OUR CHURCH HISTORY
Over 180 Years of Faith, Family, and Community Service
Earliest records of a Roman Catholic community in the Brighton area date back to 1832. Those were really primitive times; worldly goods were scarce and hard work was plentiful. According to available documents and letters from early immigrants, there were no resident priest, only missionaries. A priest made a circuit of settlements about every 3 or 4 months. A few years later a priest from Ann Arbor came to Brighton about once a month to hold services and to instruct the children in catechism. This was done in their homes for there was no church building yet.
In 1838, the McNamee family donated the land for a church and cemetery for the tiny but vigorous Irish community. This was one of the first Catholic Churches west of Detroit. For many years the priest walked the considerable distance covering his Mission area, which included Oceola, Deerfield and Beneker Hill, as well as Brighton. Eventually, his means permitted him to purchase a horse and saddle, affording him a much more comfortable means of travel. The log church built behind this cemetery has been gone nearly 150 years. But that church and this quaint cemetery mark the scene of the birth of what would become St. Patrick Catholic Church in Brighton: Livingston County's oldest faith community.
The increase in parishioners was so great that in 1862 it became necessary to have more room for services. A vacant house was secured, but this still was not sufficient. Therefore, one acre of ground was purchased as a site for a new church. In 1864 the first Catholic Church was built in Brighton - St. Patricks. The altar in this original church was said to be the most beautiful in the Detroit Diocese.
In 1877 the church was remodeled and ornamented with stained glass windows. By 1879 records showed there was 70 families.
It was during 1912 that the high steeple, housing the bell, was erected. It was a symbol of the growth of their faith in a new land. It has been said the Protestants and Catholics alike timed their day to the beautiful tomes of St. Patrick’s bell. Sadly, though, due to a severe wind and thunderstorm in 1917, the high steeple and bell were brought crashing to the ground. When the steeple was rebuilt, it was made much lower.
By 1936 the church was again enlarged to accommodate the ever-growing congregation. The Catholic population increased to such an extent in Michigan that it became necessary to create a new Diocese.
In 1937 the Diocese of Lansing was formed with the new boundaries including Brighton. Dominican Sisters came to St. Patrick in 1942. Classes were held in a one room school for about two years. The old Union High School was renovated and opened as St. Patrick School in September 1947. In 1951 ground was broken for the original school building.
Time marched on and Brighton continued to grow. In May 1962 St. Patrick built a new church and rectory, now the parish offices, attached to the church. A new convent was constructed near the school building in 1963. By 1978 St. Patrick Parish numbered 1500 families.
In 1980-81 the eight grade school was expanded to provide a much-needed library, an art and music room, and a classroom for a teacher who would give support and assistance to children who needed extra help with language arts. At the same time the activities center which the gymnasium and kitchen were erected.
In 1979 the Church of the Holy Spirit in Hamburg was founded in order to meet the needs of a fast growing Catholic population in the area. By 1981 Livingston County was referred to as one of the fastest growing counties in Michigan. Growth in Brighton continued and while Holy Spirit Parish helped alleviate the demands for much needed ministry to Catholics, by 1990 there were 3024 families/households in our parish. At this time an expansion and renovation of the church took place and the church was enlarged to seat 300 more people for a total of 1000. Several additional meeting spaces were also built to accommodate the growing needs for religious education and meetings. The whole church and McCann Hall were completely renovated and there was a celebration of the Dedication of the Church and Altar on September 22, 1991.
In 1993 St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brighton was founded. This further helped the Catholic population in our area but the county and Brighton continue to grow. The Church was again renovated and updated in 1999. New carpet, paint, new Stations of the Cross and new altar furniture was fashioned at this time. The Eucharistic Chapel was expanded and made more visible and accessible. St. Patrick Church installed automatic doors to accommodate those with special needs. Today, we serve approximately 3800 households. In 2002, we await the completion of a new residence for our priests.
Many changes have come to pass since the first missionaries came to this area. St. Patrick continues to serve the needs of the Brighton area in many ways. We truly stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Our faith, like “living stones, builds us into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
Pastors of St. Patrick Church
Rev. Thomas Morrissey 1832-1857
Rev. Patrick O’Kelly 1843-1856
Rev. Thomas Cullen 1857-1858
Rev. Alloysius Lambert
Rev. Francis X Pourett 1859-1870
Rev. Thomas Rafter 1870-1872
Rev. James Wheeler 1876-1877
Rev. J.G. Dougherty 1877-1886
Rev. James Garry 1886-1891
Rev. Hennessey 1891-1912
Rev. Steven Wittleff 1912-1920
Rev. Ernest Depuydt 1920-1927
Rev. Depew 1927-1929
Rev. McCarthy 1929-1930
Rev. William Bath 1930-1936
Rev. Maurice Kissane 1936-1949
Rev. J. Leo McCann 1949-1971
Rev. Raymond Klauke 1971-1977
Rev. Michael D. Murphy 1977-1985
Rev. Thomas W. Thompson 1985-1999
Rev. Dan J. McKean 1999-2006
Rev. Karl L. Pung 2006-2017
Rev. Mathias Thelen 2017-Present
Parochial Vicars at St. Patrick Church
Rev. Daniel F. Wonderlich 1992-1994
Rev. Robert L. Irish 1994-1995
Rev. Keith Horstman 1995-1998
Rev. Michael J. Williams 1998-1999
Rev. Robert J. Pienta 1999-2001
Rev. Patrick Ike Agunwa 2001-2003
Rev. Jeffrey Njus 2003-2005
Rev. Jeff Poll 2005-2009
Rev. Mark J. Rutherford 2009-2012
Rev. James Mangan 2012-2014
Rev. Vincent Richardson 2014-2017
Rev. Joseph Campbell 2017-Present
Rev. Justin Hermes 1930-1936
Rev. Brendan K. Ledwedge 1962-1965
Rev. James R. Sullivan 1965-1968
Rev. Robert J. Arend 1968-1969
Rev. Thomas McCloskey 1969-1969
Rev. Gerald J. Schneider 1969-1970
Rev. Michael D. Murphy 1971-1973
Rev. Carl Simon 1972-1972
Rev. Roger J. Smith 1973-1974
Rev. Gary McGinnis 1973-1976
Rev. Robert H. McGraw 1976-1979
Rev. William Thomas 1978-1978
Rev. Robert R. Gerl 1978-1978
Rev. Timothy M. Crowley 1979-1980
Rev. Gerald J. Ploof 1979-1981
Rev. Mark Inglot 1981-1983
Rev. Joseph Martinus 1981-1983
Rev. William J. Stevenson 1983-1985
Rev. Joseph R. Peariso 1986-1987
Rev. Stephen F. Thomsen 1986-1987
Rev. Dan J. McKean 1987-1992
Rev. Timothy D. Krzyzaniak 1990-1991
Rev. Benjamin Werner 1991-1992