St. Patrick’s Parish was officially established on January 6, 1953 by the authority of Bishop Ralph Hubert Dignan, Bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. He appointed Father Philip Theriault as Pastor and charged him with the task of building a Catholic community and a place where people of the Lockerby area of Sudbury could meet for worship and community life.
A small group of Catholics first gathered on Sunday mornings to celebrate Mass in the hall of St. Theresa School – Sunday July 5th, 1953. This small group of dedicated people realized that the south end was growing and so decided to purchase land to construct a church building. With the financial generosity of Monsignor Humphrey and the parishioners of Christ the King Parish, the hard work and determination of the St. Patrick’s Men’s Club, the Catholic Women’s League and eager parishioners, funds were raised through raffles, dinners, teas and bingos. Much of the physical labour of pouring the original foundation and carrying the bricks from the C.P.R. yards was performed by the parishioners.
The first church building was blessed at its official opening on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1954. The original building faced Walford Rd. and was set on the foundation of the present upper hall. In 1960, the new rectory was built to house the pastor and his associates. On October 20, 1968 a new church addition was blessed by Bishop A. Carter and the building was given the shape of the cross with the head of the cross facing west. The distinctive roof line is reminiscent of a mine shaft echoing the area of Sudbury. In 1981 the lower hall was upgraded from the original concrete basement and the front office area was added to the existing rectory. In 1991 more property was purchased to add parking at the east side of the building. In 2006-2007 funds were raised to make the building accessible to all with a new elevator lift to the hall and church levels.
Fr. Philip Theriault (1953-1979) was the first of five dedicated pastors who have generously ministered to the people of St. Patrick’s Parish including Fr. Don McMillan (1979-1988), Fr. Brian Dixon (1988-1995), Fr. Allan McMillan (1995-2000), and our current pastor Fr. James Hutton since 2000. St. Patrick’s has grown to be one of the largest English parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and presently serves approximately 1, 462 registered families in addition to many other families living within the boundaries south of York St.
The parish provided local representation on a Board to establish a management team to make the building of a geared-to-income apartment building possible in the area. This was done in conjunction with Sudbury Housing in 1992 to meet the need of having more geared-to-income accommodations in the area. This was under the leadership of Fr. Brian Dixon.
The parish is associated with Catholic Schools in the area (formerly St. Theresa, St. Christopher and Corpus Cristi School). In 2013 these schools were amalgamated under the name of Holy Cross which is located on the campus of St. Benedict High School (Junior & Senior). Grades junior kindergarten to grade 12 are now located on one site and accommodate approximately 1, 100 students.
St. Patrick’s, under the leadership of Fr. Don McMillan and Sister Patricia Kennedy, was also instrumental in establishing the Inner City Home in 1988. This service to the poor of the inner city continues this day through financial contributions under the leadership of Mary Ali, the of board of directors and with the assistance of many volunteers. Under the leadership of Fr. Alan McMillan electrical upgrades were undertaken to improve lighting within the church and rectory in 1999. With the help of the CWL and many volunteers a major renovation of the parish hall kitchen was done in 2003. In 2007-2008 a major renovation and construction project was done to improve the entrance of the church. An elevator/lift was installed to accommodate a growing number of parishioners with mobility issues. Accessible washrooms were added to both levels. This project was done in memory of Fr. Theriault and pioneers of the parish and was led by Fr. James Hutton and a dedicated committee under the Chair, Brian Vendramin.
Almost sixty years later, this parish continues to be a thriving faith community with more than 1460 registered families. In addition to the large number of parishioners, it also encompasses a large physical area, making it one of the largest geographical parishes in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Father James Hutton is the current pastor (since 2000). The people of St. Patrick’s are very active and have a committed Christian presence in the city of Sudbury and the Diocese. Their objectives are clearly outline in their spirited Mission Statement:
We are called by God to continue the mission of Jesus, through vibrant worship, radical witness and committed service.
With the numerous active ministries in the parish, we attempt to bring the words of our founding pastor, Fr. Theriault, to life today: “I hope that we will never judge our achievements in terms of monies spent and raised, or building, or programs or organizations. All of these are important, but they have but one single purpose… to make Jesus alive and real in our personal lives and in our community life.”