Founded in 1961, the original church was a remodeled wood frame house near downtown Long Beach, which was completely destroyed by Hurricane Camille in 1969. After Harold Toop pulled a delicate alabaster statuette of the Blessed Virgin unscathed from the mud and wreckage of the sanctuary, the congregation vowed to rebuild the church. Less than a week later a wedding was held on the steps of the church which were the only recognizable structure left.
The church was rebuilt as a masonry structure on the same site in 1970 and remained there until the land was sold in 1989. The new facilities were built approximately one mile west of downtown Long Beach on U.S. Highway 90 and was dedicated on September 15, 1991. The statuette of the Blessed Virgin was displayed in a continuously illuminated niche behind the alter as a symbol of the church’s physical and spiritual perseverance.
St. Patrick’s main building was a quaint wooden structure nestled under live oaks at the south end of seven acres of property on the Mississippi Sound. Its cruciform sanctuary had sky blue walls and a vaulted ceiling. Its numerous windows offered soft natural lighting and glimpses of the Mississippi Sound and the surrounding landscape.
In 1998 an outdoor chapel was dedicated in a shady wooded setting just north of a small stream that separated the main building complex from the rest of the church’s property. The outdoor chapel was used for special services and was an open area available to anyone for prayer and quiet self reflection. The church’s office was located in an addition to the main building at 452 West Beach Blvd. The Bryan Youth Cottage and outreach youth building were located at 603 Magnolia Street at the north end of the church’s property adjacent to the St. Patrick’s City Park.
On August 29, 2005, our facilities on U.S. Highway 90 were one of six Mississippi Episcopal church facilities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The storm left between 1/3 and 1/2 of the families in our congregation without homes. The congregation gathered the Sunday after the storm at Grace Lutheran Church in Long Beach for Holy Eucharist.
The Altar Guild saved the statue of the Virgin Mary which survived Hurricane Camille, as well as altar linens and vessels. The children’s altar used during the 9 AM service was found on surrounding property as was the top to the altar. Much of the outdoor chapel survived the storm. Many of the beautiful live oaks that surrounded the church survived the storm.
In the fall of 2006, the vestry made the decision to relocate St. Patrick’s to safer and higher ground. With much prayer and planning, we began the process of rebuilding on new property at the intersection of Klondyke and Cleveland Avenue. In the meantime, St. Patrick’s used office and meeting space at Camp Coast Care in Long Beach. Our EYC is meeting in conjunction with St. Peter’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, St. Thomas (Diamondhead), and Christ Church (Bay St. Louis).
Overwhelming and humbling support of our church, our parishioners, and our community has come from sister churches and individuals throughout the U.S. and our Diocese. In addition, we are deeply grateful to Camp Coast Care of the Lutheran Episcopal Services in MS, Coast Episcopal School, Grace Lutheran, and First United Methodist of Long Beach who have graciously offered “room in the inn” to us since the storm.
Our first service in the new building, 310 North Cleveland Ave., was Pentacost Sunday, May 21, 2009. The new facilities include All Saints Hall, a large multipurpose hall that serve both as parish hall (which it will eventually become) and as worship space. Nearby is a large kitchen. Across the breezeway is the office and education wing with the church office, priest’s office, deacon’s office, workroom, choir/vesting room, nursery, two “small” classrooms and the Florida Room. The Florida Room is named in thanskgiving fro the Diocese of Florida and the support they gave us after Katrina. This large mulitpurpose room is used by our junior and senior EYC. The formal dedication service, with both the Bishop of Mississippi and the Bishop of Florida, was held on August 15, 2009.
The Reverend Betsy Baumgarten became our current Priest-In-Charge in January, 2013, and served with us until October, 2016. After almost a year of coordinating supply priests for Sunday services, the Rev Barbara Hunter, ELCA, became our regular supply clergy thanks in large art to the formal common ministry between the Luthern and Episcopal denominations. Pastor Barb served until April 29, 2018.
May 6, 2018, was the first service with the Rev. Jane Bearden as our Interim Rector.