Andrew Mentock
Freelance Writer
May 30, 2017 // Diocese

In MY diocese: St. Patrick, mother parish of the city of South Bend

Andrew Mentock
Freelance Writer

Located downtown, St. Patrick is one of the oldest parishes in South Bend. As recently as a few years ago, the parish struggled to find younger members: but that’s now changed.

“St. Patrick is gradually having more children,” said Father Cyril Fernandes, the pastor at both St. Patrick and St. Hedwig. “When I came here there were only two children in the CCD; today we have 18. We also had four first communions this year.”

This growth is largely due to the parish’s inclusive attitude toward outsiders.

“St. Patrick has always been considered very welcoming and warm,” said Rose Burns, the parish secretary at St. Patrick and St. Hedwig.

Another reason St. Patrick has been able to grow is due to its parish events, especially the St. Patrick’s day fundraiser, which has always taken place the weekend closest to St. Patrick’s Day (the same day as downtown South Bend’s St. Patrick’s Day parade).

The interior of St. Patrick Church.

“We have a group of people who are really into keeping St. Patrick alive and growing,” said Burns. “One of our main event coordinators is Karen Horvath. She and her husband, Ricky, do a fantastic job putting together our summer festival and also our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.”

With its friendly community, great events and dedicated parishioners, it’s safe to say that St. Patrick’s is a parish that will likely continue to grow.


Established in 1858, St. Patrick is widely considered to be the mother parish of the city of South Bend.

“St. Patrick was actually the church that started a lot of these other little churches around here,” said Burns. “At one time you had St. Mary the Assumption and a couple of other small downtown churches, but as the city spread out, the churches moved out.”

Another parish that was founded because of St. Patrick is St. Hedwig, which is located across the street. For a long time, there was a strong division between the two parishes. However, the parishes have been coming together since 2001, when they put under the guidance of one pastoral staff.

For the majority of parishioners, the most important thing is the Eucharist. So as long as they can receive the Eucharist they’re happy,” said Burns. “And they know that when they help out at either parish they are still doing the Lord’s work.”

St. Patrick was founded under the guidance of Father Thomas Carroll, CSC. At the time, the congregation consisted of a variety of nationalities, but most of the parishioners were either Irish or German.

As the community grew, so did the need for a larger space where more people could gather to celebrate the Eucharist. In 1886 a new church was commissioned and, two years later, it was completed. That’s the same church that stands today, making it the second-oldest church building in the city of South Bend.

For a long period of time St. Patrick also had a school, which was built in 1866. For over 80 the school only taught boys. Then, in 1950, it became co-educational. The school remained open until 1974, when, after 108 years, it closed.

Since 1972 St. Patrick Church has also been a designated historic landmark, meaning the church will continue to be a part of the community for a long time.

St. Patrick

309 S. Taylor
South Bend, IN 46601

Mass Times:

Sunday: 10:30 a.m.; 5 p.m.

First Saturday of the month 8 a.m. in chapel
Weekday: M-F 8 a.m. in chapel

W-F 12:15 p.m.

M-F 10 a.m.-noon at St. Hedwig Rectory; Sat. 3 p.m. at St. Hedwig or by appointment.


St. Patrick, St. Hedwig: two parishes under one pastoral staff

Since 2001, two of South Bend’s oldest parishes have been under the direction of one pastoral staff.

Over 16 years ago, the Most Reverend Bishop John D’Arcy combined St. Patrick and St. Hedwig, which are located in downtown South Bend, right across the street from each other.

“The parishes decided to combine rather than having two different priests,” said Father Cyril Fernandes, the pastor at both parishes. “There was a lack of priests, so the bishop thought it was the best to combine them under one pastor and an associate pastor.”

The number of families at each parish had also decreased significantly as parishioners migrated to rural areas, making the communities small enough to managed by one staff.

Given the church’s proximity to one another, the decision to combine may seem like an easy choice: but historically, St. Patrick, which was founded by Irish immigrants, and St. Hedwig, which was founded by Polish immigrants, were in opposition of one another.

“It was taken down long ago, but in the beginning St. Patrick had a fence built between the parishes, and they wouldn’t let any of the Polish to cross it,” said Rose Burns, the parish secretary for both churches. By the time the two parishes were combined the feud between them had been over for years, but there have still been difficult moments getting them to come together.

Father Leonard Chrobot was the first pastor given the responsibility of both parishes. He had been the pastor of St. Hedwig since 1995, before he was also put in charge of St. Patrick in 2001. Following Father Chrobot was Father Fernandes, who has been the pastor of both parishes for the past four years.

“It was difficult to bring the parishes together when I came here four years ago. The Polish and Irish are very traditional,” said Father Fernandes. “I think they are slowly getting together.”

An integral part of bringing the two parishes together has been the events that put the parishioners in a situation where they have to work together. There are even a handful of people who will willingly volunteer for fill a need, or help with a project, at either one.

“I call them the ‘Pat-wig Group’ because they help at St. Hedwig and at St. Patrick,” said Burns.

Another unique aspect of the pastoral staff is that its parochial vicar is from the Congregation of Holy Cross

“It’s not something that’s very regular,” said Father David Kashangaki, CSC, who is the current parochial vicar at the parishes. “But I came back from overseas in 2010 and I was looking for something to do. The bishop asked my provincial if he could assign me as the parochial vicar, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Also helping out is retired priest Father Camillo Tirabassi, who lives at the St. Hedwig rectory during the summer and fall.

Masses have been divided up between the two parishes. St. Hedwig has a Saturday Mass at 4 p.m., a Sunday Mass at 9 a.m., a Vietnamese Mass on the last Sunday of the month at 5 p.m.; and weekday Mass on Monday and Tuesday at 12:15 p.m.

St. Patrick has Sunday Mass at both 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and weekday Mass Monday-Friday and first Saturday of the month at 8 a.m. Confession can be heard every weekday at the St. Hedwig rectory from 10 a.m. to noon, and on Saturdays at St. Hedwig from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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