Parishioners and friends of St. James Church gathered Sunday at War Memorial Park to officially kick off the 150th anniversary of the parish and the 100th anniversary of the school.
Sunday's Mass included alumni lectors and music by the St. James Choir, and began a year-long celebration of events.
Burke said the parish, founded in 1863, was began by Saint James Reid, a missionary priest who traveled on horseback. He likened the beginnings to a mustard seed that started out small and flourished to the church and school that now has a longstanding tradition in Sewickley.
"It gives me great pleasure to be a part of this anniversary celebration," said Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe, who read a proclamation honoring the church and school. Jeffe also declared Sept. 9 as St. James Day.
Marisa Tobias, a St. James graduate, who attended the service, said she could remember always having an outdoor Mass every year in the park.
"This is nice that they brought it back," she said.
The anniversary Mass was followed by a picnic celebration.
Events are planned through 2012 and 2013 to celebrate the milestones:
Sept. 21 – Grand Opening of the Historic Photo Gallery
Oct. 6 – Progressive Dinners
Nov. 24 – SJS Reunion, Classes of 1986 to 2004
Nov. 30 – Open House for Community Light Up Night
Dec. 1 – Sewickley Parade
Jan. 23 – Ecumenical Event
Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 – Catholic Schools Week
March – Parish Mission
April 6 – SJS Reunion, Classes up to 1985
April 26 – Sewickley Spring Gallery Walk
May 27 – Memorial Day Parade
May 2013 – Eighth Grade Graduation
June 2 – Closing Mass with Bishop Zubik . Banquet to follow
Aug. 10 – SJS Reunion, Classes of 2005 to 2013