Parish celebrates 150 years - Catholic Courier

Parish celebrates 150 years

VICTOR — During St. Patrick Church’s 150th-anniversary celebration Aug. 12, parishioners noted that although the parish is large, it has a welcoming, small-town feel.

St. Patrick was founded in 1856 on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Aug. 12 picnic and Mass with Bishop Matthew H. Clark marked the culmination of the parish’s anniversary year, said Scott Rutan, the parish’s coordinator of liturgy and adult and family faith formation. Earlier this year, parishioners created a family quilt and took part in a number of special anniversary events, including a St. Patrick’s Day dinner dance and a Pente-Carnival, which was held on Pentecost and featured arcade-style games with religious themes.

Children in the parish’s Christian-formation program also had a hand in the anniversary events, Rutan added, noting that they lined the halls of the parish center with small posters depicting what they like best about St. Patrick. The views expressed on these posters were so diverse and innocent that Bishop Clark told parishioners before Mass began that he couldn’t resist reading some of them.

Bishop Clark concelebrated the Mass with Father Timothy Niven, St. Patrick’s pastor; Father George Wiant, Father Niven’s predecessor; and Father Daniel Condon, diocesan chancellor.

The Mass presented parishioners with a good opportunity to gather together and remember the past, give thanks for their blessings and renew their hopes for the future, Bishop Clark said. He encouraged adult parishioners to follow the children’s example and reflect on what they like about the parish, as well as the way they have shared their gifts and benefitted from the gifts of fellow parishioners.

“One of the gifts of (St. Patrick) is it really tries to welcome people,” Rutan told the Catholic Courier.

Longtime parishioner Rita Bavineau agreed. Her husband frequently had to relocate due to his road-construction job, and she joined the parish more than 45 years ago after moving to Victor. St. Patrick parishioners made Bavineau feel welcome right off the bat, which she said was somewhat unusual.

“Every place we moved I joined a new parish. They didn’t make you feel as welcome as we (at St. Patrick) try to do,” Bavineau recalled.

Fellow parishioners Jaqui and Butch Matteson had a similar experience when they moved to Victor 33 years ago.

“We registered as soon as we moved in, and we loved it,” Jaqui said. “It’s a real warm and caring parish.”

The Mattesons also were attracted to St. Patrick in part because it seemed to be a very tight-knit community where everyone knew everyone else.

“Of course it’s grown a lot in the 33 years,” she added, noting she and her husband now often see new faces at Mass. Although the parish includes 1,690 registered families, Jaqui thinks St. Patrick’s still has managed to retain the warm feeling that drew her family to it in the first place.

“People are friendly. It’s a wonderful parish,” she said.

“It’s big but it’s not too big,” added Jean Guinan. She and her husband, Ed, have belonged to the parish for more than 50 years.

Betty Butler and her family also have seen the parish grow by leaps and bounds over the years. Butler, 87, has belonged to the parish for her entire life, and St. Patrick has been a part of her family’s life for six generations. Four of those generations were represented during the anniversary Mass as Butler, daughter Jean LeFebvre, granddaughter Jennifer Cornelius and great-grandson Cody Cornelius brought the offertory gifts to Bishop Clark.

Butler said she used to know everyone she saw at Mass. Although that’s no longer the case, LeFebvre said when she goes to Mass she still sees families that she grew up with. Both noted, however, that St. Patrick is more than simply a building where they attend Mass.

“It’s home,” LeFebvre said.

More people have begun to consider both St. Patrick and Victor itself home in recent years as people have moved out of Rochester in favor of a small-town environment with just a 20-minute commute to the city, Rutan said.

“People like being that distance away from Rochester,” he said. “I think Victor has a very small-town feel to it, but people come to it from so many different faith experiences. We do try to meet a diverse type of spiritual needs. We have a real diverse collection of Catholics.”

St. Patrick includes many longtime parishioners, but it also has become home for a number of young families, said Gayle and Brian Reh. The Rehs, who attended the anniversary Mass and picnic with their 2-year-old son, Nolan, have belonged to the parish for about four years.

“We actually checked out several (parishes), and we just felt that at this one, there were a lot of young families,” Gayle said.

St. Patrick also is a very active parish, offering more than a dozen ministries to become involved in, and this also was very attractive to the Rehs, Gayle said.

Parish staff members are proud of their inclusive yet diverse liturgy and ministry offerings, Rutan said. The parish is very family oriented and believes adults need faith-formation opportunities as well. The parish’s care and concern does not end with a parishioner’s death, however. On Aug. 15, Father Niven visited the parish cemetery to bless a new monument dedicated to the more than 100 anonymous people buried in unmarked graves, Rutan said.

Victor residents are grateful to have such a caring organization in their midst, according to Leslie Bamann, town supervisor.

“Thank you for providing such a spiritual focus for this community,” Bamann told Father Niven during the picnic. “We’re grateful for all that you do for each and every one of us every day. The Town of Victor … is proud to have the church as part of this community.”

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