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Toledo Polish Churches > St Patrick of Heatherdowns Church


St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Parish: Honoring Old St. Patrick Church


Sisters Emma and Louise Kneer lived in a small home on the northeast corner of Heatherdowns Boulevard and Eastgate Road. Their brother operated a gas station across the street. Bishop George J. Rehring of Toledo changed their lives on June 15, 1955 by purchasing their eleven acres along Heatherdowns Boulevard between Michigan Avenue and Scott Street. In June of 1956, Bishop Rehring instructed Father James P. Brogan, an assistant pastor at St. Joseph Church in Maumee, to start a new parish because St. Joseph, St. Charles and Our Lady of Perpetual Help were overcrowded. Since the end of World War II, many young Toledo families moved out of the older sections of the city for brand new homes and more room in South Toledo. Many second and third generation Polish-Americans from St. Anthony, St. Stanislaus, Nativity and St, Hyacinth parishes were a major part of this trend. Father Brogan became pastor of this new parish on January 15, 1958.

On August 11, 1956, Father Brogan wrote a letter to the new parishioners asking for help, prayers and cooperation. He liked to get know his parishioners; he tried to visit the 615 Catholic families in the new parish. He discovered that there were 400 school-aged children and 400 preschoolers. At the first parish meeting, two hundred people named the church Saint Patrick of Heatherdowns because Bishop Rehring wished to honor the tradition of the old Saint Patrick Church in downtown Toledo and because James Patrick Brogan was proud of his Irish heritage.

Father Brogan loaded his car with his vestments, the tabernacle and all the necessities for Mass. He said the first Mass in the auditorium of Heatherdowns School on the corner of the boulevard and Birchwood Avenue on October 4, 1956. Rent was $35 without heat and $50 with heat. He said the first two Masses, greeted his parishioners and often ate breakfast with a parish family. Oblate Father William Seelaus continued with two more Masses. The first collection totaled $14,914.82.

Architects Munger and Munger designed and Herman Brothers built an “L” shaped building consisting of the church and twelve school classrooms. The groundbreaking on St. Patrick’s Day in 1957 was followed by a free St. Patrick’s Day party at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hall. The church would accommodate 500- 600 people, and the school would hold 480 students. The contemporary design emphasized wood in the wood deck ceiling supported by wooden arches. Parishioners saw large oak trees through the glass back wall of the sanctuary.

The Ursuline Sisters opened the West Wing of the school, Seton Hall, to 527 students in September of that year, despite the fact that the nails were removed from the doors every morning and replaced every evening. From 1957 until 1972, St. Patrick School provided bus transportation; the first bus was purchased with trading stamps. Father Brogan celebrated the first Mass in the basement that November, and he gave the parish a wonderful Christmas gift with Midnight Christmas Eve Mass in the church itself.

Growth was the word for St. Patrick’s Parish. The East Wing or Neumann Hall with thirteen additional classrooms was built at a cost of $200, 000 for the opening of school in 1960. The temporary rectory on Scott Street was replaced by a rectory and administration building in late 1962 for $100,000. In the late 1960s, two lots were purchased for athletics, and parishioner Ken Mossing supervised his crew and parishioners in the construction of the Sisters’ Convent on Green Valley.

After parishioners completed an extensive questionnaire on all activities of parish life in 1975, Father Robert J. Wilhelm and the parish council made the decision to build an Activities Building, new offices and storage facilities and to remodel the church according to Vatican II requirements. They hired John V. McCarthy Company to conduct a fund drive, which raised half of the $1,500,000 cost. The Activities Building was completed in March of 1981. The priests celebrated Sunday liturgies in the air conditioned new space until

the remodeled church was finished on June 19, 1982. It was dedicated on September 22, 1982. During the 1990’s, the pastor and assistants moved into the Sisters’ Convent, and the rectory become the Crites Center, named in honor of volunteers and benefactors Charles and Peggy Crites, for parish organization meetings. Repairs and remodeling continue to meet the needs of this vibrant parish.

While the Liturgy and Christian Formation are the heart of the parish, the ministry of St. Pat’s is varied and filled with opportunities for service and growth. The St. Vincent de Paul Society, Altar Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, Parish Council, Athletics, Over 55 Club, the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, parish picnics and festivals invigorate this South Toledo community.

Polish surnames still fill the Parish Directory. Is St. Pat’s more Polish than Irish? Swieconka is a long-established part of the Easter traditions. There is always polka music at the festival, and it was Polish chicken, kielbasa and all the trimmings at many New Year’s Eve parties. The young parents of the 1950’s are now enjoying their grandchildren – First Communions, oplatek on Christmas Eve, soccer games, Grandparents Day, kielbasa on the grill, Eighth Grade Graduations. For its Fiftieth Anniversary, St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Church celebrated with many activities throughout 2007.




Pastors of St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Parish:

Reverend James Patrick Brogan (1956-1975)

Reverend Edward C. Hoover, administrator pro tem (1975)

Reverend Robert J. Wilhelm (1975-1985)

Reverend Robert Holden (1985-1991)

Reverend Dennis Metzger (1991-2002)

Reverend William J. Kubacki (2002-2007)

Reverend Dennis G. Walsh (2007-present)



Principals of St. Patrick of Heatherdowns School:

Sr. Anne Marie Howard, OSU (1957-1959)

Sr. M. Gregory, OSU (1959-1967)

Sr. Ann Coss, OSU (1967-1973)

Sr. Joan of Arc, OSU (1973-1975)

Sr. M. Teresita, OSU (1975-1979)

Mrs. Mary Kasper (1979-1990)

Mr. Eric Wagner (1990-2011)

Mrs. Deborah O’Shea (2011-present)




First Baptism:

Jeffrey Bensch on December 29, 1957


First Marriage:

Richard Conley and Mary Joyce McCarthy on January 18, 1958


First Funeral:

Charles Schardt on January 3, 1958

First Communion Class: April 20, 1958

First Confirmation Class: May 3, 1959


Patron Saint:

St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, 387-461 (or 493), feast day March 17


Patrick, son of Calphurnius and Conchessa, was born at Kilpatrick near Dumbarton, Scotland in 387. His father belonged to a high-ranking Roman family, and was a decurio or senator in Gaul or Britain. His mother was related to Saint Martin of Tours. When he was sixteen, Irish marauders captured Patrick and sold him into slavery to Chieftain Milchu in Dalriada in present-day Ireland. For six years, he tended sheep, learned the Celtic language and the customs of the Druids. Patrick fervently prayed as the love and fear of God increased in him.

Patrick escaped and found his way back to Britain and to France where he was ordained a priest. He accompanied Saint Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, on his missionary work among the Morini and to Britain to counter Pelagianism for almost twenty years. Pope Saint Celestine I commissioned Patrick to Christianize the Irish, and so, Patrick and his companions traveled the Irish countryside preaching the good news of the Gospels, performing wondrous works, converting the people to Christianity, suffering captivity many times, praying and doing penance. St. Patrick continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches which he had founded all over Ireland. He comforted the people during their difficulties, strengthened them in faith and virtue, and appointed pastorsto continue his work among them. He consecrated 350 bishops. Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland on March17, 493 (or by some account in 461).


An Irish Blessing:


May the blessing of Light be on you light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire so that the stranger may come and warm himself at it and also a friend.


And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you like a candle set in two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come out of the storm.


And may the blessing of the Rain be on you – the soft sweet rain. May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up, and shed their sweetness on the air. And may the blessing of the Great Rains be on you, may they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean and leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven shines, and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the Earth be on you, the great round earth; may you ever have a kindly greeting, for them you pass as you are getting along the roads. May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it, tired at the end of the day, and may it rest easy over you when, at the last, you lay out under it; may it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly, and up, and off, and on its way to God.




4210 Heatherdowns Boulevard

Toledo Ohio 43614





Hanley, John and Scalia, Rosalia. A History of the Diocese of Toledo. Strasbourg, France: Editions du Signe, 2009.

Moan, Patrick Francis Cardinal. "St. Patrick." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911.

"Saint Patrick.” Catholic Online. Stevens, Lois, ed. St. Patrick of Heatherdowns: Celebrating Our First 40 Years, 1956-1996. Toledo, Ohio, 1996. Clerus Toletanus: A Directory of Clergy, Religious Communities and Parishes of the Diocese of Toledo in America, 1910 to 2011, vol. 1 no. 1