St. Thomas the Apostle of Oxford was established in September of 1966 and its first pastor, Reverend Joseph R. Barlowski, was appointed by Archbishop Henry J. O’Brien. We celebrate 40 years but, as you will notice in the enclosed history, our little church’s story begins long before 1966. No doubt you will recognize names of families, some of whose members most happily are with us still. Claire LaBorde Stanton and Rosemarie Greco were here from the beginning, and we wish them both a very happy 95th birthday. They are representatives of the hundreds of good people who built this parish and continue to give it strength and inspiration. As Archbishop Whealon wrote in his dedication letter: “I ask you to keep in mind that a parish is strong by virtue of the strength of faith by all of its members, and not by the beauty of any building. In time and place, there is a part for each Catholic of Oxford in this church. For each one, each family, each member of the parish community, there is a unique place that cannot be filled by any other. The very existence of this church is a reminder to all of the worth of human life, of the eternal challenge that faces every human being, and of the total importance in life of Jesus Christ. In time and place, this church is unique because it has been created by your parish community out of your lives. It is unique because each of you in your own way will bring your own life to it. And in turn, your individual lives and your lives together as a community of faith will be enriched greatly through this church. This church is the spiritual expression of the people of the parish.”
Fr. Joseph Barlowski wrote at the same time: “My primary goal as your first pastor has been to gather all the people together, so that they might worship as a community in our own little church. The sacrifices and efforts of many people have materialized in our beautiful church. The building itself, as beautiful as it may be, is only a symbol of the community that worships within its walls. It is my prayer that God will give us the faith and the love which are necessary for us to be truly the people of God.”
To Archbishop Whealon’s congratulatory words and Fr. Barlowski’s prayer, we add our own sincere Amen and gratitude. May God bless us all as we continue to “build church” upon the wonderful foundations laid by so many.