By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published November 12, 2020
NORCROSS—On Aug. 25, Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, celebrated the 50th anniversary Mass of St. Patrick Church. The congregation wore green t-shirts, a color of the Norcross parish, to mark the day.
“There are many people that we are to be grateful for building the kingdom of God here at St. Patrick’s for these 50 years,” said Father Refugio Oñate Melendez, pastor of St. Patrick Church. “But now it’s our turn to build God’s kingdom.”
– In 1968, Father Eusebius Beltran formed the mission of Holy Cross in an old Methodist church in Norcross. Built in the late 1800s, the church was in need of repair. Future parishioners of St. Patrick Church helped to finance repairs of the mission’s first home.
– In 1970, the mission received its first pastor, Father Dan McCormick, who served 40 families. On Aug. 25, 1970, Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, the second archbishop of the Atlanta Archdiocese, named the mission a parish and after St. Patrick.
– A new church was built in 1981. Appalachian oak, Southern pine and Alabama fieldstone were incorporated into the design to reflect that the parish is a “Southern church.” A statue of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, sits outside of the church. Multiple statues and art of Mary, mother of Jesus, may be seen throughout the church grounds.
– Priests from the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, also known as Fransalians, have been leaders of the Norcross parish since 1972.
– St. Patrick Church has nearly 50 ministries, which includes Christ Renews His Parish, a retreat program for men and women that fosters community and strengthens faith.
– Over the last 50 years, there have been 12,282 baptisms; 1,243 weddings; 5,114 first communions; 2,270 confirmations and two people who received holy orders for religious life.
– The diverse community at St. Patrick provides weekday and weekend Masses in English and Spanish. It is also a parish home for many Korean Catholics. Celebrations include the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Patrick and an international festival.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the original celebrations were cancelled. The Mass was available online, and those attending in person were spread out to meet social distancing requirements. Father Melendez had mixed feelings about the celebration, as so many people were unable to attend in person due to social distancing restrictions.
“I hope soon we can gather together as a family,” he said at the Mass. “But we’re here for a good reason—to give thanks to God for the 50 years of this parish.