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Seasonal Sanctuary

Some local churches cater to seasonal residents

August 24, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald

For summer tourists, campers and vacationers, the seasonal church solves at least two problems - having to drive very far to worship and having to dress up when in a relaxed mode.

John Viscosi Jr. and his wife Felicia attended St. Barbara's Chapel in Caroga summers until 2006 when there was no longer an associate pastor available from St. Mary of Mount Carmel to lead masses there.

Seasonal churches like St. Barbara's have declined in recent years.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Richard Nilsen
Trustee Pete Haschytz of Delmar and Caroga parks cars August 17 at the Caroga Chapel.

"We went to St. Barbara's since the 1970s," Viscosi said. "You could go in shorts and the priests who led services were very informal."

Lay Pastoral Associate Karen Hoose said St. Barbara's was built in 1924 and was very popular in the summer with three masses per weekend for a time.

Originally overseen by the St. Francis Church until it closed, it was then overseen by St. Mary's until it merged with Mount Carmel.

"Now it's an extra ten minutes drive to Gloversville or Johnstown to mass," Hoose said.

Other popular Catholic venues for summer include Auriesville Shrine, also known as The National Shrine of the North American Martyrs.

It will celebrate Polish Day today with pilgrimage services starting at 2 p.m. and confessions in both Polish and English.

There also are masses at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha located in Fonda starting at the end of April with masses Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. until the end of October.

Special events like Polish Day also bring visitors to local churches.

At the Caroga Chapel, trustee Pete Haschytz was parking cars for their 10:30 a.m. service last Sunday as he will likely be doing today.

The chapel began one year before St. Barbara's, in 1923, and is celebrating its 85th anniversary season.

"We count back 10 Sundays from Labor Day and that's when we start each year," Haschytz said.

The interdenominational chapel has a variety of protestant pastors speak throughout the season, with the Rev. Karen Patterson, former pastor of the Reformed Church of Fonda slotted to speak today.

Other speakers this summer included Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and Episcopal pastors.

"We get speakers from former years and word-of-mouth," Haschytz said. Guest vocalists and guest accompanists also help out, with a guest speaker house adjacent to the chapel for the use of the speaker of the week.

At the 70-year ministry of Sacandaga Bible Conference, Director Doug Blanc said he has been working to bring back the crowds to Saturday night concert events as well as the weekly youth camps.

In Edinburg, the Batchellerville Presbyterian Church has Sunday morning services led by Pastor Kirianne Weaver through the months of July and August.

That church dates back to 1867.

Felicia Viscosi was sitting in a pew at the beach in front of her home in Caroga Thursday with her granddaughters Richelle, 10, and Georgiana, 12.

The pew came from a sale of the items last summer when the St. Barbara's Chapel officially closed down.

She said she now has a piece of the church where she worshiped so many summers.

Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter an can be reached at



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