In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were . . . Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, "Peace be with you," and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:19-22)
Church of the Resurrection's story involves individuals, families, religious sisters, and priests - all coming together to form a faith community. When the parish gathered for its first Eucharistic celebration on the morning of December 7, 1941, no one realized what lay ahead for them. However, like the disciples who gathered in fear and confusion following the death of Jesus, they would learn that the Resurrection provided peace, joy, and hope. The Holy Spirit empowered them and all who have followed to give witness to their faith in families, communities, the nation, and the world.
In 1941, the parish numbered 35 families. Today there are approximately 600 households participating in church activities at the main church in Muncy. In addition, approximately 300 women at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Muncy are parishioners, who attend services at the chapel there. The number of parish members and their involvement in church and community has changed over the years. Their awareness and understanding of the mission to which Jesus calls them continues to evolve.
At the beginning of the twentieth century few Catholics lived in the area. Those who attended Mass traveled distances - for example, by train to Annunciation Church in Williamsport. Through the efforts of several individuals, Bishop Hafey approved the purchase of a property that included an empty parcel and a house at 526 South Main Street, Muncy and assigned a pastor - Fr. Hubert McGranaghan. Given the date of the first mass (Pearl Harbor Day), it is evident that a variety of factors have nurtured and shaped the character of Resurrection Parish. These influences include the global church, the local Christian and other faith communities as well as national and local historical forces that have transformed the social composition and function of the area surrounding the church's location in Muncy.
A number of firsts quickly followed in 1942 with first baptism, first Holy Communion and marriage. Many other "firsts" would occur through the years as the religious, educational, spiritual, service, and social ministries of the parish evolved along with the physical structures that housed some of these functions.
Liturgical services are an essential part of the Resurrection community. The first church, a surplus army chapel, was dedicated in 1949. The commitment of celebrants, other liturgical ministers, and the faithful continues to contribute to the vitality of these core faith experiences. Many pastors and members of the congregation have enhanced the liturgical services. The Liturgical Committee has coordinated and developed liturgical services. The music ministry of the parish has a long history including the formation of a parish choir, the use of cantors beginning in the 1970s as song leaders, and the formation of the Resurrection Singers in the early 1970s. Lectors began reading the liturgy of the word in the 1970s. In the 1980s, Eucharistic ministers were established to provide assistance at various liturgies and to bring the Eucharist to homebound parishioners. Altar servers have likewise been active with both girls and boys participating. Several other activities during the liturgical year have extended the spiritual dimension of the season. The Seder Supper during Holy Week has grown through several decades as an enriching experience.
From 1948 to 1959 the parish also included a second facility (St. Hugh's) in Hughesville that served as a place for liturgy and for a kindergarten staffed by Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1958, the parish purchased an additional property on South Main Street in Muncy which served as a convent and kindergarten until the sisters' departure in 1966. That building continued as a facility for religious education. Many parishioners have actively worked with the various Directors of Religious Education over the years to provide religious education to the children and youth of the parish. The parish created the Resurrection Early Childhood Center in the original rectory as a ministry providing day care for families of the parish and local area in 1996. Teen and youth activities have taken a variety of forms over the years with the current Youth Ministry program providing religious and social formation for parish teens. Religious education of adults also has grown. The Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) - a year long inquiry and formation process for persons interested in joining the Resurrection faith community - began in the 1990s. For adult members, scriptural faith-sharing, book discussions, and a variety of presentations currently serve the continuing spiritual formation that is a lifelong commitment. Summer time religious education programming gives witness to the expanded sense of faith community. Resurrection has participated since the mid 1980s in the Muncy Ministerium's Vacation Bible School. The RENEW program, a multi-year faith-sharing program, has provided spiritual growth for adults along with community building in the mid 1980s and more recently from 2003-2004.
Service to others has taken many forms. Parishioners extend care and compassion to individuals and families in times of crisis such as serious illness. The parish has long supported families in their time of loss of a loved one through the efforts of the Women's Organization and more recently through the Bereavement Committee. Various programs assist local people in need. These efforts increase at Thanksgiving with food baskets and supermarket gift cards. At Christmas, the Sharing Tree benefits a number of organizations serving people with special needs while the Touch of Heart program serves children and senior citizens. Most recently the parish has sought to stimulate awareness of the global church community by supporting Mission Ecuador which targets children and the elderly living in poverty in that country. Individuals in the parish have participated in service to people in need in other parts of the United States and in Kenya.
Two parish committees center their efforts on charity and justice. The Social Concerns Committee organizes a variety of programs for parish education and inspiration regarding social justice. A monthly Social Concerns Collection raises money for organizations serving those in need locally such as Son Light House (food pantry), Shepherd of the Streets (homeless), Habitat for Humanity, and several prison ministry programs. Since the 1940s, the pastors of the Parish have served as Catholic Chaplain at SCI Muncy. Currently approximately 30 parishioners are serving life sentences and several are on death row. The connections between the main church and the prison are a constant reminder of the importance of prison ministry. The Pro-Life Committee raises awareness of pro-life issues and provides support for programs such as the Pregnancy Care Center. Justice actions by the parish encourage parishioners to express their opinions by writing to elected officials on such issues as landmines and the elimination of hunger and poverty through the Bread for the World Offering of Letters.
The parish also attends to the social life of its members and the local communities while at the same time providing service to others and often seeking to raise money for parish operations. The Women's Organization, preceded by the Altar and Rosary Society, is one of the parish's oldest groups. The Knights of Columbus have recently established a social and service opportunity for men of the parish. The parish has sponsored dances, held dinners for its senior members, and hosted a variety of other activities such as the Easter egg hunt for children. The annual Parish Festival has given new excitement to late June evenings.
Since the parish's formation in 1941, the role and level of participation in the mission of the church in all its dimensions has enriched the lives of the faithful of Resurrection. Increasingly many lay members have taken on active roles in religious, educational, organizational and service areas of the parish. Several members of the parish have responded to a call to religious life and priesthood.
The story of Resurrection is ongoing. Many have and will continue to contribute to its development. The extent to which individuals and the faith community respond to the Spirit will contribute to the future of the people of Church of the Resurrection. The dedication of the new church in 2008 offers an expanded facility for liturgy and new opportunities for social outreach including the continuation of child care services as part of St. John Neumann Academy. The parish participated in the diocesan planning process "Called to Holiness and Mission" by examining its strengths and needs as well as considering opportunities to partner with other Catholic parishes in the area. The recommendation to join in select activities with Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Montoursville actually returns Church of the Resurrection to its origins. At its inception in 1941 the pastor of Church of the Resurrection also served the newly formed Transfiguration mission in Montoursville for the Catholic community there.
As the people of Resurrection Parish reflect on the mystery of the Resurrection, the mission of the parish has become clearer as expressed in the newly revised mission statement: Church of the Resurrection gathers diverse communities into a Catholic parish. Rooted in the celebration of the Eucharist, we respond to the grace of our baptism by building our family of faith. We evangelize through word and deed, offer opportunities for spiritual growth and serve the poor and underrepresented.
With this heightened awareness and commitment, the people of Church of the Resurrection embrace the words and the call to mission of the Risen Christ.
Peace be with you . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22)
1941-1945 Fr. Hubert McGranaghan