St. Thomas the Apostle Building is 50
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
June 14, 2018
CRYSTAL LAKE—It was a day of familiar faces, big smiles, and the exchange of experiences and memories for everyone who attended the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish 50th anniversary celebration of the Oak Street church dedication on June 9.
 
More than 175 people attended the Mass with celebrant Msgr. Daniel Hermes, pastor, and concelebrated with parochial vicars Father Akan Simon, Father Jerome Koutnik and Father William Tunarosa. They were joined by seven priests who previously served at the parish: Father David Beauvais, Father Salvatore Guagliardo, Father Robert Jones, Father Timothy Siegel, Msgr. Michael Tierney, and former pastor Father Geoffrey Wirth.
 
Before Mass began, Msgr. Hermes acknowledged the priests who returned to the parish for the occasion. They offered warm smiles to the faithful and each other. In return, they received enthusiastic applause from all who were clearly pleased to see them again. 
 
This building anniversary brought back many memories for Msgr. Hermes. 
 
“In 1968 I was here at the parish as a (transitional) deacon,” he said. “There were Masses being held upstairs and downstairs at the old church.” 
 
In 2001, Msgr. Hermes returned to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish to serve as pastor. His official tenure at the parish will end on June 18 when he retires.
 
During his homily, Msgr. Hermes spoke of the legacy of those who built the parish. 
 
“Let us give gratitude to the Lord for how many thousands of times over the past 50 years we have celebrated the Eucharist, baptisms, confessions, marriages, confirmations and adoration in this church.
 We stand on the shoulders of people who left this holy place to us. I hope that in another 50 years we will be remembered for passing on this church and our faith to others.”
 
Msgr. Hermes recognized another person integral to the parish, Carol Grivett, a lifelong member of the parish, who has been the church’s organist and pianist for over a half century. 
 
“I still remember playing for our Mass when we dedicated this church in 1968,” she said. 
 
Grivett started to play the organ at the old church on Pierson Street in Crystal Lake when she was 12 years old. 
 
“My only music teacher was Sister Herman Joseph (OP,) at our school,” she said. “Sister was a very good teacher. My fondest childhood memory is playing our little tiny organ and singing at Mass and at all of the funerals.”
 
Grivett added, “My family has been a part of this parish since the early 1900s. My grandmother, mother and her two sisters were all involved in the music ministry.”
 
Following Mass, everyone gathered in the community room for a buffet luncheon prepared by parishioners. 
 
“This has been a wonderful time to celebrate our parish,” said Gwen Salvi, a parishioner for over 25 years. 
 
“Since this building was dedicated it has expanded to add our adoration chapel and this community room,” she said. “In addition to physically growing, we have also spiritually grown. The Church is real in spite of us humans.”