50 Year History – 1966 through 2016
Since 1966, St. Patrick Parish and Shrine has labored through many growing pains, and has a very bright future in the making.
St. Patrick Church began under the leadership of Father Eviston, along with the hard work of many parishioners, hence, St. Patrick was established in 1966. Bishop Ackerman selected Reverend Cyril Eviston, as the first pastor of this newly established parish in the diocese. The jovial Irishman had the support of many people in the area, so the parish began to build.
After saying Mass in the gym at Taylor Mill Elementary School, the cornerstone was laid in September 1968; and the first Mass was celebrated in the new building on December 22, 1968.
Father Reilly was appointed pastor; and he continued to foster the growth planted by Father Eviston. Upon his retirement in 1983, Father Edwin Heile was appointed as the new pastor; who watched the parish grow. He was instrumental in raising money to purchase the stained glass windows for the church that are present in the church building today.
Father Heile was reassigned, and Father Gerald Witzemann became pastor, who continued the supervision of the installation of the remaining stained glass windows.
Father Heile retires in July, 2000, and Bishop Muench appoints Father Jeffrey VonLehmen as the new pastor. Father Jeff is not only responsible for leadership of changes in the appearance of the church building itself, but he is also responsible for acquiring the beautiful statue of our patron saint, St. Patrick and the parish sign out front.
His style of spiritual leadership and shepherding has helped our parishioners continue to grow in their faith by staying centered on the True Presence of Christ Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Not a day goes by where Jesus is not kept company in the beautiful adoration chapel, which was part of the new building construction.
On October 7, 2007, Bishop Foys designated St Patrick Church as a Shrine, with our devotion being to Our Lady of Knock.
In May of 2009, Knock Shrine in Ireland blessed St. Patrick Shrine with a piece of the gable wall where Mary appeared in 1879. Each year the relic is brought out for parishioners and visiting pilgrims for the opportunity to touch the relic during the nine day novena as they offer their pray intentions to Our Lady of Knock asking for her intercession, which helps foster a deeper love of Jesus, His peace and guidance of His holy mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
July 2015, Fr. Jeff meets with the Pastoral Council to discuss the 50 years anniversary and Jubilee of Mercy. It was decided the parish would focus on God’s Mercy and would celebrate its bright future together with its pastor. So, Father Jeff is inviting everyone for dinner together as a parish family. Because it is not possible to have a dinner for all the parishioners at one time, it was decided there will be four dinners held at various times throughout the year, so that we may celebrate our bright future, faith and God’s mercy together as a parish family with our pastor.
In June 2016, St. Patrick will experience the fruits of these many labors with a 50 year anniversary. It is by no mere accident, the Catholic Church will also celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council with an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins December 8, 2015 and ends November 20, 2016.