History of The Mission of St. Rose of Lima at Sodus Point
The history of St. Rose goes back to the Civil War Days (1861-1865) when Mass was celebrated in Lummis Hall in Sodus Point.[i] In a sense, the predecessor of St. Rose Church of Sodus Point was St. Anne’s in the village of Lummisville. St. Anne’s congregation was incorporated on April 20, 1869, by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, Vicar General James M. Early, Reverend John P. Stewart, pastor of St. Anne’s Church, and William Lummis and J. Maxwell Lummis, lay trustees. Father Stewart, who was then pastor of St. John’s church in Clyde, founded this society, which was the first Catholic denomination to be organized in the Town of Port Bay, now known as the Town of Huron. St. Anne’s never acquired its own edifice for worship but used the hall at Lummisville for services. Even this ceased in 1874.[ii]
Beginning in 1876, Sodus Point was a mission station out of St. Michael’s in Lyons.[iii] On February 24, 1885, Rose Lummis and her sister Georgette deeded Lummis Hall to the Catholic Diocese of Rochester.[iv] Bishop McQuaid of Rochester blessed it as St. Rose Church in 1886. St. Rose continued under Lyons, though now as a mission since it had acquired its own building.[v]
Looking into the future for possible expansion of the church building or the addition of a rectory, the Lummis sisters bought land adjacent to the chapel and deeded it to the church on October 21, 1887. [vi] St. Rose Church of Sodus Point was incorporated under that name on December 5, 1887. The incorporating trustees were Right Reverend Bernard J. McQuaid, Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, Reverend James I. McManus, Vicar General of said Diocese, Reverend John J. Hickey, pastor of St. Rose Church, Sodus Point, and lay trustees Anthony Ryan and Thomas Doyle.[vii]
Few if any churches in the diocese of Rochester have had a more interesting origin. Here is the story as reprinted in the parish bulletin of the Church of the Epiphany, Sodus:
“St. Rose of Lima was the gift of Rose Lummis, 1844-1900, a convert and member of the prominent Lummis family of Philadelphia, a major land owner in the Sodus District. After becoming a Catholic, she became noted for her many benefactions to the Church in the U.S. and Canada. Rose Lummis gave to Bishop McQuaid the Town Hall at Sodus Bay for a chapel. It never became a parish but remained small except during the vacation period. By 1906, some enlargement was necessary. Over a period of two years this enlargement was done. The main part of the building retained its original lines, those of a town hall. In structure the building has not changed much since then.” [viii] When the remodeling was finished, Bishop Thomas F. Hickey of Rochester rededicated the chapel in the name of St. Rose of Lima on August 9, 1908.[ix]
From the start, the little church at Sodus Point had been named after the patron saint St. Rose, as its founder was Rose Lummis. This was especially appropriate, for not only had she given the property, it was apparently while she was attending Mass there in the early 1860’s that this charitable Episcopalian woman felt her first inclination to become Catholic. Her co-benefactor and half-sister Georgette also later joined the Church. So did the Reverend William Salt, the Episcopal pastor at Sodus. He had at first been upset when Rose entered the Catholic Church, but he then started the investigation that led to his own becoming a Catholic in 1867. He eventually became the highly respected vicar general of the diocese of Newark, New Jersey.[x]
St. Rose of Lima was designated a chapel of the Church of the Epiphany in Sodus, when that parish was established in 1922. During the Depression, when the Sodus parish itself was made a mission of St. Mary’s of the Lake, Ontario, St. Rose was also assigned as a chapel to St. Mary’s of the Lake.[xi]
Miss Agnes Foley, a summer resident of Sodus Point, donated a statue of St. Rose of Lima, patroness of our church in 1954. Reverend James F. O’Connell, pastor, blessed the statue.[xii]
In 1985, St. Rose of Lima reached its one hundredth birthday. Father John D. Dillon arranged for a religious observance in the form of a triduum of prayer, August 21-23. After the devotions on August 22, those in attendance were treated to refreshments. The feature of the party was a beautifully decorated cake portraying a picture of the historic little chapel.[xiii]
Several repairs have been made to St. Rose of Lima. In 1986, a new roof was installed.[xiv] To highlight the attractive exterior of St. Rose, the ceiling of the bell tower was painted, and lights controlled by a timer were installed in the year 1987.[xv] A ramp was built during the summer of 1988 to make the church more accessible to the handicapped. [xvi] During this same year, an illuminated sign and air conditioning were installed, and the old cement steps were replaced by new ones.[xvii] During the summer of 1989, storm windows were installed on all windows of St. Rose except the large west window. This improvement was necessary to protect the stained glass and to save the windowsills.[xviii] In May, 1992, a sink was installed in the sacristy. There was never any running water in the church itself in all the years that St. Rose has been used as a church. Up until now, the priest always had to go outside and then enter the basement to obtain water. [xix] These improvements were financed in part from the proceeds of rummage sales that were held in the basement of St. Rose during the summer. For several years, Minerva DeMarco, Cora Helfer, and their helpers organized rummage sales at St. Rose, and these sales were considered one of the best rummage sales in the area.[xx]
A Holy Hour was held at St. Rose of Lima August 23, 1992, in honor of our patron saint, St. Rose of Lima. Rose was born Isabel de Flores y del Oliva in Lima, Peru, sometime in 1586. At age 20 she entered the convent and became a Dominican sister, dedicating her life to prayer and the Eucharist. Her most heroic work was among the poor people of Peru. She is credited with being the first person to begin any kind of outreach to the poor in South America. She died at age 3l and was the first native born person in the Americas to be canonized a saint by the Holy Father.[xxi]
Through the generosity of Cora Helfer, new gold vessels were bought in her memory.[xxii] Also, a Schulmerich Novabell II Carillon System was installed in September, 1992, and dedicated in her memory during ceremonies held in November.[xxiii] Since the Church of the Epiphany received a new organ in memory of Esther Sprong, the former organ at the Church of the Epiphany was installed at St. Rose of Lima in 1992.
Since neither the Church of the Epiphany nor St. Rose of Lima was filled to capacity for the Saturday evening Mass, it was decided by a vote by the parishioners in 1992 to hold the Saturday evening Mass at the Church of the Epiphany. St. Rose would not have a Saturday evening Mass, but would continue to have the 8 a.m. Sunday morning Mass. This would be during the winter months from the first Sunday in Advent until Easter.[xxiv] This schedule continued until Reverend David J. Faraone arrived. In October, 1994, the parish staff decided money spent for snowplowing would be saved if the Saturday evening Mass would be held at Sodus Point at 5:30 p.m. and no Masses held at St. Rose of Lima on Sundays during the winter schedule. St. Rose’s 8:00 a.m. Sunday Mass was moved to the Church of the Epiphany on Sunday mornings.[xxv]
More repairs needed to be done in 1994. This time the floor of the sanctuary area needed to be replaced. It was a large reconstruction project undertaken completely by volunteers Bob Bacher, Kevin Forrest, Dick Haensch, Bill Lee, Peter Beganskas, Dennis Grandjean, and Ken Thebert.[xxvi]
On December 3, 1994, Father John Dillon returned to St. Rose of Lima to dedicate and bless a new stained glass window made for St. Rose. The new window incorporated stained glass panels, which Father Dillon brought back to the parish when he was pastor. The glass panels originally came from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Rochester and up to this time hung individually in squares at St. Rose. Now they are all incorporated into a beautiful stained glass window depicting the countryside around St. Rose.[xxvii] The new window was made possible through a donation from the estate of Michael and Helen Gerhard.
The summer of 1996 saw a lot of activity at Sodus Point. A big banner on the side of St. Rose of Lima announced a Blessing of the Boats ceremony. Bishop Matthew Clark came to help Father Faraone with his first Blessing of the Boats ceremony.[xxviii]
The Wednesday morning discussion group held another hot dog roast in July at St. Rose of Lima after Saturday evening Mass.[xxix] They donated the proceeds to the church.
In July, 1996, St. Rose of Lima received an organ. The organ came from St. Mary’s of the Lake, Ontario.[xxx]
Another generous donation was received in January, 1997. Gene and Mickey Steger and Marcia and Don Roder gave St. Rose of Lima the gift of beautiful candlestick holders.[xxxi]
Sherry Brandt has the gift of sewing and has made many articles for both churches. She made the colorful fish stoles for the Blessing of the Boats ceremony and made the green altar cloth for St. Rose of Lima.[xxxii]
The teens of the parish wanted a place of their own so in the fall of 1987, they cleaned up the basement of St. Rose of Lima for their own teen room. Now they can have their parties, show movies, and other entertainment in a place they fixed up[xxxiii].
During the summer of 1998, several fundraisers were held at St. Rose of Lima. Bernie Taft and Bob Hillis organized a baked food sale in July.[xxxiv] Three successful hot dog roasts were held in July and August and chaired by Elaine and Charlie Costello, Mickey and Joe Steger, and Pat and Al Miller.[xxxv]
Among other woodworking projects he’s done for the parish, Bill Lee made the beautiful bulletin holders for St. Rose of Lima.[xxxvi] Richard and Louise Lamb donated a framed photograph of our 1996 Blessing of the Boats, and it hangs in St. Rose.[xxxvii] We are indeed grateful to the many volunteers and generous parishioners that we have.
NOTES TO APPENDIX: THE CHURCH OF ST. ROSE, SODUS POINT
- Rochester Diocese Archives, WPA Records, c 1939, Form 195.
- Rochester Diocese Archives, WPA Records, Form 126.
- Rev. Robert F. McNamara letter to Mary Piekunka dated 03/06/1989.
- Wayne County Deeds, Book 147, page 57.
- Rev. Robert F. McNamara letter to Mary Piekunka, dated 10/25/1988.
- Wayne County Deeds, Book 152, page 569.
- Wayne County Miscellaneous Docket No. 3, page 569.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 09/13/1981.
- Catholic Journal, (Rochester, NY), 08/14/1908.
- Delia Gleeson, Madame Rose Lummis (London and New York, 1907): regarding Father Salt see: Joseph M. Flynn, The Catholic Church in New Jersey (Morristown, NJ, 1904), pages 610-613.
- Official Catholic Directory, 1934, 1936, under Rochester Diocese.
- Newspaper picture, 09/08/1954.
- The Record, (Sodus, NY), 08/15/1985, page 1.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 06/18/1986.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Council Minutes, 12/15/1987.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Council Minutes, 06/21/1988.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Council Minutes, 11/15/1988.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Council Minutes, 04/25/1989.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 05/31/1992.
- Sodus-Williamson Pennysaver Ad, 07/19/1988.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 07/05/1992.
- Organ/Carillon Dedication Program, 11/29/1992.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 08/23/1992.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 11/15/1992.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 10/30/1994.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 02/06/1994.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 11/27/1994.
- Catholic Courier, (Rochester, NY), 07/4/1996.
- Wayne County Star, (Lyons, NY), 07/24/1996.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 07/28/1996.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 01/19/1997.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 07/07/1996 & 07/13/1997.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 10/19/1997.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 08/02/1998.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 09/13/1998.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 08/02/1998.
- Church of the Epiphany Parish Bulletin, 08/30/1998.