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A brief history of St Patricks




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MARCH 18, 2010


Chapel's only Mass celebrates St. Patrick


It closed in 1999, but service held each year on March 17



Times Press Editor


TOWN OF ERIN — The Rev. Dave LaPlante was walking around St. Patrick’s Chapel after Mass Wednesday morning offering a large plate of cookies to those who were in attendance.  Being St. Patrick’s Day, those cookies all had seven green M&M’s on them.


The Mass at St. Patrick’s is an annual tradition for the parish community of St. Kilian’s in Hartford and also for those who were among the 450 members of St. Patrick’s when it closed in 1999. It is the only Mass held each year, although the building, festooned with stained glass windows and a low balcony in the rear, is occasionally opened for funerals and weddings.


LaPlante said it was a big day and noted how appropriate the service is because, “We have a lot of Irish in Hartford and the areas around Thompson in the Town of Erin.”


LaPlante’s homily, after a reading from the Gospel of John, was about the challenges St. Patrick faced when he arrived in Ireland and St. Kilian, an Irishman, went to Germany.  “We’re called to be ambassadors of peace, like St. Patrick was to Ireland,” LaPlante said from the altar.


About 150 people attended the Mass, most of them decked out in green.

“This takes the place of the daily Mass at St. Kilian’s,” LaPlante said. “It’s a good thing to see people celebrating in religious fashion.”

With a handful of parishes in the area, including St. Gabriel’s, Holy Hill and St. Kilian’s, St. Patrick was closed and the parishioners disbursed among those communities. St. Kilian’s has 1,320 families listed as members.


Maureen Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel was a member of St. Patrick’s when it closed and is a member of the St. Patrick Preservation Fund. She said her family moved to Erin specifically to attend that church and now attend weekly Mass at Holy Hill.  “We still feel it’s a beautiful church,” Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said. “I think it’s the anchor of the town of Erin.”  LaPlante has been very understanding and cooperative to the former members of St. Patrick’s and she loves the annual March 17 Mass, she said.

“This is a day you can always count on the church to be open,” Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said.