Video included with this article
A conversation with Msgr. John Putano, pastor
Q St. Patrick’s is known as “the Mother Church of the Southern Tier” and the parish celebrated its 175th anniversary last year. Can you share a bit of St. Patrick’s history?
A St. Patrick’s is the oldest Catholic church in Broome County, and because of this, it is often referred to as the “Mother Church of the Southern Tier.” The first Catholic family settled in Binghamton in 1835 and the first Catholic church, named St. John’s, was completed and dedicated in 1838 by the Rt. Rev. John Hughes, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of New York, when he was making his first visitation. From 1838 until 1843, priests from Philadelphia, New York and Albany would celebrate Mass in the new church. In 1843, Rev. Andrew Doyle was appointed the first pastor. From 1844 until 1847, Rev. James Sheridan served as pastor. In 1847, Rev. James Hourigan was named pastor, serving until his death in 1892, almost half a century of the church’s existence. During his tenure, the present church was designed in the Gothic style by the noted architect Isaac Perry in 1867. Gothic architecture gives the impression of soaring height and draws worshippers’ eyes toward heaven. Construction of the church began in 1870 and was dedicated to St. Patrick on September 23, 1873.
Q There’s a beautiful Celtic cross outside the church, honoring the Irish roots of the parish’s founding families. Can you tell us about the faith community at St. Patrick’s today?
A St. Patrick’s Parish originally served the growing Irish community, but as time went by, it became more of a diverse, multi-cultural community. There is still a strong Irish identity, evidenced by the presence of many families that span generations, and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass and party that draws people from the entire community. All feel at home at St. Patrick’s, not only because of the beauty and splendor of the church, but also because there is a good blend of the old and the new, especially in terms of its liturgical celebration.
Q What kinds of ministries does the parish offer?
A This faith community is very proud of its history and the many ways it serves the spiritual and material needs of its people and those in the community. We have a wonderful music program including adult choir and cantors; an active Faith in Action group that sponsors projects throughout the year, including school supplies, Samaritan House, Mom’s House, Birthright Baby Shower; St. John Vianney Society for older folks; a daily sandwich lunch program for the needy and homeless; Trinity Dinners monthly for the needy at Episcopal church; Pastoral Care of the sick and those homebound and in nursing homes; a growing youth ministry program, including Race for Cross, March for Life, NCYC – National Catholic Youth Conference, Kingdom Bound, Middle School trip; CHOW pantry; St. Pauly Clothing Shed; 4 Mile Run; St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Float); Anointing Mass and Senior Dinner; Christmas Tea; Craft Fair; Breakfast with Santa; CYO Basketball Program. Since St. Patrick’s is linked with St. Thomas Aquinas, there are some joint projects and people volunteer or attend programs at both churches. Our Faith Formation Programs are under one director and all the classes are combined at one location. In addition to activities for the children, there are also some events for the whole family throughout the year. There is also a weekly Children’s Liturgy of the Word during Sunday Mass and every summer, there is a Vacation Bible School.
Q What makes St. Patrick’s a unique parish?
A St. Patrick’s is a community that values its traditions but also welcomes new ideas that enhance parish life. It encourages participation in the life of the parish by calling forth the gifts of the people as a way of building community among its members. It is dedicated to creating a more caring and responsive community of faith that focuses on personal and communal growth in the faith and outreach to those in need. It values our young people and encourages their participation, for they are the church of today and have so much to offer.
St. Patrick’s Church
9 Leroy St., Binghamton, N.Y. 13905
Phone: (607) 722-1060
Weekdays: 7 a.m.; Saturday: Vigil, 5:15 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m.