Anniversary celebration ‘a long time coming’


for The Miscellany

CHARLESTON “Embracing Our Past Envisioning Our Future” was the theme for the 160th anniversary of St. Patrick Church, and three days of activities highlighted celebrations at the parish last Friday through Sunday.

To begin, Bishop David B. Thompson and former priests of St. Patrick and St. Peter Churches took part in a Mass and reception Sept. 19.

“You don’t look 160 years old,” began Bishop Thompson’s homily, to the laughter of those in attendance. “You look 160 years young because of faith.”

He added that, “Goodness has had everything to do with St. Patrick’s,” and the bishop urged parishioners to remember both the diocesan and Holy Ghost Fathers who have served the parish, as well as pay tribute to the Divine Providence Sisters who ministered there.

“How many young people have they brought to the faith, people who are now members here,” he said.

Bishop Thompson also asked those gathered to reflect on the amount of God’s grace that has come from this Catholic community, citing over 50,000 Masses and countless Holy Communions, confirmations, reconciliations, marriages, and Christian burials.

In closing, the bishop quoted words of advice from the parish patron, St. Patrick. “In this life we shall never reach perfection. But if we try hard, we can come twice as close.”

“Let’s try hard for the next eight-score years,” Bishop Thompson concluded.

In his remarks before the conclusion of the Mass, Father Rick Harris, pastor, thanked the congregation collectively for their tireless planning over the past year-and-a-half in preparation for the anniversary, adding, “It’s been a long time coming.”

“Many people ask, ‘Why a 160th? Why not a 150th or 175th?'” said Father Harris, immediately replying, “But what more appropriate time than right now to get our house in order for the millennium: morally, spiritually, liturgically, even physically.”

He stated that the parish has recently hired a fulltime director of religious education, Sister Maryjane Golden, SSMN, and has recently resumed use of its former school building. In addition to extensive renovation work on the school, restoration work on the church is continuing and progressing on the roof, stained glass windows, and doors.

“This will take us into the year 2000,” said Father Harris.

Following Mass, a reception was held in the church garden, with attendees also able to examine a historical display in the lower church. The display included pictures, artifacts and documents of St. Patrick and St. Peter Church parishes. Also, the Immaculate Conception School, Olbate Sisters of Providence, and Holy Ghost Fathers memorabilia was on display.

On Saturday, an anniversary banquet featuring Auxiliary Bishop Moses B. Anderson of the Archdiocese of Detroit was held at the Charleston Place Hotel.

Closing the celebration was a Sunday Mass on Sept. 21 celebrated by Father Harris, with concelebrants being the former St. Patrick and St. Peter priests.