St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
4351 Parnell Avenue NE
Grattan Township, Kent County, Michigan

1836 – Treaty of Washington opens Native American land north of the Grand River in western Michigan to settlement, and Irish immigrants move into the area now known as Parnell.

1844 – The Rev. Andrew Viszosky, priest from the Catholic mission in Grand Rapids, makes regular visits to Parnell to administer the sacraments for the 25-35 Irish families in the area.

1844 – Viszosky and 28 settlers make pledges between $1 and $8 to "the Comitee of the Catholick congregation of the town of Vergines for the publick purpose" of building a log church on four acres donated by Richard Giles on the site of the current parish cemetery. The church was the fourth church in the parish, and is now the second-oldest parish in the Grand Rapids Diocese.

1859 – With the community growing to more than 1,000 people, partly as a result of famine in Ireland, a new church is built for about $8,000 on the site of the current church parking lot. Parishioners do not occupy the new church until 1863, after a dispute with the contractor is resolved.

1868 – The church is destroyed by a fire that, legend says, was started by a spark from the pipe of the priest’s brother.

1871 – A third church building is finished for about $12,000 on the site of the existing church.

1876 – St. Patrick parishioners make complaints that the Rev. Bernard Quinn is teaching heresies including: martin Luther was right; the High Mass is theater; and people should not invoke the prayers of the Blessed Virgin. A letter from the bishop of Detroit refers to Quinn as a "lunatic" for his charges that priests and bishops are "corrupt", nuns are "whores" and "if fathers and mothers knew about the confessional and what (Quinn) does, they would keep their daughters at home." Quinn was suspended, and the church and rectory were burned the next day (believed to be the work of an arsonist).

1878 – Parishioners begin worshipping in their current church, built to the same specifications as the previous building.

2005 – Repairing the slate on the 128-year-old church steeple. There are about 4,800 black slate shingles covering the wooden spire. Amongst them are dozens of green slate shingles depicting symbols, such as a clover cross, a letter of the Greek alphabet which represents Jesus Christ. Workers are putting many hours into the removal and replacement of the original 1877 roof of the steeple. Five semi-loads of material were required to erect a scaffolding in order to work on the steeple.

Rev. Rock Badgerow is the current priest


Created: 22 November 2007
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/churches/catholic/stpatsparnell/history2.html