The Resurrection of West Park's St. Patrick's Parish
We were dealt an unimaginable shock several years ago when the Catholic Diocese decided that St. Patrick’s should close. Our beloved St. Patrick’s Parish at the corner of Rocky River Drive and Puritas Avenue, a beacon in our community for 163 years was closing.
We were married at the altar, had our babies christened, watched our children take the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation and then graduate from one of the largest and best grade schools in the state of Ohio. We watched our loved one’s caskets carried down the stone steps and on the opposite scale showered brides and grooms with rice in front of the church.
The best moments of our lives were at St. Patrick’s. We made life-long friends, celebrated New Year’s Eve in Thorpe Hall, watched the boy’s ball games and the girls marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This institution gave us so much. It was and is the fabric of our neighborhood.
St. Patrick’s helped the neighborhood with a hunger center for the least well off, helped additive souls with group meetings, guided children at sports, and provided religious instruction for public schools students. The parish gave freely to the community.
Our mounted campaign of “Save St. Pat’s" included meetings, signs on every business on Rocky River Drive, Lorain and Puritas Avenues. Signs in almost every yard and almost 4,000 signatures in three weeks time asking the bishop for more time. About two dozen parishioners met every night to say rosary, but we lost the battle and St. Patrick’s closed.
We became “Roaming Catholics” for two years. We couldn’t find a parish to call “ours”. Friends drifted to different parishes and we lost touch.
And then a miracle happened. St. Patrick’s would reopen! Now we are a large parish family again, but there are a few empty pews waiting to be filled.
We live in a disjointed society. We might have two hundred facebook friends, but don’t know our next door neighbors. We haven’t seen our old friends in years except at wakes and funerals. The “lets get together soon” never seems to happen. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to return to the places and friends of our youth? A safe haven of friends, dreams and plans?
Climb up the stone steps of St. Patrick’s, open the etched colored stain-glass doors and come home. The main part of the church hasn’t changed much, same pews and the green carpet still needs to be replaced, but the altar is again a joy to behold. Mary and Joseph are back in their rightful place on the left and St. Patrick stands regally on the right side of the altar. The ugly Baptismal tub is gone and marble altars replaced the non-descript wooden ones.
Think back to being in your assigned grade school pew and all the hopes and aspirations you had then. You try Yoga and meditation to find that peaceful place of “now”. You jog, walk and exercise to get “runner’s high”. We are all searching for inner peace and a sense of exhilaration about our futures.
Our prayers of childhood were about getting better grades, making the team, resolving family problems or the health of a family member. Those prayers were really an inspiration to have a better life and the repetitions of those prayers gave us the resolve to accomplish them.
We have felt the loss of St. Patrick’s and the joy of the church reopening, but lingering worries about attendance plague us. Will we be as strong as before?
Find a pew and settle in. Let your mind go to a serene place, listen to our first-class choir, feel the sunlight coming through the stained glass windows, hear Father Ols give a wonderful sermon and enjoy the mysteries of the Mass.
So, come ye back to where you loved being a part of this wonderful institution called St. Patrick’s Parish. Come alone, come with your family, come with a friend to Sunday Mass at 11 a.m. or Saturday Mass at 4:30 p.m.
Peggy Calvey Patton
Peggy Calvey Patton has been a freelance writer for 10 years.