StJoe-StPat_Utica_1St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church celebrates consecration centennial anniversary

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

UTICA — On Jan. 26, the parishioners at St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church celebrated a milestone in its history — the centennial anniversary of its consecration. One hundred years ago, on Jan. 26, 1908, the St. Joseph Church building was consecrated by Father Patrick Anthony Ludden, first bishop of the Syracuse Diocese.

Long-time parishioner Betty Frank will never forget the special Mass this year, held to commemorate the anniversary. Bishop James Moynihan celebrated the Mass. “It was a great blessing and milestone in my life,” remarked Frank. “At 80 years old, it will never happen again in my lifetime. It was impressive and it was an opportunity for our church to acquaint the people in our community with the importance of this sacred rite.”

Frank recalled how, when she was a student at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, the Franciscan sisters reminded her and the other students that St. Joseph’s was a consecrated church and how to identify a church that held that special honor. There are very few consecrated churches. Frank said that a consecrated church is very special because it means that the church is blessed in many ways.

Another way in which the consecrated church is different is that candles are placed at each side of the stations of the cross and at each side of the sanctuary.

Those candles were lit during the anniversary Mass that day as Father Donald Karlen delivered the homily. “His homily was phenonomal,” said Frank. “Father Karlen was once a pastor here and his homily portrayed the love he has for our parish.”

The Mass also included the “festive lighting of the Latin letters,” in which confirmation students lit candles shaped in the form of letters at the bottom of the altar. The letters spelled out the word “Jesus,” along with the symbols of Alpha and Omega.

Following the special Mass in which close to 800 people attended, a celebratory dinner was held at the Ramada Inn in Utica.

St. Joseph’s Church developed in the early 19th century out of a desire by Catholics of German origin living in and around Utica. They wanted a church and a priest of their own after being served by missionaries and itinerants.

On March 13, 1819, Father William Farnan celebrated Mass and on March 24, he was appointed the first established rector. He soon had a Gothic building erected which was capable of seating 300 people.

In 1851, a parochial school was established in the rear of the church building.

In 1870, a new church building was started and in 1871, the cornerstone of the church was laid by Father Theodore Noethen, Vicar General of the Diocese of Albany.

The present church was dedicated in 1873 by Bishop Francis McNierney, Coadjutor Bishop of Albany.

The present church was completed in 1882 and was built of Bradford pressed brick and trimmed with Indiana limestone.

In 1966, St. Joseph Church and nearby St. Patrick Church merged at the former St. Joseph Church.

Father Colman Greevy served as the first pastor of the merged churches from 1966 to 1970.

In 1977, St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Father Richard Dellos began serving as administrator of the church in 2002 and has been there ever since.

Today, there are a number of things that make St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church unique. Perpetual Eucharistic adoration is held in its rectory chapel 24 hours a day. Frank, who is the coordinator of the adoration, said that over 300 parishioners participate each week.

Another factor that distinguishes St. Joseph/St. Patrick from other churches is that it is Blessed Mother Marianne Cope’s home parish. In November 2006, the parish broke ground for an outdoor shrine honoring Blessed Mother Marianne.

Also, the parish boasts a Mother Marianne Prayer Group which has been meeting for the last 20 years.

Parishioners at St. Joseph/St. Patrick are looking forward to the installation of a new roof for their church building.

“We’re a devotional church,” said Frank. “You can see how God is answering our prayers.”

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