By Colleen Rowan
For 118 years, the Society of Mary priests and religious have served the faithful Catholics of Central West Virginia. Last month, the people of Buckhannon’s Holy Rosary Parish said goodbye to their pastor, Father Joseph McLaughlin, SM, and pastoral associate, Brother Roy Madigan, SM. They are the last of the Marists to serve the parish, and are now moving on to new assignments within their order.
A few days before leaving for his new assignment in San Francisco, Father McLaughlin took a moment to talk about the Marists and their history in the area and the people of this great parish. He has served at Holy Rosary for four and a half years.
“The people here have always been very welcoming,” Father McLaughlin said, “and from what I can gather the ones that have been here a long time have really appreciated the Marists who have been here over these years. And so it is a bittersweet leaving because they were so used to having the Society of Mary involved.”
Offering words of farewell to parishioners in the Holy Rosary bulletin, Brother Madigan said: “What a privilege and pleasure it has been for me to be part of that community of faith for almost 15 years. I hope and I pray that, in my own quiet way, I have added something of value to that community that has become ‘home’ for me.
“Soon it will be time to leave this family of faith that I have come to know and deeply appreciate, a church family that I have shared so many memories with,” he said. “I will be taking these memories with me as I journey with the Lord, for they have been a blessing and will always be cherished.”
Marists who have previously served in the area, Father McLaughlin recalled, have often said that those who come to West Virginia, no matter where it was in the central areas, just didn’t want to leave because it’s so beautiful and enjoyed the people so much.
Over the years, the Marists have served in Richwood, Summersville, Gassaway, Camden-on-Gauley, and several other communities of the region.
Next year, Holy Rosary will celebrate 100 years. The parish was started at 1921 by Father Nicholas Hengers, who was the first pastor.
He started down in Richwood and he took care of the area, often traveling by horseback and train to get to different parts of Central West Virginia. The church was originally called St. Joseph’s Church. The Pallottine Missionary Sisters then travelled to the area at his request and established St. Joseph’s Hospital, which will also celebrate its centennial next year. The hospital is operated now by West Virginia University. The original church was replaced with a new church and was named Holy Rosary in 1962.
Father McLaughin along with Bishop Mark Brennan welcomed Holy Rosary’s new pastor Father Edward Teteteh, SVD, of the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries, at a recent Mass at the church.
A week later as he prepared to leave, Father McLaughlin wanted to say: “Just how deeply grateful I am for the opportunity to serve here at the parish and in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, and how much I have enjoyed the good people here. They’ve been so supportive and caring, and I certainly will miss being with them. They have helped me to grow in many ways …. spiritually and as a person and I am deeply, deeply grateful. I just feel that they’re really going to welcome Father Ed and he will have a wonderful time in this parish and have a good experience.”
Bother Madigan has moved to nearby Elkins for a six-month sabbatical, a time of rest and spiritual renewal, he said. However, he will not be in seclusion and plans to visit Holy Rosary and stay in touch with his parish family.
In closing his farewell to his parish family, Brother Madigan said: “Before leaving for Elkins, I would like to extend to you this prayerful hope:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon you. Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
Marists Leave Buckhannon’s Holy Rosary Church after 118 Years
By Colleen Rowan