Growing in God's Love as an Open, Caring Community

St. Patrick’s 25th Anniversary Poem

Twenty-five  years ago, on the banks of the river,
the Lord our God, our Eternal Giver, reached out – and showed us the way.
”Come forth, all ye who would worship together;
Congregate, make music, and pray.”

The people talked, and the Spirit led them, and they gathered in His Name.
Two or three, then half a dozen; ’til “a congregation” they could claim.
They finally met at the house of Jo Christmas, but needed a place “more ethereal”.
They searched all around, all o’er Brewer town, ending up at Piper’s Funereal.
That home served them well, and as the group grew, they planned for more yet to come.

They needed a place that would hold all those souls, like the Brewer Audi-to-rium.
As the throng swelled, the masses went well, but they needed space more “inspirational”,
so again they went out, and scoped ‘round the town, ending up at the Church Congregational.
They knew how to pray, the preacher could preach, and most could carry a tune.
But something was lacking:  A real home and a time – not Saturday afternoon!

MEANWHILE, IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF PORTLAND, BREWER WAS IN FOR A CHANGE:

The “temporary church” of Joseph the Saint, on North Main at Holy-oke,
was just waaay too small, in its World-War-I style, and to them was becoming a joke.
But who’d buy such a building, on not-too-much land?  Who’d have “not much to lose”?
An ad-hoc band of ‘piscopali-ans, with an offer they couldn’t refuse?
A “match made in heaven”, it turned out to be.  The Romans could build farther north!
And the group called “St. Patricks” would now have a home –
an anchor from which to go forth.

‘Twarn’t much to look at – basic “Quonset” design, with peaked roof to shed the snow –
a “third of a cellar”, the rest was on piers; with the “loo” off the back stairs, below.
Those three little rooms at the back of the hall – if only those walls could talk!
But confessionals-turned-closets held many a broom, as well as those buckets and mops.
For lack of a kitchen, a counter on wheels; and a stove and a sink in the rear;
fol-ding tables and moveable pews came together from points, far and near.
In the church proper was a collection of goods, our sources ne’er seemed to falter.
From Canterbury House, though “way Danish Modern”, came our crucifix and our altar.

But Saint Pat’s is more than its physical plant, no matter how humbly beginning.
Without our people, it’s just “mortar and stick”.
Our people are what makes us ”winning”.

Our clergy? Ralph Durgin, Tom Hal-kett, and Sam,
and Mark Hall was here temporarily,
while we searched for and sought that “Rector from Heaven”,
or, in our case, who’d serve God “Vicariously”.

Search we did; interviewed and denied – in the end there was nothing could block us –
We were brought back  – put on course once again  –
when “Thank God, we found Ian Backus”!

It was during his tenure it began to appear,
that our building would no longer hold us.
We could cram, we could move, we could go into debt;
“Dig a cellar”, some wise sage once told us!
So using the land from the old nursing home,
the one where the middle part sagged,”
a cellar was dug and a foundation poured,
and the church to its new spot was dragged,
With a GMC pickup and some Ivory™ soap,
and with “Catholic Joe Lynch” at the wheel.
We now had “a problem” with which we could cope,
Like a “new parish” we actually did feel!

Entrenched though he was, in traditional ways, Ian led us “through the vale”.
He gave up his cigs, became American, and served with clergy – female!
The money came in, the church “corporal” got strong – the Diocese had us “on vector”
and as we progressed from “Mission” to Parish”, our Vicar was declared our Rector.
A funny thing about clergy – even they do retire, no matter how many years “at the altar” –

Ian did, too, but he left us “in shape”, and he knew we’d not stumble or falter!
An “interim” was needed, one with wisdom and grace, one “cunning as though a fox” –
…one who’d know what to do, and where not to go, and along came Rev’Canon Clyde Cox.
Fresh from Saint John’s, and looking to lead, Clyde led down the path; through the door.
While the search went its way, and interviews took place, ‘til God gave us the Rev’d Kris Orr.

An enigma she was –she was “from away” – and her degree was  (for God’s sake) Geology!
But she had “je ne sais quoi”, an intangible trait, and an obvious sense of theology!
She’s great with a sermon (if a little “low church”); she’s a leader who’s good with her flocks –
She’s not got a “twang”, and she doesn’t say “Y’all”,
and she’s accustomed to dealing with rocks!

But enough of the leaders! Though they help us to pray,
there are those who’ve helped us to sing.
Some better than others, some “grating our teeth”; music’s a wonderful thing.
“Wonderful”, that is, when with grace and with style; when played with elán and with clarity.
Marion Prescott, our first organist, played organ as “physical therapy”.
Thelma Love and Becky Jordan, among several others,
have taken their turns ‘mongst the strongest;
but Brian MacFarland, through thick and through thin
(and with grace) has been here the longest!

And the people!  Oh, yes, the people, my friends, are what binds this body together.
Faces sans names, and th’other way ‘round, those names can go on forever!
Let’s “run” a few:  Some are still here, and some have “gone on before us”.
Some were well known, and some were obscure, while some sing “the heavenly chorus”:
Jo Christmas of course, our “most senior gal”, and Emma, who just passed away.
The Pipers and Connie, and Ina and Fryes, were here in the earlier days.
Marge is still here – with Bill’s spirit strong – and Trotts, Johns, Jean Cowie and Polks.
Nana Foster, and Laskeys, and Fitzgeralds and Milletts,
“multitudes of heavenly folks”.
There’s the Crockers, the Lynches, the Dressers, the Millers;
Madeline Scripture, and the “McIlroys – Four”;
Marie and Ardena, and Susan Kirkpatrick, the Allens and a few dozen more!
The Smiths and the Rands, and the Smarts and the Stuarts,
and don’t forget Lillian Rivers; the Parkers, and Barbara, Fern Peddy, the Wrights –
the magnitude gives me the shivers!
Currier, Buckingham, Royal, and Quick.
Lougee, Botz, Pepin, and Buck.
The Schaaps, the Bakers, the Cowans and Browns;
and Baldwin and Bouchard, for luck.
There’s Wil Thorp, the Perrys, the Millars, the Careys,
Tomlinsons, and the Parés,
Gravelle, Baldwin, and Grant;
the Chambers and Curtises, the Copelands, and Grays –
the list could cause one to pant!
Forget not the Cadys – (where would we be without Shamrocks period-ically?) –
The Grindels, the Kemps, and Les Henderson,
this list can go on “idiotically”:
Sanchez and Dziedzic, Merciér, Knox;
Hardwick and Benson and Burson;
and even though it doesn’t quite rhyme,
Bishops Wolfe, Chalfant, and Knudsen.
There’s the Jordans, the Mathesons, Brother Rex and the Morses,
Harburgers and the Orrs of Old Town,
Rick and Ramona, Pat Gero and Helene…
(This list never seems to “run down”!)
The Wortmans, the Days, Saviellos, and Buglers,
and the Brothers St. E-lizabeethan.
‘Twas on purpose I waited to mention the names
of the Alquists, the Haydens, and Gleasons.
Lest I should recite this and run out of time –
it’s not that I’m in a big hurry –
I must make mention of McKenzie and Abby –
our “communicants” who are both pretty furry.

And with that I say “I’m sorry to those who are here,
but whose names you’ve not heard”.
“Inclusivity’s” an honorable, noble concept,
but this poem’s just not “the last word”.
I know in my heart,
I fear and I dread,
that I’ve left someone out acci-dentally.
I tried to work everyone in that I could,
a formidable task, monu-mentally.

Even before our expansion took place,
we opened our door to community,
to serve the area from which we were drawn
to encourage a strong sense of unity.
Hundreds have found us over the years,
as the home of the Brewer Food Cupboard.
We’ve served as meeting place for dozens of groups,
and as a “watering hole” for dog lovers;
as well as a rest-stop for charity walkers,
and as a central location Diocesan,
for public suppers and church-only affairs,
and a Christmas Fair that’s evolved to “colossian”.

The events and the memories of twenty five years
are colorful, bright, and exciting.
There’re too many to mention in a work such as this;
too many for reading and writing.

Some do stand out more than others, methinks –
Christmas fairs and many church dinners;
pageants and vigils and weddings and such,
our church family makes us each  winners!
There were “trips on the dark side”,
buried deep in our past;
like youth groups who talked to the cops,
and “phantom trucks” in our new parking lot,
and “hymnals that went for a walk”.

Twenty five years – a long time for some.
A “flash in the pan” for a few.
One quarter of a hundred years –
an “eternity” through which one just flew.
We mark as a “milestone” this twenty five years.
Our hopes are that much more will ensue.
One basic wish, as we leave here today,
is for God to be truly with you.

And on whatever road that life leads you down,
and with whatever blessings you’re given,
if we don’t see you here, next Sunday for prayer,
we’ll expect a reunion in Heaven!

St. Patrick's Episcopal Church - Brewer, Maine | A member of The Episcopal Diocese of Maine, The Episcopal Church, and the Worldwide Anglican Communion