75 years and still growing
Editor’s Note: Much of the following information was compiled from recorded history within the Church of Resurrection and also from Brittany Snyder of Hughesville who conducted live video interviews in 2014 with some of the oldest living members of the church for her Girl Scout Gold Award.
MUNCY – The Church of the Resurrection in Muncy has many beginnings. This year they are celebrating seventy-five years with reflections on many firsts for participating parishioners and the amazing growth of its congregation.
Although Catholicism is the oldest institution in the western world, going back to more than 2,000 years ago, the established Catholic Church of Resurrection began its roots in Muncy, Pennsylvania on December 7, 1941 when the first mass was celebrated in the front parlor of the old rectory.
It was during World War II, the day of the bombing at Pearl Harbor and some individual families, priests and nuns came together to pray for peace and hope. At the time the closest catholic church was in Williamsport, and many of the practicing catholic faith had to take the train to attend Sunday mass at Annunciation Church.
Soon afterwards, the parish grew to include 35 families and Bishop Hafey from the Scranton Diocese approved the purchase of a property that included an empty parcel and a house at 526 S. Main Street in Muncy. Father Hubert McGranaghan was assigned as pastor. He served until 1945. The church’s namesake came as as evidence from “a variety of factors that nurtured and shaped the character of Resurrection Parish.”
In 1949 the first church was dedicated. It was a surplus army chapel. Ed Herman who has been a member of the church for 51 years recollects from stories handed down to him on how the building was loaded on a rail car and shipped to Muncy from Florida.
There was another facility in Hughesville on S. Main Street, known as St. Hugh’s, that served as a place for liturgy, kindergarten classes and piano lessons from 1948 to 1959. It was staffed by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and was later destroyed by fire. According to Hughesville resident, Georgine Johnson, the sisters were residents mostly in summer months in the house commonly known as the Boak property.
In 1958 an additional property was purchased by the parish located on S. Main Street in Muncy which served as a convent and kindergarten until 1966 when the sisters departed. The building continued its use as a facillity for religious education according to church records. This was important to the church and parishioners provided religious education to public school children over the years. The Resurrection Early Childhood Center was created in the original rectory at 526 S. Main St. as a ministry providing day care for families.
The parish continued to grow with many families coming from Muncy, Hughesville, Montgomery and surrounding areas such as Turbotville and Watsontown. It soon became apparent that the S. Main Street property was too small and a campaign was conducted to build a new facility for the parishioners. An empty lot provided a new building that was dedicated on November 8, 2010 at 75 Musser Lane. Father Glenn McCreary has been with the parish since 2001. He is a native of Lycoming County and has been active with the Church of Resurrection for the longest period so far.
The newer location accommodates the continuous formation of religious education for youth and until recently housed the Fun Academy Day Care center for local pre-school children. There is a youth ministry program that has been going strong since 1996. In his interview with Brittany Snyder, Daniel Doyle of Muncy who moved here from New York city said he likes the sense of community in a smaller church and has been involved with the religious education program since the early 80’s.
Another longtime member (since 1962), Agatha Guisewhite who came here from Germany had many firsts at the church in Muncy. She said her children were baptized here and her daughter was married at the church.
Another first that is significant today was the formation of the Resurrection Singers. This group started in 1971 when the youth wanted to bring their guitars to religious instruction. Under the advisors of Mary Swisher and Madeline Saye, and Father Jacob Wideman, and later Father Joseph Bonner, the singing group of 28 youth became a sensation, presenting a “very impressive program.” At first they played only during prayer services, but Mary Swisher taught them how to match their music to the scriptures, and soon they were performing at Saturday night mass. Their popularity gave them another mass on Sunday to play and to this day they play at 11 a.m. Sunday services. Those youth who started the group were Dave Ciraulo, Linda Swisher, Carol Grot, Joyce Herman, Steve Culver, Robert Swisher, Cindy Clark and Barbara Saye. Ed McCarty assisted them with choosing their songs.
Today there are over 600 households who participate in the Church of the Resurrection with many firsts from baptisms, to weddings and funerals, church festivals and the social ministries of the parish. Since the beginning, the church also has been very involved with the Muncy State Correctional Institute for women where liturgical services are performed at the chapel there.
The annual church festival will be held on Friday, June 23 from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday, June 24 from 3-8 p.m. The first one was held in 1944 according to Luminary archives, and has always been open to the general public. The money raised helps to meet the financial needs of the church and to assist with more outreach to the community it serves according to Father McCreary.
The church also holds a service auction in April, hosts Vacation Bible School and various programs for those in need such as The Sharing Tree at Christmas and the Touch of Heart program for children and senior citizens. The Women’s Organization is one of the parish’s oldest groups and they are always busy servicing the parish.
For more information visit the church’s website at resurrectiononline.net or call 570-546-3900. They also have a Facebook page featuring many photos. Their story is ongoing!