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LOWELL — St. Patrick Parish will celebrate 175 years of being a “welcoming place” for a multi-cultural community with a bilingual children’s story hour on Jan. 7, the eve of the Solemnity of the Epiphany, a Mass with Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley on Jan. 8 and other events in a year-long celebration.
“We chose the feast of the Epiphany because the bishops invite us every year to be conscious of welcoming the newcomers. With the kings coming from the East, it’s a feast where we think of people who are migrating,” said St. Patrick’s pastor Father James Taggart.
“It’s going to be a year that is filled with different celebrations and an opportunity to give thanks for the rich history that we’ve had and for this having been a parish that welcomed new peoples,” he added. “We’ll use that as an opportunity to share cultures with one another and with others that we invite to share with us in the feast.”
St. Patrick’s, the oldest Catholic parish in Lowell, was established in 1831 with the mission to be “a beacon for new immigrants to the city.” For much of its history the parish mainly served Irish immigrants, though over the years the parish has also served the Franco-American, Vietnamese and Cambodian communities.
The church recently welcomed a large Hispanic community, which came from Nuestra Senora del Carmen, a Lowell parish that was closed last year as part of the reconfiguration of the archdiocese.
“We came over, and we were made immediately to feel welcome and at home,” said Father Taggart, who is the former pastor of Nuestra Senora.
The parish now has seven weekend Masses — two in English, three in Spanish, one in Vietnamese and one in Khmer.
The children’s story hour that will mark the beginning of the 175th anniversary celebration will feature children portraying roles in the Gospel of Matthew. The event will be in both English and Spanish and the celebration’s opening Mass will be multilingual as well.
Each following month will highlight a different cultural community. The parish will celebrate the Vietnamese New Year in February, the Feast of St. Patrick with the Irish community in March and the Cambodian New Year in April.
“Each of the months has a different focus, but it will continue the celebrations throughout the year,” said Father Taggart. “At liturgical year’s end on the Feast of Christ the King there will be a Mass with the regional bishop.”
Father Taggart invites all former parishioners to participate in the anniversary events and to join with the St. Patrick’s community in giving thanks to God.
“There are so many people who were a part of this parish and helped make it what it is that have moved out,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to give thanks to them as well for the part that they played in making this such a welcoming place.”