St. Patrick Church, Est. 1847
175th Anniversary Year
During this 175th anniversary year, we celebrate our past, our history, our present and our future. we celebrate the legacy of the prior generation, the commitment of the current generation and the hopes of the future generation.
Our 175th Anniversary Committee co-chairs are Mr. Joseph Schmitz (443-310-0071), and Mr. Ron Pojunas (443-417-5623).
The church of St. Patrick’s in Havre de Grace has an interesting and storied heritage.
It all started when Fr. James Reid the pastor of St. Ignatius in Hickory, started reaching out to the farthest corner of his parish. A mission he called St. James the lesser. Where our current Mt Erin cemetery is located. About 5 years, the mission church was outgrown, and the first St. Patrick’s church erected on the corner of warren and stokes street.
In 1847, Rev. O’Neill obtained a lot at the corner of warren and stokes streets to build a catholic church in Havre de grace. Records from the Harford County courthouse states that Rev. Thomas O’Neil purchased six building lots for $250 on May 22nd, 1847, from Otho Scott. The corner stone of the church was laid in September of 1847, but the building was not completed until 1850. It was a plain granite structure, 60feet I length and 36feet in width. The first baptism in the new parish was registered on June 13th in 1852.
The first rectory was built by Rev. J. George Steinhauser around 1862. In 1865 Rev. Joseph L. Barry, improved the interior of the church, adding an organ, a bell tower and build a school.
In 1890 a young priest Rev. James Fitz-Gerald was assigned to St. Patrick’s by Cardinal Gibbons. He was a pastor until 1930. He was a skilled stone mason also known for his generosity to the poor regardless of race, color and creed. He worked with both the Italian and Irish communities in Havre de Grace to embark on an ambitious dream of building a new church which is the current church building that we have. In 1898 he started to mobilize parishioners to go to port deposit and quarry stones for the new church.
In 1907 the land where the current church building stands on (On stokes and Congress Ave) was bought from Robert K. and Laura Vanneman that on March 9th 1907 and the more land was bout from Henry and Roxanna Lawder on March 11th 1907. The corner stone for the new church building was laid on August 4th 1907. On September 24th 1913 the land where the convent building sits was about from the Estate of Frances A. Barnard.
Rev. Monmonier who over saw the building of the school and convent. This projects broke ground on December 21st 1952. The school was staffed by the sisters of the holy Union of the Sacred hearts. The school closed in July 1973 as enrollment dwindled. This building is now used for religious education, offices, and meeting spaces for the various parish ministries.
The cornerstone of the current rectory was laid in 1964. The Hall, our newest building was build and dedicated on June 28th 2003.
Between 1847, and 2022, St. Patrick’s has seen close to 23 pastors.
St Patrick’s Church has produced several vocations as well including Rev. john T. Spragger, Rev. Raymond Brezna, Rev. John Abrahams Rev. John Mike, Rev. Robert Panza.
In 1920-21 a mission church of St. Patrick was established at Aberdeen proving ground. This church founded as St. Louise the crusader became St. Joan of Arc Parish in Aberdeen.
Archbishop Lori's Homily for kicking off the anniversary Year on March 20th 2022
Events for the Anniversary Year
I. 175th Celebration Opening Mass & Celebration Dinner: 12:00 Mass Sunday March 20, 2022, to be celebrated by Archbishop Lori; to be followed by our St Patrick’s Day Irish Dinner. Earlier this morning, we will have a St. Patrick’s Birthday Party for our children in Sunday morning faith formation classes.
II. 175th Celebration Parish Picnic: Sunday May 22, 2022.
III. 175th Celebration“St. Patricks Expo”: Saturday September 17, 2022, 5:00 – 7:00.
IV. 175th Celebration Closing Weekend Celebration May 20th -21st, 2023.
Other events we to hope to bring to fruition include:
·Community Outreach – We plan to have a presence in HdG’s First Fridays events, and an entry in the HdG 4th of July Parade.
·Microbrew Beer Social – A Sunday afternoon “Oktoberfest” at Hopkins Brewery, with beer tasting and a caterer. To be held October 2, 4:30 – 7:30.
We also hope to make several commemorative items available to build our sense of community, including:
·A parish gift, such as prayer cards or mugs bearing a parish design.
·An updated Parish History Book
·A Pictorial Directory to help you know and be able to contact fellow parishioners.
Finally, we are hoping to begin some projects such as improving the prayer garden, setting up a small museum to house parish artifacts, and blessing or rededicating the 2022 section of the Cemetery. Previously scheduled events like our September Golf Tournament remain on the calendar!
Message from the Pastor
This has truly been a year filled with many blessings.
I hope that you all have felt the same through our this blessed 175th year celebration of our parish. We will have been able to celebrate this landmark year together.
Last year on March 20th the Archbishop officially kicked off for us the year long celebration of our parish's 175th anniversary. In His homily, the Archbishop reminded us that "As you enter upon your 175th anniversary year, I pray that, thru the intercession of St. Patrick, your parish may stand for years to come at the mouth of Susquehanna River and the head of the Chesapeake Bay as light brightly visible for all to see. May God bless you and keep you always in his love!"
This weekend at our 10:30am Mass, again, we welcome the Archbishop, our Chief Shepherd, as he leads us in the closing celebrations of the Anniversary Year.
Throughout this year 2022-2023, I saw how this 175thAnniversary opened many doors of opportunity to celebrate our past, and to re-emphasize St. Patrick’s mission to be a place of encounter with the Lord Jesus helping people to love God, to love our neighbor, and to be disciples of Christ. I saw how our ministries grew and became more inclusive and engaging.
Friends, our long history includes the spiritual leadership and example of seven generations of countless religious and laypeople. Their struggles, hopes and dreams were anchored in their faith in God and his grace. Like many before us, you may have been baptized at St. Patrick’s, or possibly you’re a newcomer. Evidence of St. Patrick’s historical roots is all around us. Just a short distance down Stokes St. at the corner of Warren, the stone structure was the first St. Patrick’s Church, opening its doors for worship in 1847.when that location clearly became too small for the needs of the parish, the parish relocated to the current location. The opening mass celebration at our current Congress Ave – and N. Stokes Church was held on June 28, 1908. Father James Fitzgerald, a stone mason, placed its corner stone and was actively involved in the construction of the church laying Port Deposit granite blocks ferried down the Susquehanna.
We continue in faith in communion with those souls who came before us. Their names are testimony to our 175 year history. Like these faithful were in the past, we are the fabric of St. Patrick’s Church today. We each have a beautiful opportunity to participate in the 175th celebration, to live in faith and fellowship with our St. Patrick’s family, our Harbor of Grace.
Friends, this is just the beginning of our journey. I am very much looking forward to hold hands with you all as we begin the next step of our faith journey in the heart of Havre de Grace with renewed zeal for evangelization, stewardship, and ministry.
I want to thank so much Ron and Joe the cochairs of the anniversary year for the wonderful work they have done over the year to make the celebration worthwhile.
May God Bless you always. I pray that this parish continues her role of healing lives, and hearts, leading all to God for many more years, generations and centuries to come.
Fr. Francis Ouma
Message from the co-chairs of the 175th Anniversary Committee
Dear St. Patrick Church Parish Family and Community, as we write this, our 175th Anniversary Year Celebration is coming to a close. This has been a special time for recognizing the history of St. Patrick Church and its significance in the Havre de Grace community. We also have had many special events to commemorate this special year.
In March, 2022, we enjoyed an opening dinner and were joined by Archbishop Lori who celebrated the 12:00 Mass for the parish. Later that after noon, we renewed the tradition of the Irish Dinner, which like so many things had been sidetracked by COVID. In May, we came together for an outdoor 12:00 Mass which was followed by the Parish picnic, with hotdogs and hamburgers, and many fun activities for our children and families. In September, we joined after the 4:00 Vigil Mass for an Evangelization Expo, to share the opportunities that exist for ministry and mission in the parish, to reach out to the community and serve those with various needs. To conclude the 175th Anniversary Year, we had concluding weekend events, including Saturday Vigil Mass with Archbishop Lori, followed by a catered dinner, and 12:00 Mass the following day followed by the parish picnic.
In addition to these milepost events, during Lent, 2022, we had a prayer-filled retreat led by the Hard as Nails Ministry. We renewed our presence in both the Independence Day Parade and at First Fridays in Havre de Grace. We had an Oktoberfest Social in the Hall in October with football, beer, brats, and burgers. We held a very enjoyable all grades School Reunion so that old friends could meet and catch up in the building where they attended elementary school. Our parish history, authored by David Seibert, was updated to include our most recent 25 years. We issued a new parish photo directory so we could know all those we see at church! In March, 2023, we were blessed to host Immaculee Ilibagiza to share her profound and moving experiences during the Rwandan genocide, her deep faith, and her extraordinary message of forgiveness and mercy. We also presented a Lenten Reflection evening of music and reconciliation with Mark Forest. Our Mt. Erin parish cemetery was renovated and rededicated.
These events and activities were not just carried out with a nostalgic eye toward the past, but with a hopeful and evangelical look toward being an energetic presence in our community moving toward the next historical milestone for the parish. We re excited to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to our friends and neighbors in Havre de Grace and our surrounding communities!
In closing, we thank the many community and business partners, and generous parishioners, who made the celebrations of the Anniversary Year possible.
Ron Pojunas and Joe Schmitz
(Co-Chairs, 175th Anniversary Year Committee)