Bishop Bambera celebrates the 150th Anniversary Mass for Saint Basil Church in Dushore on Sept. 17, 2022. (Photo courtesy/The Sullivan Review)

DUSHORE – Hundreds of people came together in prayer and thanksgiving on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Mass said inside Saint Basil Church.

While the public celebration was delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the faith and spirit of those in attendance was undeniable.

“Most of the community is here,” parishioner Hayes Clark said. “We have quite a Catholic community here in the Endless Mountains. It is just a good time for all.”

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant of the Mass.

During his homily, he reminded everyone that a parish is more than just a building, it is the People of God.

“Through our faith in the risen Jesus, we are bound to our mothers and fathers, to grandparents and great-grandparents, and to every soul that has ever worshipped in this wonderful church for its 150 years,” Bishop Bambera said. “We are bound together because of the Eucharist that we celebrate on this altar and because of the words of faith that we proclaim in its presence: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

The special Mass brought people to tears.

From baptisms to weddings and funerals, this church has meant so much to people.

“I started to cry in Mass because I was born and raised in this church, baptized in this church and now I’m raising my kids in this church. My daughter served in the choir for the first time today,” parishioner Megan Bohensky said.

Following the Mass, a special dinner was held in Saint Basil’s hall.

Two proclamations, one from the Dushore mayor and the other from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, were presented.

The history of Saint Basil Church is significant.

The beginning of Catholic life within the present boundaries of the Diocese of Scranton in the early 1800s traces some of its easiest roots back to the Dushore-area.

“It’s 150 years since the church was built. My granduncle, Father Xavier A. Kaier came from Germany. He traveled and said mass and then came here and was the first rector, I think of this parish. He’s buried outside the church,” parishioner Suzanne Kaier explained.

Numerous renovations have helped Saint Basil Church remain the ‘beacon of faith’ that it is today.

It’s most recent challenge came in 2019 when the church was damaged in an EF-1 tornado with winds of up to 110 miles an hour.

“We had a tornado that tore part of the roof off. A tree fell on the rectory and knocked Father Thom out of bed but when Father said ‘we need to raise money,’ everybody came through,” parishioner Bob Guglielmi said.

After more than a century and a-half of doing Christ’s work, celebrating life, teaching people about Jesus and the faith, and helping those in need, the people in Dushore show no signs of slowing down.

“We as a Catholic community really strive to help out wherever we can in the community and the community in general is just one wonderful community to live in,” parishioner Donn Tourscher said.