St. Christopher Church on Peaks Island Celebrating Centennial with Rejoicing and Renovations
PEAKS ISLAND---For 100 years, St. Christopher Church on Peaks Island has been not only the center of Catholic life on the island, but a source of service, community, and inspiration for the 1,000 year-round residents. It is an institution of faith and fellowship that is being celebrated in 2023 on the occasion of its centennial.
“Since 1923, St. Christopher Church has brought hundreds of locals and visitors together for Mass, prayer services, faith study groups, and a large variety of community building and service events,” said Mark Clement, a member of the centennial committee.
The St. Christopher community also hosts a blessing of the fleet in the spring, an annual summer fair, a blessing of the animals and pumpkin carving in the fall, and wassailing during the Christmas season. Residents and visitors are all encouraged to participate in the activities and events. In partnership with the Peaks Island Health Center, the parish serves as a storage site for medical equipment loaned to islanders recovering from illness and surgery and also co-sponsors the Peaks Island Food Pantry with the Brackett Church.
“Sunday Mass continues to be offered all year in this beautiful church, and it’s a continual source of support and encouragement for Catholics and non-Catholics,” said Fr. Seamus Griesbach, pastor of St. Christopher along with the other Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes. “We welcome the public and organizations like the American Legion and Alcoholics Anonymous to use the parish hall for a variety of activities at no cost, and it is also able to serve as a warming center during power outages thanks to the recent addition of a generator. Actions speak louder than words.”
In celebration of 100 years of life and ministry on Peaks Island, the St. Christopher centennial is being marked and commemorated in a number of ways with joyful reverence and an eye to the future.
A series of beautification and restoration projects (pictures below) have been completed and are ongoing at the church and facilities.
“The renovations at St. Christopher have been quite extensive,” said Fr. Griesbach. “By the end of the spring, the following work will have been accomplished: installation of pavers for the front entry and side walkway, including many engraved pavers donated by parishioners and others in celebration of our centennial; rewiring of the entire church back to the electrical panel with new track lighting and period fixtures, outlets, and switches; removal of asbestos floor tiles from sacristy, work room and entry areas; removal of stained and worn carpeting and installation of new red oak hardwood flooring in the sanctuary; reconfiguration, cleaning, and reinstallation of all pews; restoration of the stained glass window above the sanctuary with the installation of new storm windows to ensure its protection against the elements; replacement of rotten and beat up skirting around the perimeter of the church building, along with drainage improvements; shoring up and painting of the handicap ramp and painting of the front steps; and cleaning and painting throughout the interior of the church building.”
The projects have generated great excitement on the island as well as a willingness to help the cause. A Centennial Celebration is being planned for Sunday, July 23, that will feature a Mass with Bishop Deeley, a dinner and reception, and presentations on the rich history of the church.
“The festivities begin with the 3 p.m. Mass followed by a reception and catered dinner at the Lions Club at Greenwood Garden,” said Clement. “There will be historical displays, a written history of the church, music, and more. It’s an event that will bring the Peaks Island and Portland communities together to celebrate these 100 years.”
Local businesses, organizations, and individuals around Greater Portland have become sponsors by purchasing advertisements in a souvenir program through generous donations, others have purchased pavers with the names of friends and loved ones for the outer church area as Fr. Griesbach described, and others have made direct donations to the repairs and restoration. To learn more about any of the options or how you can help, visit www.StChris100.com.
“For 100 years, the St. Christopher community has offered residents and guests with an opportunity to live out their responsibility to witness to Christ’s presence in our world,” said Bishop Deeley. “For a century, hundreds of dedicated and talented parishioners, aided by many priests, have helped build and preserve a place where everyone can draw spiritual strength while serving God, each other, and the community. St. Christopher is a holy space where people are formed for the world and changed by the presence of Jesus, a mission of making the Gospel known that is deserving of great celebration.”