Memories forged over 60 years as a parish priest were rekindled at a drive-thru tribute to Monsignor James A. Treston Thursday at St. Catharine of Siena Catholic Church in Exeter Township.
For three hours, a steady stream of vehicles passed by the 85-year-old priest, who was seated in front of the church along Route 562.
Shouts of congratulations, well wishes and blessings poured forth from people he baptized, married and perhaps officiated at burial services of their loved ones.
“I was so surprised,” confided Treston, known as “Andy” to friends and associates. “It was so good to see parishioners I’ve known over the years.”
Monsignor Edward Domin, pastor of St. Catharine’s, described Treston as a mentor.
“Andy has been a great example for me,” said Domin, pastor at St. Catharine’s for 11 years. “He’s an older priest with a lot of wisdom.”
A graduate of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Treston was ordained in St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Philadelphia on May 14, 1960. At the time, Cardinal John Francis O’Hara was bishop of the Philadelphia Diocese, which included Berks County.
Treston was assigned to St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Reading. He was there in January 1961, when the Allentown Diocese was carved out of the Philadelphia diocese.
Treston would spend most of his career in Berks County, where he served as pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Whitfield for 30 years.
After retiring in 2013, he spent the last seven years at St. Catharine’s, where he remains active.
At his retirement from St. Ignatius, Treston walked down from the pulpit and sat with kindergartners and relived what Reading Eagle reporter Bruce R. Posten described as “a human circle of love.”
He knew everyone in the parish and cared deeply about their families, St. Ignatius School Principal Bob Birmingham said at the time.
St. Catharine staffers put out the word about Thursday’s drive-thru on social media.
Wearing a red baseball hat, his face covered with a mask, Treston waved to passers-by in their vehicles.
Somewhat overwhelmed by the turnout, Treston struggled to find words to express his gratitude.
“There’s so much going through my mind,” he said. “I’ll be peeling the orange for about a week.”