Mission of saint still found within Chesterton parish

St. Patrick was born in Britain circa 386 A.D. His name was Maewyn Succat. His father, Calphurnius, was a deacon from a Roman family of high social standing. His mother, Conchessa, was a close relative of the great patron St. Martin of Tours, and his grandfather, Pontius, was also a member of the clergy. 
Surprisingly, Maewyn was not raised with a strong emphasis on religion. Education was not particularly stressed during his childhood either. Later in life, this would become a source of embarrassment for him.  
When Maewyn was 16, he was captured by Irish pirates. They brought him to Ireland, where he was sold into slavery. There, his job was to tend sheep. Maewyn’s master, Milchu, was a high priest of Druidism, a pagan sect that held major religious influence over the country at the time.
Maewyn came to view his enslavement as God’s test of his faith. During six years of captivity, he became deeply devoted to Christianity through constant prayer. He saw the children of pagan Ireland reaching out their hands to him in a vision and grew increasingly determined to convert the Irish to Christianity.
Around 408 A.D., the idea of escaping enslavement came to Maewyn in a dream, in which a voice promised him he would find his way home to Britain. Eager to see the dream materialize, Maewyn convinced some sailors to let him board their ship.
After three days of sailing, he and the crew abandoned the vessel in France. They wandered, lost for 28 days, covering 200 miles of territory in the process with Maewyn ultimately reuniting with his family.
A free man once again, Maewyn went to Auxerre, France, where he studied and entered the priesthood under the guidance of the missionary St. Germanus. He was ordained a deacon around 418 A.D. He never lost sight of his vision to convert Ireland to Christianity. 
In 432 A.D., he was ordained a bishop, and soon, Pope Celestine I sent Patrick to Ireland to spread the gospel to non-believers and to support the small community of Christians already living there. He changed his name to Patrick, which stems from the Latin term for father figure.
Upon his arrival in Ireland, Patrick was initially met with resistance. He managed to spread Christian teachings far and wide, along with other missionaries, through preaching, writing and performing countless baptisms.
Recognizing the history of spiritual practices already in place, Patrick incorporated nature-oriented pagan rituals into church practices. It is believed that Patrick introduced the Celtic cross, which combined a native sun-worshipping symbology with that of the Christian cross.
Throughout his missionary work, Patrick supported church officials, created councils, founded monasteries and organized Ireland into dioceses.
St. Patrick died circa 461 A.D. in Saul, Ireland.
In 1816, Indiana became a state and the Potawatomi Indians lived in the area. Previous to the Potawatomi, the area was overseen by Chief Keokuk of the Sauk Indians. St. Patrick Catholic Community now occupies part of this territory in Chesterton. This was missionary territory and Father Jacque Marquette brought Christianity to the area, like St. Patrick to Ireland. 
St. Patrick church has its roots in 1857, when the railroad brought people of Irish descent to the Chesterton area. A church was built for these people and named St. Patrick. The Catholic community grew and a second church was built in 1876. St. Patrick church would become a central focus for many in the region. The third church was built in 1989 at the current location. 
The church survived the fire of 1902 in the town, and just a few years later, the St. Patrick community was instrumental in taking care of the victims of the tragic Woodville Train Wreck of Nov. 12, 1906. St. Patrick Cemetery became the resting place for many of the victims of the accident..  
Many fond memories of St. Patrick church are still alive around the Chesterton area. Over the years, the celebration of the patronal saint of the parish has been celebrated in various ways. Most recently, a harp and bagpipes accompanied the liturgical celebration of St. Patrick. Collections have been taken for the financial support of the parish mission in Peru. 
As this was missionary territory many years ago, St. Patrick Catholic Community continues to evangelize many people who are brought to the church. The school remains very instrumental in Porter County and both the church and school today continue the missionary work.

As the train whistles (which are many that blow through Chesterton) and for the early days of missionary work, I say a short prayer to St. Patrick to continue to guide the faithful of St. Patrick Church: ‘God our Father, you sent St. Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. By the help of his prayers, may all Christians proclaim your love to all men. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.’

Father Jon Plavcan is the pastor of St. Patrick in Chesterton and St. Ann of the Dunes in Beverly Shores. He currently serves as Vicar for Clergy for the Diocese of Gary.