By Dan McWilliams
St. Augustine Parish in Signal Mountain marked its 75th birthday Nov. 3 as Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated an anniversary Mass, dedicated a new education/multipurpose wing at the church, and blessed the parish’s new outdoor Stations of the Cross.Concelebrating were current St. Augustine pastor Father Joseph Kuzhupil and three former pastors in Father Bob Hofstetter, Father Peter Iorio, and Father Paul Valleroy. Father David Carter served as master of ceremonies, and Deacon Gordon Kilburn assisted.
In attendance were Dominican Sisters, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Alexian Brothers, and a host of parishioners. The Alexians converted part of the old Signal Mountain Hotel into a chapel in the summer of 1938 and dedicated the chapel to St. Augustine, launching the parish that still flourishes today.
At Mass Father Kuzhupil recognized both Grey Wagner, 96, who was a junior at the University of Chattanooga when the parish was formed and is now St. Augustine’s most senior parishioner, and David Windle, a current parishioner who as an infant was present at the dedication ceremony 75 years ago.
During the blessing of the Stations, Bishop Stika recognized young parishioner John Carlson. John is an Eagle Scout, and the outdoor Stations were his Eagle project.
In a program in the parish hall after the dedications, Bishop Stika helped unveil an apostolic blessing given by Pope Francis to the parish. Father Kuzhupil then gave Bishop Stika two baseball caps, one from each World Series opponent this year: St. Louis and Boston. The bishop’s beloved Cardinals lost to the Red Sox in the Series. When presented with the Boston cap, Bishop Stika joked about getting a “new pastor” for the parish.
Also during the program, parish-council chair Mary Bach thanked former pastors Father Iorio and Father Patrick Brownell and Father Kuzhupil for their efforts in planning and developing the education-wing project. She also thanked architect Thomas Johnson and Raines Brothers, the contractor. Mrs. Bach also expressed gratitude to John Carlson, the columbarium committee for the execution of the Stations, and Stations architect Pat Neuhoff.
Former pastors Father Anietie Akata and Father Paul Hostettler sent their thanks to the parish, and Monsignor Al Humbrecht sent a video greeting.
The parish’s anniversary celebration began on Nov. 1 with an All Saints Day Mass, followed by a talk by Sister Mary Timothea Elliott, RSM, who discussed the topic “Called to Be Saints: The Universal Call to Holiness.” Sister Mary Timothea is director of the diocesan Office of Christian Formation.
The parish held an All Souls Day Mass Nov. 2, followed by a prayer service at the parish’s columbarium. Sister Mary Timothea then led a discussion on “Intentional Discipleship: The Work of the Parish.”
All current and former parishioners were invited to attend.