ROCK LAKE – With a celebration as big as a 185th anniversary – the joy simply could not be contained to just one weekend!

Parishioners of Saint Juliana Church came together on two consecutive weekends in August to mark the dedication of their beloved house of worship in northern Wayne County.

The first – and largest celebration – was held on Saturday, Aug. 19 as part of the church’s annual “Rock Lake Picnic.” The church picnic, originating as early as 1838, has been held annually to financially support the church’s construction and upkeep.

Festivities included a traditional turkey and ham dinner, along with other food, children’s games and art, live music throughout the day, a huge finder’s market, homemade bake sale and raffles.

Participating in the Aug. 19, 2023 anniversary Mass at Saint Juliana Church are, Rev. Joseph Mosley, Deacon Carl Albright, Rev. Arun Lakra, pastor, Rev. Patrick Albert and Rev. Seth Wasnock.

Reverend Arun Lakra, pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish, celebrated Mass at 5:30 p.m. in the church.

Concelebrating the liturgy were Rev. Patrick Albert, pastor of the parish from 2005-2015, as well as Rev. Seth Wasnock and Rev. Joseph Mosley, pastor and senior priest from Saint Rose of Lima Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carbondale.

In his homily, Father Arun quoted Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Father spoke of rejoicing with gladness for the beautiful day that was provided along with the blessing of past priests, friends, relatives and neighbors. He stressed that as individuals, families, a parish and community, “we are one.”

Reminding those in attendance of the unconditional love that God has for each of us, Father Arun said we are called to share the joy and blessings we receive.

His final question to parishioners – “Do I recognize the blessings of God in my life and am I grateful to Him?” – challenged those in the crowd to reflect on the many gifts they are given.

Parishioner Jim Biondo expressed gratitude for the presence of the priests and Deacon Carl Albright and provided a warm welcome to all attending the picnic Mass.

Biondo let those present know of how the picnic team and parishioners are mindful of, grateful for, and in awe of the sacrifices of those who came before them. He honored the pride and dedication of all the picnic volunteers and thanked the parishioners and friends of Saint Juliana Church who helped to make her “shine again.”

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, was present at Saint Juliana Church on Sunday, Aug. 27, to celebrate the church’s 185th anniversary.

He recalled visiting Saint Juliana’s for the Sacrament of Confirmation and commented that his father hunted in nearby Rileyville and had probably attended Mass at Saint Juliana’s as a young boy.

The bishop’s homily reflected on 185 years of faith being proclaimed and professed in this little corner of God’s kingdom, which was established 30 years before the Diocese of Scranton itself. He urged people to reflect less upon the building and more upon the celebration of the very presence of Jesus.

Bishop Bambera commented upon the fact that the Sacrament of the Eucharist has been celebrated in this area for nearly 200 years and asked parishioners to recall the people who once journeyed with them in faith and those who continue to walk the same journey.

The bishop invited parishioners to give thanks for the opportunity to share in Christ’s work by building up the Body of Christ, in living and proclaiming the Gospel message, reminding those in attendance, that as people of faith, they have cared for, consoled and celebrated with each other and have reason to be thankful.

“If we look carefully, we will see the result of Jesus in our hearts when we see people serving others by becoming the hands, hearts and voice of Christ,” Bishop Bambera said. “This church is a blessed opportunity for mercy and forgiveness. The power of Christ is in the church. This celebration reminds us that we gather for a mission. We gather to be fortified and to go forth to proclaim the Gospel and live in peace. The light of Christ has shown brightly in this community for 185 years. The power and presence of God is at the heart of who we are as Christians. We must have gratitude and hope for all that has been and all that will continue to be, in the grace of God present in our midst.”

After Mass, Bishop Bambera was warmly received by parishioners at a reception within the walls of the original horse and buggy barn, build in 1855. He graciously visited with all present and in departing, left them with smiles and fond memories.