CELEBRATE — St. Patrick Parish is digging deep into its German roots to celebrate Oktoberfest on Oct. 13.
Herald Photo / Jenn Goad
CELEBRATE — St. Patrick Parish is digging deep into its German roots to celebrate Oktoberfest on Oct. 13. Herald Photo / Jenn Goad

Saint Patrick Parish is inviting the public out to its first annual Oktoberfest on Oct. 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The evening will be a mix of the old fall festival with a new, German twist. 

“Right now, the Oktoberfest is a big deal for our parish. We haven’t been in a place to hold larger festivals while we’ve been in transition. We haven’t had the bazaar in two years. That was something that was not as popular as it used to be. With Oktoberfest, it’s new, and it will establish what our parish community means to us, what it means for us to be part of Kokomo, and who we are as St. Patrick Parish,” said organizer Liz White.

What many don’t realize is that St. Patrick Parish may bear the name of the Patron Saint of Ireland, but its deep Kokomo roots have a sprinkling of German. About 37 years worth to be exact.

“Our parish is four years younger than our city. In 1859, we were founded. In 1873, we had a pastor who came from 1873 to 1910. He was pastor 37 years. His name was Reverend Father Francis Lordemann,” said Chuck Jansen, director of stewardship. “Father Lordemann was born and raised in Germany. He came to the United States and went to seminary. From there, when he was ordained, he was sent to St. Patrick and spent his priestly career here.”

Lordemann revolutionized the grounds on which St. Patrick Church sits. When he arrived in Kokomo, the church was nothing more than a simple wood-framed building. Lordemann oversaw the construction of a red brick building that, after a short time, the church outgrew. He spearheaded the construction of the building that currently sits at the intersection of North and Washington streets. Jansen said the cornerstone of the building was laid on Sept. 29, 1907, just more than 110 years ago.

Lordemann died before the current building was complete. The day of his funeral, the City of Kokomo practically was shut down for the man who served the community for nearly four decades. There was no mail delivery, banks, and businesses closed their doors, according to Jansen. The city eventually named a street in his honor.

From this rich German heritage rose the idea of an Oktoberfest celebration at the church. Rozzi’s Catering will provide a German meal for $15 for adults and $7 for children.

“Our German heritage is something we recognize, and we thought we should celebrate it this year at St. Patrick parish,” White said. “The festival will be similar to our fall festivals of the past with a German twist.”

There will be a bake sale and pretzel booth, as well as crafts and a book sale. Also on site will be a Volkswagen car show that will be held on Armstrong Street, right by the church.

“The more you know about your parish or city or community, the more excited you can be about it. St. Patrick is still very involved in the community. We’re not just here on Sundays. That is part of the community here,” Jansen said.

White said she’s looking forward to the event bringing the community together.

 “We’re excited because it’s a celebration of all of us coming together and being St. Patrick instead of being a face in a pew. Looking at it from that aspect, it’s new. It’s exciting, and we are celebrating who we are as a parish. Why not come together on a Friday night and celebrate? We are extending it to the community because we take great pride in being part of Kokomo and part of downtown. We care deeply about our connections to Kokomo. We want everyone to feel welcome and want to celebrate with us,” said White.