Andrew Mentock
Freelance Writer
September 1, 2017 // Diocese

St. Bavo: faith home of Mishawaka’s Flemish community

Andrew Mentock
Freelance Writer

Father Peter Pacini, CSC

St. Bavo Catholic Church is located in downtown Mishawaka. The parish strives to share their commitment to the Catholic faith through liturgical celebrations, prayer, education, service and spiritual growth.

This July, the parish got a new pastor, Father Peter Pacini, CSC.

“When I visited St. Bavo for the first time, just two weeks before moving in as the new pastor, I was stunned by the beauty of the liturgy, especially the quality of the music at all the Masses,” Father Pacini said.

“I have found this to be a very welcoming community. When I invited people to attend a ‘Meet Father Pete Night’ in my second week as pastor, more than 100 parishioners showed up, and we talked for two-and-a-half hours about various aspects of parish life.”

Now that Father Pacini is pastor at St. Bavo, he and his team are looking to increase membership at the parish.

“The Evangelization Team is looking at various ways to grow our membership and promote the spiritual growth of our people,” Father Pacini said. “This year, we plan to implement two programs for small faith communities, one during Advent and another after the New Year. Hopefully, those programs can serve to welcome new people to the parish and create more dynamism among those who are already here.”

Other parish organizations are a Liturgical Committee and a Social Committee.

The parish was founded at the turn of the 20th century in 1903 to meet the needs of the growing Flemish-speaking population in Mishawaka. The Flemish immigrants first arrived in the area in the 1840s and, until St. Bavo was built, the majority of them attended St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mishawaka.

The construction of the church began in 1903 and was finished in 1906. Since then, the interior has undergone major alterations and the parish has added a school.

Today, the school at St. Bavo is a satellite campus for Mishawaka Catholic School and serves students in Early Childhood through second grade.

“The three parishes are still trying to figure out how to work together,” Father Pacini said. “But all three pastors and the school administration are working cooperatively.”

Helping Father Pacini is the parish’s staff. They are Sue Alwine, parish secretary; Joe Higginbotham, music and liturgy; Gus Zuehlke, faith formation (includes RCIA, confirmation and first Communion); Anna Marie Clayton, religious education; and Toni Krakowski, parish nurse.

An interesting feature of St. Bavo Catholic Church is that it’s one of the few churches named for St. Bavo.

“I’m told that this is one of only two churches in the world dedicated to St. Bavo, Father Pacini said. “As a hermit, he might be happy not to have a big following.”

Due to his hermitage, St. Bavo isn’t as well-known as some of the other saints. He lived during the late 500s through the mid-600s and spent most of his life in what is now present-day Belgium. As a widower, he was moved to compunction by the preaching of St. Amand. He gave all his worldly possessions to the less fortunate and is said to have died in the late 650s.

St. Bavo’s service to the Lord is a powerful example for the Mishawaka community, which is lucky to have one of the few parishes that are named after him.

St. Bavo
502 W. Seventh St.
Mishawaka, IN 46544


Mass Times:
Sunday: 7, 9 and 11 a.m.
Saturday: 8:15 a.m.; 5 p.m.
Holy Day: 8 a.m.; 5:30 p.m. (Vigil)
Weekday: M and Th 5 p.m.;
T and F 8:15 a.m.

Reconciliation: Saturday 9-10 a.m. and by appt.

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