Father Jim Schwartz
Bishop Matthew Clark appointed Father James Schwartz the fourth pastor of St. Louis parish, effective June 29, 1993. Father Jim had been ordained twenty-five years at that time and had the experience of a variety of ministries. A graduate of St. Bernard’s Seminary, he holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen ordained Father Jim to the ministerial priesthood on June 1, 1968.
Rev. James A. Schwartz Pastor 1993-2005
Through the years, his assignments had included four years as assistant pastor of St. Theodore’s Church in Gates, seven years as the Chaplain at Rochester General Hospital, and eight years as the Director of the Diocesan Ministry to Priests team. Concurrently, Father Jim served as the Spiritual Director and the Rector of Becket Hall. He had taught as an Adjunct Professor at St. Bernard’s Institute and in The Lay School of Theology.
In 1987, Father Jim was invited to serve on the national staff of the Center for Human Development based in Washington, D.C. on the grounds of the Catholic University. In this position, Father Jim helped initiate Diocesan Ministry to Priests programs to many dioceses throughout the country. He specialized in leading priests retreats and leading workshops in spiritual direction. After three years in Washington, he returned to our diocese as the pastor of Holy Family Church in Rochester.
Renovation of the Manse
In the summer of 1993, the St. Louis parish community came together to renovate the interior of the Manse. Coordinator of the project, Sally Schrecker, was quoted in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle remarking how “it was a wonderful combined effort of a lot of people.” Many hours of work went into the project that included new period-style wallpaper and fresh coats of paint. All the work was performed with the commitment to keep the look authentic to the period when the Manse was built.
As an active parish volunteer, Sally Schrecker became progressively more involved in the physical operation of our seven-building parish complex. Eventually, Father Jim hired Sally to be the operations manager of the parish. This enabled Sally to use her many gifts in the service of the parish, while it afforded Father Jim the opportunity to focus on the pastoral and spiritual needs of the parish community.
In October 1993, the Seventh General Diocesan Synod was held at the Riverside Convention Center. A major result of the Synod was the development of four goals, which were to become parish priorities.
The Four Synod Goals were:
- Form Catholics in beliefs, Catholic morality and spirituality throughout life.
- Advocate for the consistent life ethic.
- Recognize and value the dignity of women in Church and society.
- Promote the growth of small Christian communities.
Father Jim spearheaded this process and delegated leadership of each of these goals to parishioners and their subsequently chosen committee members. Two of the parish committees changed their names to reflect the synod focus and a new parish committee was initiated. The Christian Formation Committee was renamed the Lifelong Faith Formation Committee.
The Consistent Life Ethic (CLE) Committee replaced the Social Outreach Ministry Committee. Along with social outreach, the sacredness of all human life is the context out of which parish ministry flows. The issues of abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, violence, war and poverty continue to be the focus of the CLE Committee.
The Dignity of Women Committee, chaired by Sister Rosemary Sherman, RSM, helped raise the consciousness of the parish to the value of inclusiveness. We continue to strive to eliminate sexist language in the ways we celebrate liturgy and work for the equality of men and women in church and society.
The fourth synod goal of fostering Small Christian Communities finds expression at St. Louis in a wide variety of communities that respond to particular needs. Ongoing bible study and seasonal prayer groups attest to the spiritual vitality of the parish. We continue to foster the development of small Christian communities in our vision to be a community of communities.
Desiring to assess the gifts and and the needs of our parish community more clearly, the Parish Council implemented a parish census, which was completed on April 2, 1995. More than a hundred trained parish volunteers went to every home within our parish boundaries with the invitation for all to participate in our parish community as they wished. This enabled us to update our parish database. More importantly, we were able to welcome back some people who were alienated from our Catholic community. Our parish volunteers were evangelizers - people who witnessed to God’s unconditional love for us.
A New Baptismal Font
Father Jim and the Liturgy Committee renewed the effort begun by Father Hohman to create an area in which a baptismal font could become a focal point during liturgical celebrations. After considerable parishioner input, a decision to construct a new baptismal font was made on November 6, 1995. The font was to be created within the main entrance of the Church. Blueprints were submitted and revised, costs were determined and revised until the font was created. On August 17, 1996, Bishop Clark celebrated the Sacrament of Baptism using the new font for the first time. Matthew McKnight was the first parishioner of St. Louis parish to receive the life-giving waters of baptism in this new font, with his proud parents, Debbie and Larry, joyfully participating in the celebration. The baptism was celebrated during a regular Sunday Liturgy with Bishop Clark presiding and Father Jim concelebrating.
In 1996 a new baptismal font was constructed just inside the main entrance of the Church. It serves as a focal point of liturgical celebrations while it affirms our parish as a community of the baptized.
Our Changing Campus
To facilitate communication and as an enhancement of parish service availability, the Ministry Center of the parish was centralized into one location at 64 South Main Street. This entailed moving some offices from 46 South Main Street to join others previously located at 60 South Main Street. The move-in date was April 23, 1996, but the process began in 1995 with the closing of the Convent at 64 South Main Street.
New Director of Liturgical Music
In 1995, Stephanie Honz succeeded Ginny Miller as Director of Liturgical Music. Stephanie introduced new challenges for the choir in seasonal liturgical music and a wider variety of psalms. Pieces by composers such as Mozart and Bach were added to the choir’s repertoire. Stephanie’s ability as an organist has been both nationally and internationally acclaimed. She has been able to raise the musical ability of the entire congregation and increase their love for sacred music. Stephanie has also begun a sharing of musical resources with the organist and choir of St. Catherine’s, Mendon. Under Stephanie’s leadership the choir has made several trips to perform in Rome and other European cities.
Stephanie Honz, Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Liturgical Music
Diocesan Pastoral Planning
During 1997, the diocese began to look at the decreasing number of ordained priests and the needs of the local Church, a diocesan-wide process of clustering of parishes began. In initiating Pastoral Planning, Bishop Matthew Clark called upon all parishes of the diocese to enter a new era of collaboration. All parishes in the diocese were organized into planning groups.
St. Louis was placed in a cluster that includes the Church of the Transfiguration and St. Catherine’s in Mendon. One outcome of the collaboration was an annual Lenten retreat conducted jointly with the three churches.
The Death of Father Reddington
As 1997 drew to a close, so did a major chapter in the history of our parish. “He died in his home, next to the Church, the Church that he built, five days after celebrating the Christmas liturgy that marked the 40th anniversary of this house of God.” Thus began the funeral eulogy of Father John Reddington, given January 1, 1998 by the fourth pastor of the St. Louis Community, Father Jim. At age 84, not quite two months shy of being age 85, Father Reddington had passed on a great legacy to the Church of Rochester. Both the Mass of the High Priest, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Hickey, and the Funeral Mass, celebrated by Bishop Matthew Clark, were tributes to this legacy and attended by hundreds of parishioners, friends, and, of course, Father Reddington’s family.
New Outreach Efforts in Our Community and Beyond
In 1998, the Pittsford Food Cupboard began as a community project sponsored by the Pittsford Clergy Association and spearheaded by St. Louis Deacon Tom Driscoll.
That same year the parish joined with Catholic Family Center to sponsor a refugee family - the Ali family, eight children and their mother - from Barava, Somalia.
Taking the idea one step further, later in 1998 a new parish ministry known as Saint’s Place was begun under the leadership of Colleen Knauf. Working from donated space in the Old Pickle Factory in Pittsford, Saint’s Place secured an early donation from Xerox and put it toward the purchase of a van to pick up donations.
In 2000 the Saint's Place ministry moved to the St. Louis campus. From headquarters at 46 South Main Street, Saint’s Place coordinates the collection and delivery of thousands of donated furniture and household items in a continuing effort to help Catholic Family Center set up housing for refugees fleeing war-torn countries.
In 2010 the Saint’s Place Super Sale, the largest annual fundraising activity of the parish, raised almost $45,000 with over 200 volunteers working more than 3,000 hours.
Today, Saint’s Place is a joint ministry of St. Louis and St. John of Rochester Churches, and Catholic Family Center.
Major Renovations for Our Church
In February of 1999 the Parish Council formed a committee to review the overall space needs of our growing parish. In September of that year, Father Jim and the committee presented the Parish Council with a draft proposal for the renovation of St. Louis Church.
The needs identified included:
- Increasing the seating capacity of the Church in light of the shortage of priests, which will prompt a need to reduce the number of weekend liturgies, which numbered one each Saturday afternoon and five each Sunday in 1999.
- Enhancing the prayerfulness of the Sanctuary space by moving the organ and the choir out of the sanctuary into a dedicated music space.
- Responding to overall space needs of the parish community with the addition a gathering space for parishioners and additional classrooms for St. Louis School.
The Parish Council approved the plan and instituted a capital campaign in May of 2000.
That fall Bob Healy from Labella Associates presented a design for the renovations and addition. The plan called for adding 100 seats in the church, the addition of a Parish Meeting Hall building and a Narthex that will connect the church and the meeting hall.
LeChase Construction was selected as General Contractor for the project.
Rambusch Studios of New York was selected once again to serve as lead design consultants for the interior of the Church. They developed designs for new stained glass windows to complement the windows that they had designed when the church was first constructed. They also created the crucifix in the sanctuary and enhanced our Blessed Sacrament area.
Final approvals from the Village of Pittsford Zoning Board, Planning Board, and the Architectural and Preservation Review Board cleared the way for work to begin on schedule the day after Easter 2001.
The first step was the move of the organ from behind the altar to the choir loft. During the construction process, daily Mass was held in the Manse Meeting Room. Sunday Eucharists continued in the church building using an altar in front of the sanctuary area, which was under construction behind a temporary wall.
On Sunday, January 6, 2002 at the 11:00 Mass, Bishop Matthew Clark blessed and rededicated our Church.
A Parish of Active Participants
In 2001, Bea Hack began volunteering as a Liturgical Minister and later took on roles including Wedding Coordinator, and Liturgy Coordinator. Bea has trained and supervised more than 400 volunteers including Liturgical Ministers, Eucharistic Ministers, lectors, ushers, altar servers and liturgy assistants. For many years her leadership of the Bell Choir enriched our liturgical music on special occasions. On a weekly basis, Bea led the Children’s Choir for the Sunday 9:00 AM Family Eucharistic celebration.
Habitat for Humanity
The active support of St. Louis Church for Habitat for Humanity has touched the lives of more than 50 families in and around the Rochester area for over 30 years.
After building homes through Flower City Habitat for Humanity as a parish, in 2004 the St. Louis Consistent Life Ethic Committee presented a proposal that we become involved in an initiative known as Habitat Interfaith Partnership (HIP), a joint project with other religious organizations in our community. That year, St. Louis Church was joined by First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford, Christ Episcopal Church, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, the Islamic Center of Rochester, and Temple B'rith Kodesh.
The first St. Louis HIP home was built on Fulton Avenue in the Northeast quadrant of Rochester. A fundraising dinner and silent auction were held on April 30th 2004 in Reddington Hall followed by groundbreaking for the home that summer. The partnership, which has grown to include Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church, Temple Sinai of Penfield, and Pittsford Rotary, continues to build new Habitat homes in Rochester on a schedule of once every three years.
Father Jim Moves to Penfield
In June of 2005, after 12 years as our pastor, Fr. Jim bid goodbye noting the many ways St. Louis had grown: increasing in numbers of parishioners, with renovation of our church, “but most of all, we have grown in our friendship with one another and our deepening awareness of Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives.” Fr. Jim’s new assignment took him to St. Joseph’s in Penfield, while St. Joe’s pastor, no stranger to St. Louis, came to Pittsford.