A year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Macedonia kicked off Oct. 8 with a special Saturday Mass, followed by a reception.

The Rev. Kevin Shemuga, parish pastor, celebrated the Mass with Monsignor Victor Bonnell, Deacon Dave Govern and The Rev. Phillip Pritt, who was parish's second pastor, serving from 1983 to 1992.

Many past parishioners also attended the service, which had about 200 in attendance. The Knights of Columbus served as honor guard and the church choir was joined by the bell choir to lead the congregation in the hymns and sung responses of the Mass.

Following Mass, there was a combined catered and pot-luck reception held in the church gathering hall.

Susan Govern, speaking for the committee that is planning events to mark the 50th anniversary, said parishioners are planning special events throughout the year, in addition to the regular activities the busy parish has on its calendar.

"This is the kickoff for the whole year, because the actual 50th anniversary will be Oct. 7, 2017," she said. "During this year, we have each month different events so the people can come together to socialize and to grow spiritually."

For example, an outdoor movie and bonfire is set for Oct. 14, with hot dogs, s'mores, popcorn and hot cocoa from 7 to 10:30 p.m., followed by a "Trunk or Treat" fundraiser Oct. 15 from 1 to 3 p.m.

In November, an attic sale to support the parish's music ministry is planned for Nov. 5, followed by a night at the races on Nov. 12. The committee is hoping to organize a family bowling Sunday some time in November as well.

December's big event will come on Dec. 12, when the parish marks Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day with a Mass and fiesta.

"We're hoping to do a caroling event close to Christmas time, along with the choir, to go around to some nursing homes. The people of the parish will be invited to join the choir," Govern said.

Other planned events include a family dance night in January, and a soup kitchen fundraiser, Mardi Gras and bake sale in February. In March, the parish will enjoy its annual Lenten fish fries.

Govern said about a dozen committee members have been meeting monthly since last spring to make plans for the upcoming year, but volunteers are invited to help out by filling out sign-up sheets at the church.

Our Lady of Guadalupe church was founded by the Rev. Lloyd Boymer, who was an associate pastor at St. Barnabas Parish in Northfield Center. After determining St. Barnabas Parish had 503 Catholic families who lived in Macedonia, the Rev. Boymer petitioned the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, showing the growing number of Catholic families in Macedonia meant a new parish was needed. He also asked that it be placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared in 1531 to an Aztec Indian traveling to mass in honor of the Conception of Mary.

The parish today has a worship space with seating for nearly 800 people, and room for up to 1,000 with added pews.

The current pastor, the Rev. Kevin Shemuga, became the church's fifth pastor in March. He replaced the Rev. David Trask, who served the parish for 16 years.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433