August 25, 2010 // Uncategorized

Celebrating in style

St. Patrick Church, Ligonier, celebrates 150th anniversary

By Kay Cozad

LIGONIER — Neither the threat of rain nor the stiflingly humid temperatures detoured the Anglo and Hispanic communities of St. Patrick Church, Ligonier, from gathering together to celebrate the parish’s 150th anniversary on Sunday, Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades concelebrated two Masses, one in English and the other in Spanish, with St. Patrick pastor Father Wilson Corzo, who spoke of his gratitude at each Mass for the many opportunities the bishop has provided for growth in the parish.

“It is a joy to be with you today to celebrate with thanksgiving the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick Parish,” began Bishop Rhoades. “And what a beautiful feast it is to celebrate your parish anniversary: The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary body and soul into heaven.”

During the Spanish Mass the bishop was bedecked in a golden chasuble, beautifully appliquéd with colorful images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The standing- room only congregation sang clearly in their mother tongue in praise of the Father, accompanied by a Hispanic band replete with guitars, tambourines and castanets.

During his homily the bishop summarized the history of the parish and its ardent ancestry saying, “Despite the hard economic times on the eve of the Civil War, strong and faith-filled Catholics made many sacrifices to build this parish, beginning with a log cabin church on North Martin Street.” He remembered with gratitude not only those early pioneers but the faithful priests who served the parish as well.

And with thanksgiving to God for the many blessings bestowed on the parish since its establishment in 1860, Bishop Rhoades prayed “that the Lord will continue to bless your parish as you move into the future with faith and hope.”

He went on to encourage those in attendance to look to Mary, for spiritual nurturing. “Mary, our spiritual mother, is queen of heaven and earth. She has a motherly affection for us and is concerned for our salvation. … She is very close to us…”

“Mary,” the bishop added, “always points us to Jesus. She helps us to know, love and praise her Son.” In closing he said, “Today we rejoice at Mary’s assumption into heaven. We rejoice in the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick Parish. May this community of faith always honor the holy Mother of God, strive to imitate her virtues and be close to her on the journey to salvation. Mary, assumed body and soul into heaven pray for us.”

Following the Mass, Matlachines Guadalupanos De San Patricio, St. Patrick’s ethic dance group met Bishop Rhoades outside the church with a colorful performance of welcome. Close to 400 parishioners, Anglo and Hispanics alike, gathered on the church grounds then for a fiesta offering Mexican foods, drink and traditional Mexican dance entertainment.

Claudia Villalobos has been a parishioner of St. Patrick’s for 17 years. She has danced with the Matlachines Guadalupanos De San Patricio group since the time her uncle initiated it 15 years ago. She reports the group dispersed a few years ago, but was revitalized last year and is again dancing at celebrations around the area.

“These are traditional Mexican dances. They are giving thanks to God — for the rain — for corn,” she said, adjusting her colorful, floor-length beaded costume. Dancers from the Folkaloric group in Goshen joined in the festivities as well.

Dorothy Mynhier, parishioner since 1930 said of the anniversary celebration, “I think it’s great — we’re trying to communicate. … We’re getting acquainted.”

Leticia Pena, agreed. A parishioner of St. Patrick Parish since 1993, Pena headed the the anniversary celebration planning committee and said the three months of planning has paid off. “I’m so happy. I thank God that the rain stopped. Everything is good. We want to have unity — one community. That is our main point.”

Daniel Silva, George Rodriguez and Pedro Delira worked behind the scenes barbecuing the chicken for the fiesta. Silva, who hails from Mexico, said, “I am involved in church as (an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist). I enjoy being part of church. I like this town.”

Father Corzo was pleased with the turnout at the celebration and said, “I think the celebration was important because it united many people in the congregation. Many people live in identification with the Church and it was interesting for us. The presence of the bishop was important for us because people like talking to him and knowing they have one pastor to help the community. They are more motivated now.”

And in gratitude Father Corzo added, “I thank the bishop and the Catholics. Working together is so important. I thank the bishop for coming and for the motivation. And for the time he shared with us. I also thank all the parishioners that helped.”

As the St. Patrick community united over colorful ethnic foods, music and dance entertainment, Bishop Rhoades had this to say, “It’s always a pleasure to celebrate a parish anniversary. It’s a time to think about the past and the ancestors of the faith who built this church. But it’s also a time to be renewed in the faith and build community in God’s love. To be inspired by history and move into the future with enthusiasm and renewed faith.”

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