Friday, April 10, 2009

Tales From St. Joseph's

With Easter approaching a very timely story from Joseph Barone:
Recently, my father-in-law passed away. During what the Roman Catholic Church now calls the Mass of the Resurrection, or Funeral Mass, I thought about Rev. Peter Vesta.
Fr. Vesta was the pastor of St. Joseph in the late 1960's and I believe into 1970 or 1971. I remember him usually wearing cassock outside of the Church walking up and down Monroe St. saying his rosary or daily prayers.
By 1970 or 1971, Fr. Peter became very ill and left us as Pastor. I don't know what it was. I can only surmise it was cancer.
By 1972, I was an Altar Boy (now they call them Altar Servers, since both boys and girls now serve on the altar). Since we were also students at St. Joseph, we would be called out of class to serve Funeral Masses, which usually began by 9:15am and ended by 10:15am. Then, back up to class.
By that time (maybe it was 1973), Fr. Peter was living at St. Joseph (in residence, as they called it) and wheelchair bound.
When Fr. Peter died, I (as well as a couple of other boys) were asked to be Altar Boys for the Mass.
The Church was packed. There were a large number of priests in attendance, and we (the Altar Boys) usually sat on the left hand side (if you were facing the altar) on a set of small wooden stools, with red leather seats.
The morning of the funeral Mass, it was dark and raining. As the Mass progressed, the weather got worse and worse. It was pouring, there was lightening and thunder. And during what we would call the most sacred parts of the Mass, the weather got only worse. I remember looking up at the stained glass windows, and there was no light coming into the Church, since it was so dark and rainy.
At the end of the Mass, all of us headed back up to class.
I remember looking out the window, about 11:30am or so, and it had stopped raining and the sun was shining.
I thought about Fr. Peter, since basically the same thing happened during my father-in-law's funeral.


Anonymous said...

I remember that day as well in January not long after his birthday.

Wish there wasn't a 10 year waiting list so that I could "go home" again to Knickerbocker. I went to St. Joseph from Kindergarten and then onto Cathedral High. Lived at Knickerbocker 25 years. Old saying, "You never miss the water until the well runs dry."

Anonymous said...

P.S. Fr. Peter died from complications of a stroke the year before, which he had in Rhode Island. A heart attack ended his life while he was in his forties. I had travelled to England and met his brother and sister-in-law and of course relatives from Italy. Some forty years later, not a day goes by that I don't regret my qanswer was not a positive one to his question. Everyone else knew and understood except, young me. I know now what I lost in the most wonderful person I've ever known in my life.

Anonymous said...

My son was born on that day, Jan. 29,1975. It was raining thunder and lighting like I never saw in January. I left for the hospital at 12:30 and the sun was shining.tree

BigTonyC said...

He was alive and well on Sept 24, 1972. He performed my wedding ceremony. Died shortly after that and fr. James became pastor