Then & Now: Joe & Judy Parker

In 1977 the new parish of San Antonio was established in “the canyon” and several of the original families canvassed the local neighborhoods, inviting Catholic Families to come to mass at the new parish. Our family had moved to California from Ohio in ‘75 and had been attending mass at St. Boniface and occasionally at St. Norbert’s. One Sunday, literally on a whim, we went to mass at El Rancho (before the present church was built) and just loved the Irish priest, and the spirit we saw there, and we knew we had found the right parish for us.

Judy was born and raised Catholic, I was not. The four kids, however, had all been baptized in the Church. I had previously sought instruction at other parishes but couldn’t find a priest who wasn’t “too busy!” After attending mass for a year and a half and having made a Marriage Encounter Weekend in July of ‘79, I was now determined to become Catholic. One of my main reasons was to unify our family’s faith so I wouldn’t be an “outsider” anymore! At that time there was no formal RCIA Program, but Fr. Seamus, in addition to all his many responsibilities and duties of establishing a new parish, took me under his wing, one on one, and gave me instructions in the faith! In May, 1980, I made my First Communion and was Confirmed. Thirty seven years later I look back on that decision as one of my life’s very best.

Early on, Judy and I realized the new parish was meeting many of our needs. The children had started their Religious Education classes and our son, Mike, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, was enrolled in the Special Needs classes on Sunday mornings. Father asked us to begin the first “Family Life” ministry for the parish. Deacon Doug was our spiritual director, and together, the three of us, and others, helped begin this ministry which would eventually lead to the formation of many of the wonderful ministries and organizations operating in the parish today. Over our “famous” chips & salsa meetings, our primary thought was to encourage many people to help with one small task so that the burden didn’t fall on just a few parishioners to be responsible for big commitments to the church.

To bring families together initially, we began with a Wine & Cheese party at Father’s house, had a children’s Christmas party for all families (Deacon Doug was Santa!), and in the Spring, our 11 year-old daughter, Lori, was the Easter Bunny for the first Easter Egg Hunt on the grounds.

There were so many families and individuals who came forward to establish the many, many ministries we enjoy today. Forty years later Judy and I have enjoyed watching the love, grace and generosity of the new generations of parishioners continue the work of this very special parish. The collective accomplishments over the years are far greater than we ever could have imagined. And the key to all this was the vision, love, and spirit which came from Father Seamus. God knew he was the right priest at the right time!

God has truly blessed us to be a part of His parish, established 40 years ago, to serve the needs of His people in “The Hills” and “The Canyon”.

Published: September 10, 2017