St. Patrick Church begins celebrating 175 years

CHARLESTONIt takes more than one day to celebrate 175 years.

So when the parishioners of St. Patrick Church started planning for their 175th anniversary, they laid out a whole year of celebrations.

“It’s a big milestone in the history of the church, so it’s worth giving it a lot of attention,” said Father Henry N. Kulah, pastor.

The festivities begin with Mass on Jan. 29, which will be presided over by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and concelebrated by Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general, who served at the church from 1995-99, and Father Kulah.

Joan Mack, who helped coordinate the events, said they also hope to have Bishop Emeritus David B. Thompson at the Mass.

The date of Jan. 29 is significant in the church’s history because it brings parishioners full circle, back to the day of the very first Mass in 1837, before they even had a church, and met instead in a home, Mack said.

Bishop Guglielmone praised the rich history of the parish, noting that it’s almost as old as the diocese. In fact, the first small, wooden church was blessed by Bishop John England.

St. Patrick has seen a lot of history, casting back in time to the days of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, segregation and desegregation.

No matter what was going on in the world around them, parishioners continued to be proud Catholics and strengthened the parish through active involvement, Bishop Guglielmone said.

“Through it all they’ve held onto their faith through some very difficult times, and certainly they should have a sense of pride in that,” he said.

A historical display will be exhibited in the lower church all year and is open to the public, Mack said.

The church will also feature items of historical significance at Mass.

Mack said they will use a goblet that belonged to Father Daniel Quigley, who was instrumental in construction of the current church in 1886, plus a 111-year-old ciborium to store the host.

“Everything we continue to do is connected to our past,” Mack said. “We have to remember and celebrate the people who founded the church.”

In addition to the kickoff Mass, parishioners and community members are invited to attend all the other celebrations, big and small.

  • Feb. 2-5: The church is hosting a mission revival facilitated by Father Freddy Washington, who was ordained in his home parish of St. Patrick in 1991. The priest is also a graduate of Bishop England High School and has many community connections.
  • St. Patrick’s Day: March 17 is a significant day in the history of the church, marking the date when the cornerstone of the fi rst church building was laid in 1838, and the cornerstone of the present church in 1886.
  • A Mass and reception will be held at 6 p.m. to celebrate these historic milestones and honor the church’s patron saint.
  • June 23-24, Homecoming Weekend: Community members and parishioners both old and new are invited to remember the 1967 merger of St. Patrick and St. Peter with a Mass and reception.
  • Participants will also make a pilgrimage to the site of the old St. Peter’s Church at 34 Wentworth St., either on foot or by car. The church now serves as the Drexel House for Catholic men.
  • Oct. 19: Anniversary gala.
  • Dec. 2: Finale celebration.

Mack said details of the final events will be released later, and Father Kulah added that each celebration will spawn a number of other festivities that will occur around it. He said the anniversary is also a wonderful opportunity to build ecumenical bridges in the community.

“We’re hoping by the end of the year there will be spiritual renewal for all and physical renewal inside the church,” Father Kulah said.