St. Patrick Parish celebrates 175 years among “a great cloud of witnesses”

Laura Keener, Editor

St. Patrick Parish, Maysville, kicked-off a year- long celebration of the parish’s 175th anniversary, Aug. 14, with Mass celebrated by Bishop John Iffert. Concelebrating priests included Father Andrew Young, pastor and parish son; Father Michael Black, parochial vicar; Father Joseph Gallenstein, parish son; and Father Albert Ruschman. A reception was held after Mass.

Reflecting on the day’s Second Reading “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,” (Heb 12:1-4) Bishop Iffert encouraged parishioners to share the stories of those parishioners who had come before them.

“I hope over this next year, as you celebrate your 175th, you will turn to the stories of the lives of those people who have come before us,” Bishop Iffert said. “Here in the 175 years of St. Patrick Parish, there must be those who knew the Scriptures inside and out and who lived them and who inspired you and others.

“There must be teachers who served here at St. Patrick’s Church who lived the faith and shared that with the coming generation.

“There must be parents who poured themselves out for the love of their children, dutifully passing on their faith to their loved ones.

“There must be those who cared for the sick during time of plague, time of epidemic, even at the risk of their own lives, who lived that love of Jesus Christ.

“There must be those here this place, where Catholics are minority, facing bias and the discrimination of community members around them, and with kindness and love they gave witness to the Catholic faith and formed those relationships with our Christian neighbors.

“There must be those pastors who led this com- munity with faith and diligence, with courage and devotion and love.

“There must be those people who practice generosity and were always there to care for the needs of the poor.

“There must be people who suffered losses and suffering and came through their own dark night and then found the courage in the Lord Jesus Christ to accompany others in their grief.

“There must be these holy people and examples and saints here in the life of St. Patrick Parish. I encourage you this year to raise them up, to talk about them, to share those stories; not only to remember them but also to understand that they are the crowd of witnesses with love for you and your own success and your own faithfulness and your own living out the fire of the Holy Spirit. You are supported by this cloud of witnesses who are there in the stands cheering you on as you run this race of endurance.”

Comparing those founding ancestors to an overly enthusiastic parent cheering on their child at a soccer game, Bishop Iffert said, “they are praying for us and shouting for us and encouraging us and singing hymns of praise. They’re here in this church with us today; this church is filled with saints and angels who accompany us and they are with you with every day of your lives when we have to make every little moral decision that is set before us. We’re not alone. Here in this parish we have more than 175 years of those examples.”

Father Young thanked Bishop Iffert for celebrating Mass and presented him with a gift from the parish — a miter. Bishop Iffert thanked the people for their generos- ity, acknowledging that the miter and crosier he was using that day was also gifted to him from the parish at his installation as Bishop of Covington. As a gift from the diocese on the celebration of the parish’s 175th anniversary and in acknowledging its German heritage (in addition to its Irish heritage), Bishop

Iffert presented Father Young with a relic of St. Boniface. St. Boniface was an English Benedictine monk whose mission and ministry in the eighth century to the German people gave him the popular title as “Apostle to the Germans.”

In a telephone interview, Aug. 16, Father Young said that a hallmark of St. Patrick Parish and its greatest strength is its family community.

“We try to cultivate a family environment with the school and with the parish,” Father Young said. “We all work together and we continue to build up what we have. I like to emphasize to people that this is a real gem that we’ve received from our ancestors and those who came before us and now it’s our job to maintain and grow and try our best to build on what we’ve been given.”

Father Young mentioned that during a recent school accreditation process, the surveyor mentioned that each person was asked to describe the school in one word. Every person’s response was “family.” “It was amazing to hear,” he said.

A big part of creating and maintaining that family atmosphere comes from the very active Knights of Columbus and its Ladies’ Auxiliary. “A lot of our parishioners are involved with that,” Father Young said. Another active ministry that receives parish- ioner support is the parish’s Pro-Life ministry, which hosts a pro-life walk each October. But by far the greatest ministry that receives the most parish support is St. Patrick School — the diocese’s only Pre-K through 12th grade parochial school. “It’s our main mission,” Father Young said about the school.

In its beginnings, St. Patrick Parish received a lot of support from other Christian churches in Mason County. Cooperation with area churches is still important to the parish. Father Young is an active member of the Limestone Ministerial Association, meeting monthly with about 30 church leaders from Mason County and the surrounding area.

“There’s a good core group that works well with each other and we share when we have events happening in our parishes and people attend each other’s events,” he said.

And St. Patrick Parish and School have a good reputation in the community.

“I pretty frequently get comments from people, thanking me,” Father Young said. “They will say, ‘I’m not Catholic, but I appreciate how the Catholic Church stands by what it believes.’”

Photo: At the consecration (from left) Father Joseph Gallenstein, Deacon Charles Hardebeck, Bishop Iffert, Father Andrew Young and Father Jordan Hainsey.