St. Louis Center 50th Anniversary Dinner

St. Louis Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration a True Spirit of Thanksgiving

Supporters of St. Louis Center in Chelsea experienced a wonderful day of thanksgiving on Sunday September 19, 2010 as three events made up the celebration of “50 Years of Service and Education.” The day began with a groundbreaking ceremony at St. Louis Center, followed by a Celebration Mass at St. Mary Parish, and concluded with an exquisite dinner at the beautifully decorated St. Mary Parish Hall. Over 300 people were in attendance at the event.

Members of the Servants of Charity Congregation came from as far away as Rome, Italy; Chennai, India, Legazpi, Philippines, and Mexico City, Mexico; to join with their local brothers in celebration of this event. Of special note was the presence of the Father General of the Servants of Charity, Most Rev. Alphonse Crippa from Rome, who presided over the Celebration Mass with his Excellency, Bishop Emeritus Carl F. Mengeling of Lansing. Eight members of their sister congregation, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, were also in attendance from Chicago, Ill.

Starting at St. Louis Center in the morning, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to bless and dedicate the construction of a new administrative/therapy wing that will be built at the front entrance of the original building. This building will provide additional office space to replace interior offices that were meant to be used for storage space, and will also provide privacy areas for parents and therapists to meet with residents, as well as conference room space for larger meetings and training sessions.

At noon, the Servants of Charity priests joined Bishop Mengeling, Monsignor Steven Raica, and Rev. William J. Turner, Pastor of St. Mary, for a Celebration Mass to honor the fifty years of St. Louis Center. Making note of the Founder of the Servants of Charity, Blessed Luigi Guanella, Bishop Mengeling said during his homily that, “We are all Guanellians. Everyone is linked and united in the Eucharist by the love of Christ. We have been blessed by fifty golden years of the loving priests of the Servants of Charity who share in the charism of Fr. Guanella, (who will be raised to the honor of Sainthood by the Church in 2011). The two important truths that we received from Fr. Luigi are his supreme reliance on Divine Providence, knowing that ‘It is God who works’, and ‘Give them bread and the Lord; the bread of eternal life.’ The poor are our masters and the representatives of Christ here on earth. We are all in this together, and we thank God for your support.”

Following Mass, guests entered the St. Mary Parish Hall and experienced a beautiful room that had been transformed into an exquisite dining room filled with white flowers, white linens, a classical pianist and guitarist, and twinkling lights to set the scene. During the reception, guests enjoyed 50 years of St. Louis Center in photos, followed by the Celebration Dinner provided by the Chelsea Grill and Chef Dan Tesin of the Campus Inn, Ann Arbor.

As dessert was being served, Master of Ceremonies Joseph Yekulis led the crowd in a birthday tribute to Fr. Bill Turner, who was celebrating his 60th birthday on the same day. After an introduction of the dignitaries present, the tributes began, and presentations were made by Italian Consul of Detroit, Dr. Marco Nobili, U.S. Representative Mark Shauer, D-Battle Creek, State Representative Pam Byrnes, County Commissioner Mark Ouimet, R–D1, Chelsea Mayor Jason Lindauer, and Chelsea School Board Member Rob Turner.

Following the legislative tributes, Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC., former administrator of St. Louis Center, presented “Legacy Award” tributes to families who have been involved with St. Louis Center for fifty years, going back three generations. These families included the Koenn Family of Chelsea, the Fitzgibbons Family of Jackson, and the Holmes Family of Chelsea Milling in Chelsea.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, chaired by Pat and Al Zangara, spent more than a year planning this event, and included the five priests of St. Louis Center, Fr. William J. Turner, Julie Ballow, Richard Biggs, Larry Grant, Judy Merkel, Norm Neuman, Frank & Sharon Pignanelli, Pat Valaer and Joseph Yekulis. The Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Color Corps from Cardinal O'Hara Assembly also assisted during the groundbreaking and the Mass.

The next two planned events will be a “Tribute to Johnny Trudell” benefitting St. Louis Center at Andiamo’s in Warren on November 5th, and the 23rd Annual Dinner Auction at Chelsea Community Hospital on November 6th.