St. Patrick Church has risen from the ashes

Hubbard parishioners celebrate reopening after 2021 fire

Staff photos / Bob Coupland ... The pews were filled Sunday afternoon at St. Patrick Church in Hubbard, where congregation members and guests gathered for the first Mass there since a fire in January 2021. A special rededication took place on St. Patrick’s Day.

HUBBARD — It has been three years since members of St. Patrick Church have been able to worship inside the sanctuary following a January 2021 fire.

But after patience and prayers, the church reopened its doors Sunday afternoon to a packed house of about 800 people for a special Mass and rededication of the remodeled church. St. Patrick’s Day was chosen on purpose, reflecting the church’s patron saint.

The Rev. Michael Swierz, pastor, said, “This is a special day for the reopening of the doors for our beloved church.

“We thank the hard work of so many who have made this possible. We thank God for guiding us these past three years,” he said.

Swierz said he remembers the cold night on Jan. 18, 2021, when the church caught on fire.

“I remember people standing across the street and in the parking lot crying as we watched the smoke pouring out of the building. The first responders and firefighters came and went into the building. We all watched and knew we were in trouble. We wondered what would happen next,” Swierz said.

He said Bishop David Bonnar, who had been officially installed as the new bishop for the Diocese of Youngstown only a few days before, came to the church in Hubbard.

“He was here to be with us. He and so many others helped us make it through this difficult time for our parish,” Swierz said.

Swierz said the fire was a blow not only to the church, but the entire community.

He thanked Hubbard city and school officials, as well as other communities, for their support.

He said plans soon began to rebuild the church.

“Our future is now filled with hope,” Swierz said.

Bonnar celebrated Sunday’s special Mass, noting that while the members of the church may have been displaced for three years, they rose above the ashes.

“The over three-year fast from praying in this sacred space is over. The long wait and sense of being displaced has come to an end. Finally this wonderful faith community of St Patrick Parish returns home to this holy place of grace to rise from the ashes. With the entire diocese, we join you in welcoming this long-awaited moment,” Bonnar said.

He said people on Sunday were able to do something that they could not do for three years — cross the threshold and enter the church. A special area allowed the firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians — many of whom responded to the fire, to sit. “The fact that we can celebrate this moment on the parish’s patronal feast day of St. Patrick makes this moment extra special. This is one St Patrick’s Day that few of us will forget,” Bonnar said.

He brought with him a special relic of St. Patrick that was borrowed from the Diocese of Cleveland. The relic was carried by a deacon during the entrance procession and set in a place

of honor during the Mass.

Bonnar said the suffering of being displaced for over three years “has taught the importance of patience, trust and hope in the Christian life.”

Bonnar officially blessed the sanctuary with holy water.

The 25-member adult choir was singing for the first time inside the church again and was joined by eight children’s choir members.


People entering the church sanctuary were smiling as they saw the familiar room they once worshiped in for years.

“This is monumental. We have all waited for so long to be back here. This day is such a special celebration. It’s a glorious celebration for our whole community,” said Karen Bartos of Hubbard.

John Bartos of Hubbard said it is great to be able to congregate in the church together again.

“It was a long three years,” he said..

Patti Polon of Hubbard said she did not mind having to worship in the parish center, which was used while work was being done on the church

“It is nice to be back in our original place. We look forward to being back home again here,” she said.

Phil Walsh of Hubbard said the fire brought parishioners closer.

“There is a core group of people who got to know each other more and are glad to be back here,” he said.

Tony Kavalesky of Hubbard said people were used to the temporary location but are excited to be back here.

“We were all together there for a reason and now are back together here,” he said.


A spokesperson for St. Patrick Church said much was rebuilt or replaced:

● The entire building was rebuilt from floor to roof.

● The sanctuary floor was rebuilt.

● The sanctuary back wall was rebuilt, all electrical wiring had to be pulled and replaced, and the HVAC system had to be brought up to code and replaced.

● The entire kitchen had to be rebuilt and brought up to code.

● Marble on floors and walls had to be replaced.

● Pews, altar, baptismal font and ambo all replaced or repaired.

● A new metal roof as well as insulation and the church’s wooden ceiling were all

replaced. All wooden doors were replaced and a metal one was installed at the main entrance.

● Elevator had to be replaced.

● The new Steinway piano and pipe organ had to be cleaned and rebuilt.

The church parking lot was replaced.

Have an interesting story? Email Bob Coupland at bcoupland@tribtoday.com.


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