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St. Gregory the Great
History of The Church of St. Gregory
Early in November, 1973, Bishop J. Carroll McCormick expressed his desire to found a parish somewhere in the Clarks Green – Waverly area. In late December of that same year he personally began a search for a suitable piece of property which would become the site of the new parish. By the beginning of January, 1974, he decided to attempt to purchase the Ward family homestead which was adjacent, along North Abington Road, to the property already owned by Our Lady of Peace School. Much to his surprise, the property was for sale and it was purchased by the Diocese of Scranton on January 10, 1974, for $65,000.00. The property measured 215 feet on North Abington Road and was 640 feet deep. The purchase included a house next to Our Lady of Peace Convent which eventually would become the temporary rectory. The new parish had a tentative home.
On January, 24, 1974, Bishop McCormick established the Parish of Saint Gregory the Great, Clarks Green, and appointed Monsignor Charles J. Zazzera as the founding pastor. Three hundred and forty-five families were taken from Our Lady of the Snows by the determination of geographical boundaries for the new parish. Worship space would be in the gymnasium of Our Lady of Peace School – a site already used as a mission by Our Lady of the Snows. The new pastor would reside at Saint Pius X Seminary in Dalton. Both of these situations made it imperative that a parish plant be built as soon as possible. Monsignor Zazzera set about this task with characteristic diligence and dispatch. In July 1975, ground was broken for the new church and parish center. The rectory and parish center were blessed on the bicentennial of our nation and the church was dedicated by Bishop McCormick on August 15, 1976. Between the date of its founding and the dedication of the church the new parish has grown by 125 families. This type of growth and expansion has characterized Saint Gregory’s throughout the first quarter of its mission. Currently there are 1, 400 registered families in our parish.
On September 8, 1977, Monsignor Zazzera accepted a new pastoral assignment at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Scranton. On that same day Monsignor John H. Louis received the pastoral assignment to Saint Gregory’s. He is currently Pastor Emeritus.
The patron of our parish is the bedrock of the Liturgy of the Roman Rite. Our parish, from its inception, strives to be a model of this liturgical tradition. The Sacrament of Baptism has been celebrated 2,247 times, welcoming both adults and children into the Pilgrim People of God. Two thousand six hundred ninety-five people have been confirmed. First Eucharist has been celebrated 2,924 times. Seven hundred and thirty-eight couples have entered the covenant of Marriage in our parish. Six hundred ninety-four people have been commended to the Lord in the Rite of Christian Burial. We constantly attempt to make the Eucharistic Liturgy more a part of our parishioners lives.
Saint Gregory’s was founded on the principle of the Pastoral Council being the main source of the parish planning and pastoral activity. This principle has been carried out for the last forty years. The Pastoral Council currently numbers eighteen members.
Catholic education has been a cornerstone of our parish and continues a tradition of excellent Catholic education. Saint Gregory’s Early Childhood Center was added to our educational program in 1980 and continues diversified education for young children, ages four and five. Between O.L.P. and the Sunday morning religious education program more than 750 children from kindergarten to eighth grade are under instruction.
Saint Gregory’s has been the recipient of many kind gifts and constant financial support by generous parishioners. The Pope John Paul II Fund, established at the time in 1978 when the Pope visited Philadelphia, has provided $360,000.00 in aid to the poor and needy of our area.
We have been blessed for the past forty years and we pray that the Lord’s abundant blessings will continue.
Building & Grounds: The Church building is a contemporary, capstone structure of cedar and brick. Natural landscaping of pines, seasonal flowers and grasses provide a beautiful invitation for worship. The building has four entrances all facing the altar. Inside the church the pews are arranged in a semi-circle.
Window Design: Highlighting the interior design is the generous use of both clear and stained glass. The clear glass, positioned above and behind the sanctuary area, showers the altar with natural light and attracts the immediate attention of the worshiper upon entry to the church. The brightness of the sanctuary area contrasts dramatically with the softer lighting effect produced by the stained glass windows situated throughout the remainder of the interior. Six aisle windows of faceted stained glass set in epoxy without subjects adorn each of the two walls leading to the sanctuary area. Their colors range from darker earth tints at the rear to progressively brighter blues and greens of nature toward the sanctuary-thus presenting a gradual change from darkness to light as one approaches the altar. At the rear of the church, surrounding the Baptismal Font, worshipers can view the wall of stained glass. This wall of glass separates the doors in the main entrance. The largest display of stained glass art, this window represents the abstract shape of Christ crucified. The figure is predominantly gray…a blend of heavenly white and earthen black showing us that Christ was both human and divine. A large circle forms His halo; a smaller orange spot represents His love flowing out to humanity. The pale flesh-colored shape is an abstract of the Holy Spirit Dove. The color red, symbolizing divine love, permeates the window. In brown colors are abstracted, the people of the world turning toward the Cross and reaching for Christ.
Living Garden: In designing the interior space of Saint Gregory’s Church, a view of God’s natural setting was accomplished by incorporating a “living garden.” Blending into the ruggedness of the natural wood appointments, the garden, situated behind the altar, enhances the essence of God’s nearness and lends to an environment in which the mind and soul are relaxed and at peace.
Statues: Centered in each of the rear walls of the church are alcoves with stained glass chapel windows. The left alcove’s stained glass subject is an abstract form of the Holy Mother and the Christ Child. The Mother is primarily in blue-the universal color denoting her purity and spirituality. The Child is gray, like the crucified Christ. A statue of the Blessed Mother carved from a single block of wood also stands in this space. The right alcove is a special place for our patron saint, Saint Gregory. This stained glass window embraces this area with an abstract of Saint Gregory with a lyre, the universal symbol for music. A carved wooden statue of Saint Gregory stands at the entrance of this alcove adjacent to the sacristy.
The Altar: The altar is a holy table. It serves as the focal point during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. A large wooden crucifix can be seen suspended from the ceiling above the altar. The seasonal colors of the liturgy are also reflected in the color of the antependium, the frontal piece of the altar cloth.
The Ambo: Sometimes called the Lectern, or the Pulpit, the Ambo is located in close proximity to the altar. It is from both the table of the word and the table of the altar that the faithful are fed during the Liturgy. The Ambo is to be used for the proclamation of the Word. The antependium is the decorative cloth that hangs in front of the ambo. Its color reflects the season of the church’s calendar. The Lectionary is the liturgical book that contains the readings and chants used during the Liturgy of the Word. It is usually carried in by the Deacon or the Lector of the day, high over his or her head for all in the community to see, indicating the honor shown to Christ. The other book used during the Liturgy is called the Roman Missal. This book contains all of the prayers spoken in our name by the presiding celebrant. It also contains the Eucharistic prayers and is placed on the altar in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Tabernacle: The tabernacle is a special place designated for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. In the Church of Saint Gregory, the tabernacle is in the sanctuary in clear view to all no matter where they are seated. Its design flows with the wood and colored glass of the church interior. Free standing, as if suspended between heaven and earth, the tabernacle always has a lighted candle constantly burning alongside of it. This is a sign of reverence reminding us that we are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Sacristy: Located to the right in the alcove of Saint Gregory is the sacristy. The sacristy is a room for preparation. It stores the chalices, patens, vessel of incense, unconsecrated bread and wine, and all of the elements necessary for the liturgy. It also serves as storage for the vestments, and vesting room for the priest as well as others who vest for the liturgy. There is also a sink to properly wash the vessels after the liturgy.
Baptismal Font: The Baptismal Font, is located at the entrance in front of the great wall on a tile surface to underscore the significance of Baptism. Through Baptism we enter into a special communication of Grace with God. It is through this Sacrament we are initiated into the Christian community and cleansed of original sin. As people approach the font to bless themselves upon entering the church they are reminded that the Faithful participate in the Life of Christ through Baptism. The flowing waters of the font are also used to bless the casket as we move from this earth to eternal life with the Lord.
Pascal Candle: Sometimes called the Easter Candle, the Pascal Candle is situated in front of the Baptismal Font. This candle is prepared annually at the Easter Vigil as a part of the service of light. In an effort to stress the significance of the Pascal Candle, the celebrant uses a number of symbolic rites. He carves a cross in the wax with a stylus, traces the Greek letter alpha above the cross, the letter omega below and the numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross. Finally he inserts five grains of incense in the candle in the form of a cross, indicating the place of the wounds of Christ. The Pascal Candle stands in the sanctuary during the Easter season and is lit during liturgical celebrations. The candle symbolizes the risen Christ who conquers sin and death. It is also lit during the celebration of Baptism and during the Rite of Christian Burial.
Shrine of Oils: To the immediate right when facing the Baptismal Font mounted on the wall is the Ambry. The Ambry houses the Sacramental Oils. These Holy Oils are used at Baptism, Confirmation, and for the Anointing of the Sick. The oils are produced from pure olive oil and blessed by the Bishop during the Chrism Mass of Holy Week at the Diocesan Cathedral in Scranton.
Stations of the Cross: The Stations of the Cross are located on the two rear walls. They are original carvings in the rustic wood that covers the back walls. Because of their dimensional nature these unique carvings appeal to the senses. Like early cave drawings they serve to communicate. They depict in an original, “hands on” way the Passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Reconciliation Room: The Church provides a means for us to respond to the Call to Repent. This means is provided through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconciliation restores us to the full love of God after sin has caused a break in our relationship with Him. Saint Gregory’s Reconciliation Room is located to the left in the alcove of the Blessed Mother. This private and comfortable room allows those wishing to be forgiven and looking for the healing grace of God, to face the priest openly or to kneel behind a screen while seeking forgiveness.