Fifty years of ministry at St Patrick’s
While some churches may be struggling to get people through the doors each week, Saint Patrick Catholic Church is often jam-packed.
The secret to its success: a warm and welcoming congregation that honours God in both word and deed.
The Smith’s church will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special mass next Saturday.
“It means so much, for us to get to celebrate this milestone at St Patrick’s, along with some of the original members of the church, who are still around today,” said Andy Bento, the council and stewardship chairperson. “Some people at this church will remember when my mom was pregnant with me in 1986. I’ve been attending here ever since I was born and this church, and the people here, are very important to me.
“Many of them are my role models, when it comes to giving selflessly and have shown me, by their example, how to sustain a healthy, vibrant marriage and relationship with God.
“Without the people who have come through and paved the way St Patrick’s wouldn’t be what it is today.
“We have families who have been attending here for decades, and they’re still serving and actively involved.”
The church’s history actually goes back seven decades. The Catholic community living in nearby Devonshire and Smith’s expressed the desire to have its own place of worship in the 1940s.
Land was graciously donated to build a church, which was blessed in February 1948 and named the Wayside Chapel, but over time, it became too small to fully accommodate the needs of the parish.
Members purchased another piece of land in 1964, which is where Saint Patrick’s stands on South Road today.
The building was completed and formally blessed by the late Bishop Bernard Murphy on October 26, 1969. It is understood to be the only round church in Bermuda.
St Patrick is currently led by Father Vladimir Sobolewski, who began his vocation as an associate pastor in Poland, before going on to minister in Adelaide and Melbourne in Australia.
He came to Bermuda in 2000 and was originally installed as the Pastor of St Michael’s Parish, before being transferred to St Patrick on August 15, 2012.
There is a stark contrast between the two churches he’s presided over in Bermuda so far, Father Sobolewski said.
“The parish family at St Patrick’s is completely different than the one at St Michael’s because there they were more transient. Most of the people who attended church at St Michael’s were guest workers who would be in Bermuda for a few years and then leave.
“At St Patrick’s, the majority of people who attend are permanent residents, which makes it much easier to build and sustain those relationships, as well as to plan the way forward for the church.”
Bruce Fox, the director of music, attended his first service in 1978 at age 14.
“I thought for sure coming to St Patrick’s would be a temporary thing for me, because back then, I was an altar boy at St Paul’s, in Paget.
“My family are predominantly Anglican and I was just visiting St Patrick’s for a short while, to help with their ministry, until something more permanent could be figured out. Yet here I am 40-plus years later.”
He later decided to become a Roman Catholic.
“It was the best decision of my life,” Mr Fox said. “I’m a deeply religious person and my faith means a lot to me so being able to use my love for music to help people connect with God in more meaningful ways means the absolute world to me.
“I consider the people here to be like a second family, and the bonds I’ve developed here over the last 41 years are unbreakable. It’s a very lovely, vibrant church family. It’s a large family, but a close-knit one as well.”
•Saint Patrick Catholic Church will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a mass and a full choir, at 5.45pm next Saturday. Refreshments will follow. For more information: 236-9866 or email@example.com
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