CURRENT ISSUE:  OCTOBER 2023

Madigan Muses: Cornerstone of West Park

 

Madigan Muses: Cornerstone of West Park 
by Marilyn Madigan

St. Patrick West Park will be celebrating their 175th Anniversary this St. Patrick’s Day. The anniversary year will begin with the Celebration of Mass on Sunday March 12 at 11:00am. The Main Celebrant will be Bishop Edward C. Malesic.

Many priests that served the parish will concelebrate, along with Sons of the Parish that have been Ordained to the Priesthood. St. Patrick’s Parish was instrumental in many sons and daughters of the Parish in their Religious Vocations and service to our church in the city and throughout the world.

More details on a brunch to follow the Mass on March 12 will be announced on the parish website or bulletins closer to the day. On St. Patrick’s Day, the parish will celebrate our Feast Day at the 9:00am Mass followed by a reception. The parish will have a unit in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.        

St. Patrick’s Church
St. Patrick West Park was the first parish established in the Diocese of Cleveland, which was established on April 23, 1847. In a pastoral letter, Bishop Rappe stated, “Your spiritual necessities beloved brethren of the laity, are not unknown to us. We wish to be intimately acquainted with your desires for the advancement of religion, and although we may be unable to provide resident pastors for every congregation, we will endeavor to console you in their absence by frequent visits and by sending you, from time to time, faithful missionaries, who will speak your language and animate your piety.”

The area around the present St, Patrick’s was farming area known as Rockport. A delegation of Irish and Germans living in the area met with Bishop Rappe to request their desires to practice their religion. Bishop Rappe was impressed with the request and “the community became a congregation on Sunday March 17, 1848, when Bishop Rappe heard confessions, offered Mass and baptized in the home of Morgan Waters.”

The Founding of St. Patrick’s Church
In 1851, the Patrick Lahiff family donated land for the Church to be built. The first church was completed in 1854 and was dedicated by Bishop Rappe, the first parish he had started. The Church was dedicated under the patronage of St. Patrick. During the first forty-five years, St Patrick’s shared a pastor with St Mary’s of the Falls. 

In 1864, the parish started a school. The Sisters of Notre Dame, Congregation of St. Joseph and Sisters of the Incarnate Word taught many generations in the long history of the school. Unfortunately, the school is closed, but many of us in the West Park area are alumni.    

The growth of the parish required a larger church. The cornerstone for the new church was laid by Bishop Horstmann on May 2, 1897. The population of Rockport/West Park grew and other parishes were founded: St. James, St. Angela, St. Christopher, Our Lady of the Angels, St. Vincent de Paul, Annunciation, St. Clement and St. Luke. All of those parishes were in the territory ministered by St. Patrick.

Holy Name Society
St. Patrick’s parish started having parish organizations, starting with the Altar and Rosary and the Calvey Club, now known as the Holy Name Society. The school was enlarged, another school building and Thorpe Hall were built. With the number of children attending the school, St. Patrick’s had a very active presence in the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) with teams for both girls and boys. The Drill Team was started and marched in many St. Patrick’s Day Parades.
                                                                                                  
As the parish congregation grew, the need to enlarge the church grew. The work began in 1951. The church was completed, and Mass was celebrated at midnight on Christmas Day, 1952.
                                                                          
The parishioners of St. Patrick always looked at the needs of those in the area in need. The Hunger Center and the Helping Hands Ministry are both active today to help those in need. The generosity of the parishioners is overwhelming.

In the book celebrating our 150th year, there is a quote that to me sums the parishioners throughout our 175 year history. “A stone structure, no matter how impressive, does not make a church. People gathered in worship make a church. Nothing illustrates that better than the humble beginnings of St. Patrick West Park.”
 
The Closing of St. Patrick’s
The first group of individuals that requested a Bishop are our heroes and role models. In 2009, St. Patrick’s was informed that we would be closed and merged with other parishes. Following the example of our founding parishioners, a group petitioned Bishop Lennon to reconsider; that St. Patrick’s Church not be closed and merged with another parish. The request was denied but an Appeal had already been sent to the Congregation of the Clergy.

The church was closed on May 30, 2010, with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Lennon. Although the church was closed every Sunday for two years, a group meet for prayers on the steps of our beloved Parish Church.

One of the happiest days for the parish was the day we received the news from the Congregation of the Clergy that our appeal was granted. A son of the parish, Fr. Jim Ols, requested Bishop Lennon to lead our parish family. Thank you to Bishop Lennon for accepting the Ruling of the Congregation and assigning Fr. Ols to help lead us as we reopened the parish.

We are blessed that we can celebrate our 175th Anniversary with our current pastor, Fr. Pfeifer, and Bishop Malesic. We give thanks to our founding families, many who are buried in our parish cemetery; all the priests that have served our parish; the many sons and daughters of the parish who have served the church.

Most importantly, we are and were blessed with wonderful parishioners for the last 175 years.                                                                          

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.  

*Marilyn Madigan is the National President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a Deputy Director of the United Irish Societies of Cleveland. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. John College and retired from Nursing at University Hospitals of Cleveland. 

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