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Stoneham parish celebrates rededication

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Archbishop O’Malley journeyed up to Stoneham July 23 to rededicate St. Patrick Church as the parish celebrated the completion of an ambitious building project that included the construction of a parish center and the enlargement of the church that was dedicated by Archbishop Williams on Nov. 4, 1888. It was the archbishop’s first dedication of a parish since coming to Boston

The rite of dedication began with a procession from the parish center to the new entrance to the church. As members of the building committee proudly looked on, Archbishop O’Malley was presented with the building plans by architect Angelo Petrozzelli and the keys to the church by Thomas Kostinden, president of the TLT Construction Company which had performed the renovations.

Entering the church, Archbishop O’Malley paused at the baptismal font for the blessing of the water and the sprinkling of the congregation.

Following the archbishop’s homily, the dedication rite continued with the Litany of the Saints, and the anointing of the altar and walls of the church. Father John Hannon, a former pastor of St. Patrick’s, presented the Archbishop with relics of three saints to be blessed and placed in the base of the altar.

Prior to the end of the Mass, St. Patrick’s current pastor, Father Bill Schmidt, climbed the steps of the pulpit to address his parishioners. He was greeted with a sustained round of applause from parishioners grateful for his leadership in bringing the project to completion.

Since its establishment in 1868, all of Stoneham has been served by St. Patrick Parish. The wooden neo-gothic St. Patrick Church that stands at the corner of Central and Pomeworth streets has been the center of worship for Stoneham Catholics since 1888.

In decades past, the size of the church building was sufficient to meet the needs of the town’s Catholics. However, since the 1960’s the parish has been experiencing consistent growth. In an effort to accommodate the growing parish community, the church underwent major renovations in 1968 and again in 1987, but the expansions could not keep pace with the ever increasing number of worshipers. As a result, a large number of Masses were celebrated in the parish each weekend. Some Easter and Christmas Masses even had to be celebrated in the Town Hall.

The current renovation has it roots in 1999 when a parish building committee met to consider the construction of a parish center that had been talked about for some 50 years. Although the parish had two grammar school buildings, one completed in 1910 and a newer one in 1958, there was a lack of space for social events and religious education classes. Those plans for a parish center evolved into a plan for an expanded church that would also include a parish center.

Architect Angelo Petrozzelli conceived a design that would meet that goal. Entering a new street-level entrance on Central Street, parishioners can take a right to the parish center or a left to enter the church. An elevator is centrally located. The original nave has become the church’s transepts with the sanctuary in the center. The original entrance to the church, with its high steps, was retained.

Ground was broken for this ambitious project on Nov. 2, 2003 with the North Region Bishop Francis X. Irwin presiding. In October 2004 the parish center — a circular, domed structure — was completed. A multi-purpose auditorium which includes a balcony began to be used for all weekend Masses. The hall has since been named Our Lady of Providence Hall, in honor of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods, Ind. who have served the parish schools for many years. After the completion of the hall, work quickly got underway on the expansion of the church building.

The renovated church includes several items from churches that have closed during archdiocesan reconfiguration. The tabernacle, Stations of the Cross and an outdoor statue of St. Joseph come from Father Schmidt’s home parish of St. Joseph in Hyde Park, which was closed last August. A beautiful oak-carved reredos and pulpit were donated by Immaculate Conception Church in North Cambridge. The presider’s chair comes from St. Augustine Church in South Boston. At the new entrance, two marble angels that hold holy water come from the Blessed Sacrament Church in Jamaica Plain.

Over the sanctuary is a magnificent stained glass window depicting Christ the King surrounded by saints and angels from St. Aidan Church in Brookline. Two windows that flank the center window, depicting St. Patrick and St. Brigid of Kildare are from St. Margaret Church in Brockton. The parish center also includes windows from the Brockton church.

The renovation also included the rebuilding of a stone grotto depicting Our Lady of Lourdes. The grotto was built in 1954, the Marian Year. In its new form, the grotto will include electric vigil lights and a fountain complemented by a red brick plaza and benches.

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