As part of his introductions to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William Lori has been making the rounds to local parishes and acclimating himself to the area.
It's an honor for every parish, but the timing for Lori's visit to St. Joseph Parish in Cockeysville added an extra bit of importance to Saturday's 4 p.m. Mass.
"We had improved the interior of the church, (and) the renovation was all in connection with our 160th anniversary," said the Rev. Paul Cook, pastor. "We were celebrating the anniversary and celebrating his first visit."
"People got really into it," Cook said of Lori's visit and his message from the altar. "You can sense when people are part of worship, and they really were. The music was great, the response was great, and that was most important to him, I'm sure."
After Mass, Lori stayed for more than an hour, greeting each parishioner who sought him out and posing for pictures with young children and families.
In making the visit, Lori was introduced to one of the area's oldest and most historic parishes. The church itself was dedicated on Halloween in 1852 at a Mass attended by more than 1,000 people, and when the parish celebrated the 100th anniversary of its first Mass in 1946, St. Joseph's remained the only Catholic parish from Towson to the Pennsylvania line.
The church and school buildings have gone through several upgrades and renovations over the years, and Cook said Lori was complimentary of the facilities, though he laughed while noting the conditions of the archbishop's visit — a packed house — weren't exactly conducive to seeing the new floors, pews, seat cushions, kneelers and widened aisles that were installed this summer.
"You really need to see it in an empty church to appreciate it," he said.