Rev. Joseph E. Grady
The Silver Jubilee of Epiphany of Our Lord parish was celebrated on Sunday, January 17, 1982. The year coincided with Father Grady’s retirement as pastor. Reflecting on these milestones, Father Grady wrote, “When looking back on 25 years of time, you never got the chance to be able to feel the times as they were then. You never got the time to really get to know the people or even share the events with them that make them so much a part of today. But 25 years later, you can see the results of people working harmoniously together. Here at Epiphany of Our Lord Church, you can see the results of those struggles of time and effort that say much about the past 25 years.”
A grateful parish community expressed its deep appreciation for Father Grady’s dedication, service, and concern when, at the end of the celebration festivities, they sang to the tune of Thanks for the Memories.
In 1983, a year into his retirement and in his 50th year as a priest, Father Joseph Grady died. He had lived long enough to see his dream of building the church fulfilled. He looked after his beloved parish even in death — a bequest in his will paid off the $230,000 left on the church mortgage. For nearly 25 years, Father Grady led his flock with tenacity and conviction. What has been accomplished stands as a memorial not only to him but also to his parishioners, all working together with mutual love, hope, and dedication.
The Parish Bells
The first recorded mentioning of Bells is found in the Book of Exodus. The Old Testament records that Aaron, the High Priest, was given instructions on how he should dress in the performance of his ministry upon entering the Tabernacle, “… Bells of pure gold were also made and put between the pomegranates all around the hem of the robe which was to be worn in performing the ministry — all this, just as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Ch. 39:24).
“Tintinnabula” was the Latin word for bells; often it could be more correctly rendered as the word for “gong” or “cymbal.” Its purpose was a signal to announce the time for some event before the inventions of watches and clocks.
The first Christian writer, Gregory of Tours (c. 585), speaks of bells (signa) when he writes “they were run before church services that they might rouse the monks from their beds.” St. Columban (615) is said to have assembled the community by ringing the bell when one of his monks was dying.
In the early Middle Ages the word “compana” meant a church bell. Pope Stephen II (752-757) erected a belfry with three bells at St. Peter’s in Rome. By the 8th century, the bells began to be regarded as an essential part of the equipment of every church so that church towers were built for the express purpose of hanging bells in them. St. Francis Xavier used a hand bell in Goa, India, to gather the children to teach them their catechism in 1542, and for nearly twelve hundred years bells have been used to announce important religious and national events.
The ringing of the bells is “the calling” of the Faithful to prayer… the announcing of death… the procession of a funeral… the consecration of the Holy Eucharist at Mass, and the celebration of a Marriage.
Today our church tolls the bells fifteen minutes before the Masses so that the Faithful will be on time for the celebration of the Liturgy. At wedding the bells are pealed in jubilation on the occasion of the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony. During Holy Week the bells are silent from the Gloria of the Mass on Holy Thursday until the Gloria on Holy Saturday, reminding us that God’s Son died on Good Friday on Calvary Heights.
As the Liberty Bell is America’s symbol for the Voice of Freedom; the Bells ringing in our churches are a symbol for the Voice of God. The largest bell consecrated with the rite of the Catholic Church is that of Cologne Cathedral, which was made out of captured French cannons, and weighs nearly twenty-seven tons.
Epiphany Stained Glass Window
Mary sits as if enthroned in the heavens with an aura of multicolored light. Her Divine Son is seated upon her lap. Over her head a star sheds golden rays of heavenly glory. Angels have announced to the Shepherds in Bethlehem the Good News, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will.” The Magi, the Wise Men from the East, were led by a star to kneel before this new born King. This is the Epiphany of Our Lord. On the upper left a stable is seen with an ox, donkey, and a manger. St. Luke tells us: “She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the Inn” (Luke 2:7).
On the upper right stands St. Joseph, the foster father of the child. He holds a staff in his right hand as a Shepherd would lead his flock; and at his feet a sheep looks attentively at Mary’s child. “Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). On the left Melchior is kneeling with hands folded. He has brought a gift of gold for the new born Heavenly King. On the bottom left Balthazar, the dark skinned King, kneels with a gift of incense to worship this Divine Child. On the bottom right King Gaspar has placed his gift of myrrh in preparation for his death.
“Behold there came Magi from the East to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newly born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him'” (Matthew 2:3).