Trish Linner
Freelance Writer
December 30, 2014 // Uncategorized

St. Monica celebrates Christmas, centennial year ahead

Trish Linner
Freelance Writer

By Trish Linner

For more photos visit the photo gallery.

Parishioners of St. Monica Parish in Mishawaka celebrate the Christmas Eve Mass Dec. 24. The parish will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015.

MISHAWAKA — Christmas Mass at St. Monica Parish in Mishawaka was extra special this year as Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, pastor there, announced the beginning of the yearlong celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the parish.

The parish was originally founded by the Catholic families who lived on the north side of the St. Joseph River in Mishawaka. They had attempted to establish a church near their homes for many years, but had met with failure until 1915. St. Monica Parish was finally established on Sept. 4, 1915, when a Baptist church originally erected in 1868 was purchased. The church was immediately remodeled for Catholic worship.

Bishop Herman J. Alerding of the Diocese of Fort Wayne dedicated the remodeled church on Oct. 17 to serve 150 families. It became apparent from the immediate growth that a new church and school would be needed. On April 15, 1916, the purchasing committee secured several lots on the south side of Grove Street between Elizabeth and Ann streets for a chapel, school and parsonage. The chapel and school were formally dedicated on May 13, 1917, by Bishop Alerding.

Father Bleckmann served as the first priest of St. Monica until Nov. 26, 1917, when he met an untimely death during a massive influenza epidemic.

The continued growth of the parish led to a search for more ground near the first location. The current St. Monica’s Catholic Church, located on Mishawaka Avenue was designed in Italian Romanesque style with a seating capacity of 800. Individuals from the congregation donated stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross. The church was dedicated on Oct. 2, 1927.

St. Monica’s current pastor, Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, has shepherded the faithful at St. Monica’s since June of 2011.

In his homily at the Christmas Masses, Msgr. Piechocki noted that so much of the Christmas story involves listening. “When Gabriel arrives to bring Mary the news that she will bear a child … she listens. When the angel tells Joseph in his dreams what is about to happen … he listens. The shepherds listen when the angel announces the ‘good news of great joy.’ Christmas invites us to listen. Twenty centuries ago, shepherds listened, and told the world what they heard; God has no shepherds now but us. We are the ones chosen to hear His good news — and to pass it on. It is news of wonder and hope, of light breaking through darkness. God is with us. Emmanuel. God is one with us. I invite you to listen — with your ears and with your heart. Our salvation has been announced,” Msgr. Piechocki said.

St. Monica parishioners enjoyed the beautiful Christmas Mass and are excited about the future centennial celebration events. “The music was so nice, we often attend the 7:30 a.m. Mass, so we don’t get to hear our choir. They did an amazing job,” said Nancy Sacha, who along with her family, have been parishioners at St. Monica for 13 years. “It was wonderful to see the church so full of people on Christmas and we are looking forward to celebrating the anniversary year of our parish.”

Fellow parishioner Denise DeGennaro agreed saying, “We are truly blessed to a part of this community and we look forward to our continual spiritual growth and sharing with St. Monica’s Church.”
The parish will kick off its centennial celebration on Sunday, Jan. 4, at 4 p.m. with an Epiphany Candlelight Choral Festival at St. Monica’s Church. It will feature choirs from St. Joseph, St. Bavo, Queen of Peace Churches (all from Mishawaka) and St. Monica’s. A reception will follow. There is no charge for the event, but donations of canned goods for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry will be accepted.
This summer Bishop Kevin C. Rhodes will celebrate an anniversary Mass on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 1 p.m. followed by a dinner. Additional events are being planned that will include an all-classes reunion. Long-time parishioners James and Nancy Olsen are the coordinators of the parish Centennial Committee.

Msgr. Piechocki said, “I am humbled to be the pastor here at this time. Many of our parishioners come from families who were part of the parish at its founding 100 years ago. Although faced with numerous challenges, St. Monica’s people not only want to celebrate the past; they are embracing the future with faith in God and in each other.”

For more information about the anniversary celebration, visit


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