St. Bridget of Ireland established as parish

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With a mid-day tweet May 28, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge announced the creation of the Arlington Diocese’s newest parish — St. Bridget of Ireland in Berryville.

“Congratulations and God’s blessings to Saint Bridget Catholic Church in Berryville, our Diocese’s newest parish,” the tweet read. A minute later, a second tweet read, “Congratulations and God’s blessings to Father Stanley Krempa whom I have appointed first pastor of Saint Bridget Church in Berryville.”

The bishop’s announcement, made after consulting with the Diocesan Presbyteral Council, will create the 70th diocesan parish July 12.

Since its establishment in 1999, St. Bridget has been a mission of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Winchester.

“I thank all those who have given their time, talent and treasure to build up the Catholic community in Berryville over the years,” Bishop Burbidge said. “I especially thank Father Stan Krempa, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester, for his attentive ministry to the mission of St. Bridget of Ireland over the past 16 years.”

St. Bridget of Ireland Church was dedicated May 25, 2002, by Bishop Paul S. Loverde. It was the first Catholic church in Clarke County.

At the dedication ceremony, Bishop Loverde blessed the chapel cornerstone, then went indoors for the “handing over of the building” from Barbara White, chapel building committee chairwoman; Chet Hobert, the oldest living member of the Berryville mission at that time; and Carl Hales, longtime chapel supporter.

Prior to the dedication of the church, Hobert, who moved to Clarke County in the 1920s, arranged to have Catholic Mass celebrated at the Berryville Opera House and Grace Episcopal Church. Known as the “father of the St. Bridget Catholic community,” Hobert died Aug. 19, 2004, at the age of 100.

“This community of faith in Berryville is truly a visible expression of the church … part of God’s family … in this church building dedicated to St. Bridget of Ireland,” Bishop Loverde said in his homily in 2002.

The chapel building fund began as a legacy of Father Paul Stragisher, former pastor of Sacred Heart Church, and continued through subsequent pastors Father Daniel Spychala, Father John Kelly and Father Krempa.

All the priests who served St. Bridget’s were invited to the dedication ceremony, along with the priests of the deanery and the cloistered Trappist monks of Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville. Father Robert Barnes, former abbot, joined Bishop Loverde at the altar.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017