A few quick facts about this amazing parish:
- It is over 150 years old
- It is surrounded by old warehouses and a secular community college
- It is located in the downtown core of a major metropolitan city
- It has no “neighborhood” – no houses, no families, no community
- It was established and built by poor Irish immigrants
If your first reaction is: “It would take a miracle to fill that church” you would probably be right – anywhere, that is, but at Saint Patrick’s Church in Columbus, Ohio.
ST PATRICK’S IS BRIMMING WITH YOUTHFUL, TRADITIONAL, and, some say, evangelical religious and parishioners, thanks to the steadfast efforts of the Dominicans, who for 130 years have been carrying on their tradition of strong Catholic preaching, instruction, worship and devotion.
The Dramatic Early Years: It was February of 1851, in the teeth of the Irish Famine which sent almost a million Irish Catholics fleeing their ancient land to America’s shores, when Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati approved creation of the new parish to accommodate this influx of Irish, English-speaking Catholics. After much prayer, planning and fund raising, plans were adopted for a Norman Gothic design, with two glorious towers patterned after the ancient castles of Ireland. The cornerstone was laid with great fanfare and ceremony on September 5, 1852. Over the next year, construction was nearly halted on several occasions due to lack of funds, yet by September 1853 Holy Mass was celebrated within the walls of St. Patrick Church for the first time.
THE DOMINICANS: Until 1824, the only priests in Ohio were Dominicans. In 1885, the Bishop of Columbus requested that they take charge of St. Patrick’s. Under Dominican leadership, St. Patrick’s gained fame as the first school and church in Columbus to have centralized steam heat. Today, Columbus is in the Eastern (St. Joseph’s) Province, which includes over 300 priests and friars working at home and in the missions, including Fr. Michael Dosch, O.P. In this exclusive REGINA interview, Fr Dosch takes us behind the scenes at his amazing parish:
REGINA: When did you become involved with the parish?
FR DOSCH: I was appointed Pastor in the summer of 2010. The parish had just recently finished paying off the debt incurred for a new parish center and renovations in the church.
REGINA: A lot of parishes have Facebook pages, but yours is especially lively and active. Do you have a number of young people involved?
FR DOSCH: Very much so! We have a very active youth ministry run by our youth minister, Patrick Reis. We have had a lot of vocations from our parish, for the Dominican Order as well as other religious orders and the diocesan priesthood.
REGINA: I also see that your parish participates actively in the March for Life.
FR DOSCH: We typically send two buses – one is an extended trip for high school youth and the other is an overnight bus for adults and families.
REGINA: All of the most successful parishes that we have interviewed place a great emphasis on the sacraments, in particular on the sacrament of confession.
FR DOSCH: We hear a great number of confessions every day. His Holiness Pope Francis is appointing four of us (Fr. Thomas Blau, Fr. Boniface Endorf, Fr. Cassian Derbes and myself) as Missionaries of Mercy for the present Jubilee Year of Mercy. Approximately 800 priests from various parts of the world are being appointed as Missionaries. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, we received the mandate from the Holy Father to be preachers of mercy and confessors exemplifying God’s mercy. The Holy Father grants Missionaries of Mercy the faculty to lift ecclesial penalties attached to sins that are reserved to the Holy See. The friars’ names are being submitted to all the bishops, so they may be called upon to preach retreats on God’s Mercy during this Jubilee Year.
BLESSED MARGARET OF CASTELLO
St Patrick’s venerates Blessed Margaret of Castello, who was born of a wealthy, noble Italian family near Florence in 1287. Born a hunchback, dwarf, blind and lame, her family was ashamed of her and kept her hidden in virtual imprisonment for nine years in a tiny cell attached to a forest church.
It was only through the family chaplain that Blessed Margaret came to know God. Seeking a miracle, her parents took her to a Franciscan Shrine. When she wasn’t cured, they abandoned her.
Blessed Margaret’s faith and courage inspired others in the community to take pity on her and to help her survive. Eventually she became a member of the Dominican Third Order of Castello, where she lived an exemplary life of prayer, penance, and charity. Her incorrupt body lies under the main altar in St. Dominic’s Church, Castello, Italy.
Margaret of Castello was declared Blessed by the Catholic Church on October 19, 1609. She is an inspiration to those who are discouraged and tempted to self-pity. The Shrine of Blessed Margaret at St. Patrick Church is one of three in the United States, the other two being in Dominican churches in Louisville and Philadelphia.
PROTECTING YOUR GATE NIGHT
This initiative of St Patrick’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry “was inspired by my pastor Father Michael Mary,” Patrick Reis, Coordinator, explains. “He wanted to see a youth night that addressed harmful influences to our teens in culture and, more importantly, addressing the need for wisdom and prudence in sharing content on social media forums as well as knowledge of the real world consequences of sharing on social media. We made use of the analogy of our souls as castles (St Ignatius/St Teresa of Avila).”
The concept of a “gate”, says Patrick, “ is a pivotal point in that it controls what comes in and what comes out. That evening, we prayed for the gift of wisdom and increase of prudence in our lives during silent adoration while students had the opportunity to go to confession.”
CONVERSATION WITH A NEW DOMINICAN PRIEST
Ordained May 22nd, 2015, Fr. Boniface Endorf, OP has been designated a ‘missionary of mercy’ this year. Here, he talks with REGINA about his experience at St. Patrick’s.
REGINA: What drew you to the Dominicans and parish ministry?
FR ENDORF: The Dominican charism is to preach for the salvation of souls, which puts it in the center of the new evangelization. I wanted to be on the front lines.
REGINA: What has been your experience to date at St Patrick's?
FR ENDORF: St. Patrick is a great parish. The parishioners are very devoted and active in the parish, and there are always many things going on. Also, we have a great confessional ministry. We have daily confessions and people come from all over Columbus for daily mass and confession. My best experiences have been getting to know the parishioners, and being able to serve them, to help them know Jesus leading them to holiness.
REGINA: Father Dosch said offering people hope in the confessional means helping them see the ways God is already working in their lives, lifting them up in little or big ways.
FR ENDORF: I hope to show God’s mercy to those who come to confession, and for those who have either wandered away from the Church or who have never known Jesus in their lives. Mercy is coming to know God’s love in one’s life, and so I hope to help people know that divine love. Without that there is no hope or salvation, but with it is true joy and peace.