In 1873, the Most Reverend William G. McCloskey established St. Bridget’s parish, originally dedicated to St. Bridget of Sweden, for the residents of an area called “the hill.” Most of these people were of Irish birth or descent and in 1887, the spelling and patroness was changed to St. Brigid of Ireland.
The first pastor, Rev. James Ryan, served the first Mass on October 19, 1873, was determined to see the parish grow and thrive. Through the hard work and generosity of St. Brigid parishioners, the parish did grow and was soon too large for the small frame structure of the original church located on the east side Baxter Avenue between Payne and Roger Streets. Soon a new brick church, which included classrooms on the second level was dedicated in 1890. An article in The Catholic Advocate stated that “a goodly sum was contributed in church by those who attended.”
It was the dedication and generosity of the people of St. Brigid, along with the foresight of several more pastors that made still a third church, plus a separate school and a convent possible in 1912.
Through their time, talent and treasure the people of St. Brigid have seen their parish thrive through good times and bad. Some of the present members are descendants of original members of the parish. The church was renovated in 1968 and 1987. Known for its excellent acoustics, St. Brigid has hosted many concerts in recent years.
Under the leadership of Rev. Donald R. Goetz in 1994, St. Brigid joined St. James, in a two-parish cluster. This relationship has only strengthened the St. Brigid parish community, as they unite with St. James in parish outreach, school support, and regular joint meetings of the Parish Councils of both parishes. The two parishes collaborate on several outreach programs, including the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Highlands Community Ministries and Habitat for Humanity.
In June of 2012, Rev. Anthony Olges became the pastor to St. Brigid and St.James. In June of 2014, Fr. Tony retired and our new pastor, Rev. Gary Padgett, was welcomed into our communities.
Newcomers who join the parish, as well as visitors are struck by the unique beauty of the church and by the friendliness and acceptance of the people who make up the parish community.
Even though the current membership of St. Brigid is made up of people from many different areas (including out of state), the same determination, dedication and generosity that existed more than 130 years ago still prevails.