Anniversary closing marks continuation of renewed involvement
CHARLESTON—The yearlong celebration of St. Patrick Church’s 175th anniversary came to a close Nov. 30-Dec. 2 with faces from the past and a call for the future. Parishioners said the weekend events did not mark an ending, but a beginning.
Infused with new members and an active group of young people, Beverly Buford said now is the time to continue their activities and maintain that involvement.
Father Henry N. Kulah echoed those sentiments.
“By celebrating for a full year, we kept everyone engaged and active, and will continue to do that with the Year of Faith,” he said. “We can’t go back to sleep.”
The weekend finale started with a talk by Father William “Bill” Headley, who was an associate pastor at St. Peter and then moved to St. Patrick when the parishes merged in 1967.
He shared nostalgic tales from those early years before bringing it around to current challenges and how the community can move forward in faith.
“It’s not just priests or sisters who are holy, we all have the call to holiness,” Father Headley said.
The Spiritan priest has been traveling the world teaching peace, which he said is not just the absence of war; it’s being peaceful with each other and within one’s self. He said it’s like throwing a pebble into water and letting the ripples of peace circulate out to others.
Father Headley returned to St. Patrick after decades away, and praised those at the church for becoming a family of warmth and welcome; an antithesis to how unwelcome so many were made to feel during desegregation — even in the church.
That welcoming spirit was certainly evident as participants greeted the priest with hugs and shared memories. They did the same for Father Phillip Howard, who served at St. Patrick from 1992-95 and was the last Holy Ghost priest before the religious order left the state.
In a sad twist, Father Howard died on Dec. 4 after returning to his home in New York. Joan Mack, a member of St. Patrick’s, said the entire congregation was distraught over the news.
Father Howard felt ill over the weekend, she said, but joined the finale events, with a vigil Mass on Dec. 1 celebrated by Father Headley and the last Mass of the anniversary year on Dec. 2 with Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone.
Parishioners presented new sacred vessels to the church to honor the past and underscore a new energy moving into the future.