short video on the various ministries and programs the parish offers to its members. “Welcome packets” including registration forms are then distributed. The staff is available to answer questions and to personally welcome the new families to the parish.
In September of 2001 Mrs. Catherine Duarte was hired to coordinate Grades 6-8 in the Religious Education Program. At the start of the new school year, the transition to using the conference rooms in the CLC was a smooth one. Teachers and students alike were both delighted and excited to be the first to use the new building, and together they began another year of growing in the knowledge and love of God.
In June 2002, the full staff met for a day of setting goals and objectives in each of the main areas of parish life for the next 3-5 years. The areas considered included: Worship and Spirituality, Education, Parish Outreach, Youth Ministry, and Parish Administration. As a result of spirited discussion and exchange, the following goals were set: To move forward in establishing the position of Youth Minister; to provide Little Apostles Preschool with its own space; to seek ways to provide families with more support so that the home will be more of an extension of the faith celebrated in church; to design and establish a specific approach to invite those who have left the practice of the faith to return home; and to work on ways to make stewardship the guiding principle for the way parishioners live out their commitment to Jesus Christ.
Two specific results of the staff’s deliberations were converting the old office space in the Parish Center into the exclusive use of Little Apostles. The new space was completed for the start of the 2002-2003 school year to the delight of the staff, parents, and of course the children. The second result was the appointment of Miss Jennifer Scappaticci in December 2002 as part-time Youth Minister effective June 2003.
Also in 2002, the parish’s music ministry welcomed Tony Grelle, Bridget Guerriero and Arthur Urbano to provide the music for the Saturday afternoon Vigil Mass. Tony and Arthur play the guitars and sing while Bridget accompanies with the flute.
In 2002, Holy Apostles began a close partnership with St. Charles Parish in Providence’s West End. Parishioners from Holy Apostles – adults and teens – assist in serving the meal at their Thursday evening “Soup Kitchen”. The parish also provides the food for special dinners throughout the year as well as providing over 400 Christmas presents for St. Charles’ families through our Annual Advent Sharing Tree Program. In the spring our high school teens serve as “buddies” for some 40-50 youngsters from St. Charles who come here to Holy Apostles for a day of fun filled activities.
In the fall of 2003, Father Sheahan invited three members of the St. Paul’s Parish (Cranston) Festival Committee to meet with parishioners from Holy Apostles interested in “revitalizing” our annual “Family Day” celebration. The team from St. Paul ignited a fire storm of interest among those present. Father Sheahan selected from those present some 12 parishioners to serve on a “Steering Committee” to plan and coordinate an expanded version of “Family Day”. After much discussion, it was decided to “go for it” as it were and plan for a two day Fall Festival the weekend of October 1 & 2, 2004 with a wide selection of food items, ongoing entertainment, amusement rides and games, a 5k road race etc. The committee began meeting almost weekly beginning in January 2004. The steering committee members were assigned specific responsibilities that included volunteer coordination, marketing & advertising, city licensing, finances, food, entertainment and logistics that included rental of tents, tables/chairs, building of a stage, ticket booth, electrical and gas service etc.
As the weeks and months passed, excitement and enthusiasm grew. The week of the festival it was “lights, camera, action”. As the “crowds” entered the grounds on Friday, October 1st, the words “unbelievable”, “fantastic”, “outstanding” were heard over and over again as parishioners and friends of Holy Apostles saw the church grounds transformed into a “festival” of lights, joyful sounds of music and song and the inviting aromas from the food court. It was estimated that some three – four thousand attended the festival during the two days with well over 100 parishioners serving as volunteers in any number of capacities. When the Fall Festival came to a close on Saturday evening there was justifiable pride on the part of all who had a hand in making the festival the huge success that it was.
The fall of 2003 also marked an important event – the arrival of city water to the corner of Pippin Orchard Road and Scituate Avenue. With the assistance of Providence Water, the parish was able to extend the water main along Scituate Avenue allowing us to tie into city water. Due to low water pressure, the parish was required to install a pump at the point of entry into the building. The original well continues to supply water for lawn irrigation.
In January 2004, Michael Santilli was appointed part time Youth Minister and Coordinator of the Life Teen Program. Teen Mass remains at the center of the parishes’ outreach to its teen members and as these numbers increase so too does the importance of our youth ministry program. With the assistance of a number of interested parents a Junior Youth Group was formed to serve those in grades 6-8.
2004 also marked the 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of our church. On Sunday, July 25th – ten years to the day, Father Sheahan celebrated a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving. The Most Reverend Louis E. Gelineau, D.D. Bishop Emeritus of Providence presided at the ceremony and the Reverend William J. McCaffrey, Vicar of Planning and Finance was the homilist. Bishop Gelineau was the principle celebrant at the Mass of Dedication in 1994. A spirit filled reception was held in the Bishop Gelineau Center following the Mass.
As the parish entered its second decade, Holy Apostles remained one of the fastest growing parishes in the Diocese with close to 1600 registered families and one with the highest percent of young members. The average age of the ~5200 members was 29 with a median age of 32. The percent of members in the age group of 56 and older, although slightly higher than in 1999, remained a low 7.5%.
In 2004, the parish began to offer an adult enrichment series with talks during the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent on various faith based issues. The parish’s website, www.holyapostles.com, has become an important means by which the parish communicates to its members. The web site is updated on a weekly and sometimes on a daily basis providing a schedule of events, suggestions for growing in the faith within the context of family life, the Liturgical Ministry schedule as well as a copy of the weekly parish bulletin.
In the summer of 2005, the parish’s mascot and Father Sheahan’s 12 year old “friend” Pippin had to be put to sleep as a result of a debilitating disease. Everyone questioned if there would be another mascot. The answer came in December when Father brought home an 8 week old beagle whom he named Mico. Mico’s friendly and playful temperament immediately endeared him to the children of the parish. He is a regular feature on the parish’s web site.
In 2005, the parish, at the request of the diocese, introduced the option of families being able to make their budget contributions through the technology of “direct deposits” from one’s checking account. The program “Faith Direct” had a favorable response with over 100 families participating the first year.
Little Apostles expanded its program by offering a second semester “young three” class beginning in January 2005. In the summer of 2005 the playground for Little Apostles Preschool was completely refurbished. Outdated equipment was replaced with modern brightly colored pieces. A new ground surface was installed as was a new fence and entry gate.
In September of 2005 Dana McCormick was hired to fill the position of Administrative Assistant to fill the vacancy left when Barbara George accepted a position closer to her home in South Kingstown.
2005 also saw a continuation of new families joining Holy Apostles and as a result more children enrolled in our Religious Education Program. The 2005-2006 school year had some 1400 children enrolled in Grade K – Confirmation. At the end of 2005, the parish had 1950 registered families with a total membership of 6359 “souls”. This represents an increase of some 1300 members since 2001. The two largest age groups remain pretty much the same with 36.3% of all members ages 18 and under and 36.5% between the ages of 36 and 55.
In November 2005 Father Sheahan announced the establishment of the Holy Apostles Memorial Society. The Society is an opportunity to honor a loved one at the time of death while, at the same time, putting money in a reserved fund for the care of our beautiful buildings and grounds. To qualify for membership the funeral notice must read: “Please omit flowers. Contributions to the Holy Apostles Memorial Fund will be greatly appreciated”. (No other charity may be named) Publication of this notice is all that is required. The parish will provide donation cards and envelopes.
The name of the deceased and the date of his/her death will be inscribed on “The Wall of Remembrance”. Masses will be celebrated for members six times during the year: Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, The Feast of the Assumption, The Feast of All Saints and Christmas.
Planning for our second Fall Festival began in January 2005 with the addition of a few more members to the Steering Committee. The festival was held from September 31 – October 2 and was even more successful than the previous year despite a rather “chilly” Friday evening. The food court was expanded as was the coffee café. So as to provide no excuses to attend, the “big screen 50 inch TV” was rolled out to the wine/beer garden for the Red Sox Yankee play off game on Friday evening and for the Patriots game on Sunday afternoon—strange to see a television in the middle of the back parking lot! Plans for 2006 were already underway.
In the spring of 2006, the parish hired John Lanni to fill the position of Coordinator of Religious Education for Grades 6-8, a position vacated by Cathy Duarte who retired after 5 years of service. John began his responsibilities in September.
In November 2006 as a result of a number of parishioners having asked if other deceased relatives and/or friends might be included in the Memorial Society, even though the death occurred some time ago and the funeral might not even have taken place at Holy Apostles, Father Sheahan decided to expand the Society to include these individuals. The first names were inscribed on the Memorial Wall in June 2007 under two different headings: I am the Resurrection and the Life, for those whose family honored them at the time of death and May They Rest In Peace for those whose funerals pre-dated the establishment of the Society.
On December 10, 2006 the parish welcomed Bishop Thomas T. Tobin, the Diocese’s new bishop, for his first Pastoral Visit to Holy Apostles. Bishop Tobin was the celebrant and homilist at the 11:15AM Mass. The bishop greeted parishioners following the Mass.
In December 2006, Christine Dooley took over as Administrative Assistant after having served in the same position in two other parishes in the Diocese.
A vital part of the Community Life Center has been the gym. Men’s basketball and women’s exercise classes are held there weekly. The expansion of the basketball league allows for both boy’s and girl’s teams as well as an instructional program. In 2007, the boy’s high school team won the State championship in their division. In the spring of 2007, the floor was resurfaced and relined to comply with regulation size. Our own logo was designed for center court.
In January 2007 Father Sheahan announced the formation of the Holy Apostles Pastoral Council. The council’s scope and task is as follows:
“The Holy Apostles Pastoral council with the Parish Mission Statement as its primary reference will apply themselves to visioning and planning in each area of Parish Life. The council is consultative and is meant to assist the Pastor in his priestly and pastoral ministry on behalf of all parishioners and the wider community.”
The membership consists of 6 elected members representing different age categories and 5 members appointed by the Pastor. The term of office is three years with meetings held quarterly. Ex Officio members include the Pastor, Assistant Administrator and one of the Parish Trustees. Each parishioner confirmed and older is eligible to both submit nominations and vote. The first elections were held in March and the first meeting of the newly formed Pastoral Council was held on Saturday, May 12, 2007.
In June 2008 ten of our high school teens went on a mission trip to Blessed Assurance Orphanage in Kingston Jamaica. The trip was arranged through the internationally recognized organization called Mustard Seed. The teens were accompanied by the parish Director of Youth Ministry Michael Santilli and three adult chaperones. Planning for the trip started in the fall of 2007. All confirmed teens were invited to apply for a position on the team. Essays were submitted as well as other qualifications were reviewed before a final determination was made. The teens prepared themselves spiritually through a series of meetings that included guest speakers. They also raised over $20,000.00 through fund raising activities and from donations from parishioners and friends. The trip became known as Teens on a Mission.
During the planning process the suggestion was made by Jim Karpeichik, a parishioner and professional videographer, that a documentary be made of the trip. After discussions with Mustard Seed it was decided that Jim would accompany the teens to Jamaica. The documentary was completed in the summer. A copy of the DVD was given to Bishop Tobin who wrote to Father Sheahan and said: “The DVD itself was excellent – very professional – and the experience the young people from Holy Apostles had working with Mustard Seed was extremely interesting, even moving to watch. The insights were obviously sincere and well articulated. The documentary was also shown at a student assembly at Cranston West High School and on NBC Channel Ten on Christmas Day 2008. A second Teens on a Mission trip is planned for 2009 when ten teens will travel with Mustard Seed to the Dominican Republic.
To enhance video presentations in the Parish Center, 2008 saw the addition of a 100” wide screen – a drop down from the ceiling, surround sound audio system, power point/lap top hook up as well as an iPod hook up.
One of the highlights of 2008 was the “paying off of the church mortgage” – seven years early! Although this milestone was not marked with a public celebration Father Sheahan’s announcement at weekend Mass drew a proud response from the parishioners.
During the summer of 2008, the rectory was renovated to accommodate a second priest. The addition was made over the garage and consists of a sitting room, bedroom and bath. The work was done by Mill City Construction of Lincoln, the contractor who built the rectory in 1994.
2009 began on a high note, with the good news that Father Sheahan had been named by Pope Benedict XVI “Chaplain to His Holiness” with the title of Reverend Monsignor. The news was greeted with great joy by the parishioners. Monsignor was formally installed at Evening Prayer on March 25 at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. On Sunday, March 29, Monsignor was the main celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Apostles in recognition of being named a Monsignor and in celebration of his Fortieth Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood. A reception followed in the Gymnasium.
In the spring of 2009, Monsignor asked Dr. Joseph Pezza to head a committee to develop plans to establish a “Charitable Grants Program”. Dr. Pezza and his committee spent the next few months developing guidelines and criteria for awarding the funds. During the summer the committee received and reviewed over 15 grant requests submitted by various non-profit charitable programs/agencies. In the fall of 2009 a total of $12,000.00 was awarded to 5 agencies throughout the state of Rhode Island. This program is believed to be the first of its kind in all the parishes in the diocese.
Also in the spring of 2009, the parish conducted a “Rise Energy Audit”, a program sponsored by National Grid to evaluate the parish’s energy use. It was determined that by changing a combination of both interior and exterior lighting fixtures and lamps in the church, parish center and gym a significant savings in energy use and costs would be realized. Over 70% of the cost for these changes was paid for by National Grid.
In June 2009, Bishop Tobin assigned the Reverend Robert H. Forcier as the first Associate Pastor of Holy Apostles. Father Forcier‘s previous parish was SS John and Paul in Coventry where he served as Associate Pastor for three years. Prior to that, he was the Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s Parish here in Cranston. Father did his graduate theological studies in Rome and was ordained on June 28, 2003. He was warmly received by the parishioners and Monsignor welcomed Father’s assistance. As an aside, MICO gave his approval as well.
Also in June, a second Teens on a Mission took place with ten teens and three adult chaperones traveling this time to the Dominican Republic. The mission trip was once again under the direction of Mustard Seed. The primary missionary activity took place at the Hogar Immanuel Orphanage where the children are severely handicapped. The manner in which the teens processed their experience was most impressive.
After skipping a year, September saw the return of the Fall Festival. An added feature this time around was an Autumn Harvest Brunch served later on Sunday morning. The brunch was under the direction of well known chef Casey Riley and was enjoyed by over 150 people. This year’s festival also included expanded hours on Thursday evening and into Sunday evening.
In September 2009 a chapter of the Men of St. Joseph was established at Holy Apostles under the direction of Father Forcier. The Holy Apostles Men of St. Joseph began meeting once a month on Saturday mornings at 8:00AM, beginning with Mass in the chapel followed by fellowship and discussion until 9:30AM. Men of all ages were invited to attend. The Men of St. Joseph are committed to Jesus Christ and are dedicated to uniting men through vital relationships encouraging their transformations as individuals, brothers, fathers, and parishioners, by living according to God’s word.
2010 saw the continuation of what began in earnest in 2006: the parish utilizing modern means of communicating with parishioners via the internet. The parish web site has become more and more interactive with parishioners. The use of email to notify parishioners of meetings, ministry schedules etc. has all but replaced printed material. The parish’s Youth Ministry has its own “face book” page to keep the teens informed of Teen Masses, Life Nights and recreational activities.
In June 2010, the third “Teens on a Mission” trip took place under the leadership of Mike Santilli. The 10 teens and their 4 adult leaders returned to the Mustard Seed Community of Blessed Assurance Orphanage in Jamaica.
Also in June 2010, Mrs. Linda Scungio retired as the first Head Teacher of Little Apostles Early Childhood Center after serving in that position for ten years. Mrs. Ann Anesta was appointed by Monsignor to succeed Linda as Head Teacher. Due to changes in state regulations governing Pre Schools, Little Apostles applied for and was granted a license to operate by the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families.
In July, the parish welcomed the Reverend Joseph Pescatello as a summer resident. Father Joe was in transition from his position as Pastor of Our Lady of Good Help in Nasonville and Chaplain at Bryant University to Sabbatical Studies in Rome in the fall. Father returned to the parish for the months of December and January.
In September 2010, Mrs. Edith Montaquila retired as the first Business Manager for Holy Apostles after serving in that position for 9 years. Mrs. Catherine Vincent was appointed by Monsignor to the position of Business Manager. Cathy came to Holy Apostles after having served as Business Manager in two different parishes.
In December, Bishop Tobin reappointed Monsignor to a second five year term as a member of the Diocesan Finance Council.
December 2010 marked the beginning of the parish’s participation in the year long Diocesan Program for Evangelization. The goal of the program was to reach out to those who have been away from the church and invite them to return. Two large signs were erected on the corner of Pippin Orchard Road and Scituate Avenue that read “Year of Evangelization 2010 – 2011 Holy Apostles Parish Welcomes You Home.”
January 2011 marked the start of a year long celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Founding of Holy Apostles Parish. Monsignor set the theme for the anniversary as “Celebrating 20 Years of Serving God’s People”. Special banners were hung over the main entrances to the church and parish center as well as special signs on the Scituate Avenue side of the church property. An Anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving is schedule for mid June with the Most Reverend Louis E. Gelineau D.D. Bishop Emeritus of the diocese. Bishop Gelineau was the founding bishop of the parish. A special 20th Anniversary Festival is also scheduled to take place in June.
In February 2011 after consultation with the parish trustees, Monsignor announced that due to low enrollment projections for the 2011-2012 school year Little Apostles Early Childhood Center would close at the end of the school year.
In March 2011 as a result of positive response to a survey sent to prospective Confirmation candidates, the parish announced a more convenient and in depth program to be held for one week in the summer. The summer program will be held for the first time, August 8-15. It was a “sell out” with 80 students participating.
In celebration of the Twenieth Anniversary of the founding of our parish, we had two events held: the first was a Parish Festival from June 3rd to June 5th and then on June 19th a Mass of Thanksgiving. The principal celebrant was Bishop Gelineau with Monsignor concelebrating the Mass. The three choirs joined together for beautiful music as well as representatives from each of the following Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage participating in the procession.
In March 2011 as a result of positive response to a survey sent to prospective Confirmation candidates, the parish announced a more convenient and in depth program to be held for one week in the summer. The summer program will be held for the first time, August 8-15. It was a “sell out” with 80 students participating.
At the end of June, the 4th “Teens on a Mission” received a special missionary blessing as they prepared to serve the children of Blessed Assurance Orphanage in Jamaica.
During the fall of 2012, the parish undertook a number of major building projects. Highlights included the painting of the exterior of both the church and CommunityLifeCenter. The interior of the church was painted and the pews were refurbished. The interior lighting was changed to LED lighting which resulted in a sizable rebate from National Grid. The CLC meeting rooms and hallways were painted and new carpeting was installed.
On February 3, 2013, one of our parishioners, Gregory Albanese was ordained to the Permanent Deaconate in the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul. Following the ordination Mass, Deacon Albanese received his first parish assignment from Bishop Tobin. We were delighted to learn that he had been assigned as Deacon Assistant here at Holy Apostles, a position he holds to this day.
For the June Meeting of the Pastoral Council the decision was made to change the composition of members from elected and appointed to all appointed members. At the end of June, Mr. Jeffrey Cascione was appointed to serve as a Parish Trustee taking the place of Mr. Stephen Gibbons who completed his five year term. Also at the end of June 2013 the 6th “Teens on a Mission” left for their week of service in Jamaica.
During the summer of 2013 parish leadership undertook an intensive study of our ministry to the Junior and High School Youth. The result was some significant changes in the way we serve this segment of the parish. The first major change was moving the Teen Mass from a bi- monthly Sunday night Mass to every other Sunday at the 11:15 Mass.
This change resulted in the wider community experiencing the beautiful music of our Teen Choir and seeing high school teens involved in all facets of the Liturgy. Outside of Mass the outreach to the teens was a theme based program consisting of various activities. This year’s theme was serving the poor and homeless in our midst. To assist the teens to experience and understand this important topic an overnight homeless sleep out was held on the church grounds, a former homeless person addressed the teens and homeless back packs were collected. The Teens involved the entire parish with this project.
In the fall of 2013, the parish held its 18th Dinner Dance at the Alpine Country Club an event that is now held on alternating years with the Parish Fall Festival which is scheduled for the fall of 2014.
In February 2014, Monsignor celebrated his 70th Birthday. This milestone made him eligible to request permission to retire from the active ministry. Shortly thereafter, Bishop Tobin informed Monsignor that he had accepted his request and as a result named him Pastor Emeritus effective July 1, 2014.
In April 2014, Bishop Tobin named Monsignor Paul Theroux to succeed Monsignor Sheahan as Pastor of Holy Apostles effective July 1, 2014. During the following months both Monsignors worked together to achieve a smooth transition of parish leadership.
Also in the spring, the parish learned that our long time organist Henri St. Louis was leaving at the end of June to take a similar position at Our Lady of Mercy Parish. The music leadership team began the process of seeking a replacement. At the end of May, Monsignor announced that Dr. Diane Monti-Markowski had been appointed a Parish Trustee replacing Claudia Mojkowski who completed her five year term. On Sunday, June 22nd Monsignor blessed the 7th “Teens on a Mission” participants and their adult leaders.
On Thursday, June 26 the parish held an informal reception for Monsignor in recognition of his 22+ years of service as pastor of Holy Apostles and on Sunday, June 29 he celebrated his final Mass as pastor.