HOLY TRINITY PARISH HISTORY
In January, 1964, Holy Trinity Parish was established to serve the needs of a fast growing Roman Catholic community in East Bremerton. The first mass was celebrated on February 2nd of that year in the Sheridan Park Gymnasium. The faith community gathered together for four years for the weekly celebration of the Eucharist until 1968 when the parish church and facilities were completed. There were approximately 600 registered families in the parish at that time.
The eleven acre property was selected and purchased due to the acumen and foresight of Monsignor Joseph Camerman, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, our mother parish, in 1961 to bring to reality the vision of Archbishop Thomas Connolly to develop and open a new parish for the area. The estimated cost of the buildings was $500,000 and a building campaign was begun to raise $160,000 of that amount. Due to the hard work, many personal sacrifices and fundraising efforts of our charter parishioners the goal was not only met but surpassed. The collection of campaign pledges and the finalization of building plans culminated in the groundbreaking ceremonies on August 20, 1967. This significant event in the life of the new community was made even more memorable when Monsignor Camerman presented Holy Trinity with a check for $100,000. This generous, unexpected and magnanimous gift from our mother parish enabled all the church buildings at Holy Trinity to be built at one time instead of in three stages, as originally planned.
Parishioners readied a five room house and business office for Fr. Kames Knelleken, the first pastor and in April and May of 1964 work parties constructed a small chapel for sacramental celebrations to include daily Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and baptisms. The present day scout hall - Voltin Hall - was that chapel.
Fr. Edward Boyle was named as the second pastor of Holy Trinity in June of 1968. On Trinity Sunday, June 9th, the facilities were complete enough for the celebration of three Sunday masses. The joyous and long anticipated formal dedication of the church, with Archbishop Connolly presiding, took place on August 25, 1968. With the completion of the building project, the clergy and parishioners were now able to redirect and channel their efforts and talents from the physical needs of the parish to the full time work of building up the spiritual Body of Christ as they embraced and implemented the changes of the Second Vatican Council.
In these exciting years of growth, members of the community came to a deeper understanding and appreciation of their identity as the People of God and of the importance of the mission and ministry of the laity as disciples and followers of Jesus who live out their baptismal call in service to God and neighbor. In addition to active participation in the catechetical, sacramental and liturgical life and ministries of the parish, parishioners also embraced and assumed leadership roles and responsibilities as they worked with the clergy and staff on parish consultative bodies. Outreach ministry to the poor and needy within and outside the parish community grew in importance, as well, and continues to remain a priority and a mainstay in the life, ministry and commitment of the parish.
Fr. Joseph Erny became the third pastor of Holy Trinity in 1976. Under his leadership, the scope of parish ministry and spiritual care of the community was broadened by his choice to hire our first deacon. In the summer of 1989, Holy Trinity commemorated its 25th anniversary with an all-parish mass and celebration in the Kitsap Pavilion, a memorable event. Shortly thereafter, Fr. Erny completed his last project as pastor by accomplishing a renovation and expansion of the parish office and the completion of a new weekday chapel to accommodate our growing community. Fr. Erny accepted the pastorate of St. Cecelia Parish on Bainbridge Island in the summer of 1990 and succumbed three months later to a lengthy battle with cancer. The original stained glass window in the chapel was designed and crafted by him in a labor of love. After his death, our chapel was named in his honor.
Fr. Jack Buckalew became the fourth pastor of Holy Trinity in July of 1990. In the twenty years of his priestly ministry among us, Holy Trinity has continued to grow in size, in commitment to fostering the individual and communal life of faith and discipleship, in the establishment and fostering of new outreach ministries and in the affirmation and nurturing of the abilities and ministerial gifts of all members of our parish family. A hallmark of his pastorate has been his encouragement and insistence on collaboration and partnership in ministry and in the governance of the parish with the staff and lay leaders and shepherds of the community. We have been blessed by his two decades of ministry, with and for us, that has provided continuous, consistent and stable leadership and spiritual guidance and care. Fr. Jack celebrated his 36th anniversary of priestly ordination and service to God’s people on June 1st, 2010.
In June of 1992, the momentous occasion of the retiring of the parish debt was celebrated with much joy and fanfare with an all-parish liturgy, social gathering and the ceremonial “burning of the mortgage.” Two years later our parishioners once again rose to the challenge of fundraising and making pledges to support the replacement of the roofs on all parish buildings and to initiate necessary repairs and upgrading of parish facilities. Monies in excess of $550,000 were pledged and the six-year fundraising effort was successfully completed in 1999.
One of the enduring strengths and great gifts of our parish community has been its ethnic and cultural diversity. We are blessed with many parishioners of Asian Pacific Islander descent, a growing Latino community and those who come to be one with us from many countries around the world. The cultural richness of these many heritages is celebrated by the parish in liturgy, in the remembrance of special feast days and patron saints, and in fiestas and festivals that have fed both body and soul. We have shared in the warmth, hospitality, wonderful food, music, dance, spirituality and devotions of our brothers and sisters in faith that have become the threads of a beautifully woven and vibrant tapestry of life and love for our parish family.
In 2005, a parish survey was conducted to identify priorities and goals for our future. One area that was clearly and consistently highlighted was a need for additional office space to support existing and expanding parish ministries and the updating and renovation of our forty-year-old parish rectory. A “Dream Team” of capable parishioners, who would provide guidance to Fr. Jack, was established in 2007 under the leadership of Dr. George Zerr and tasked with assessing the facilities requirements of the parish over the next 10-20 years.
After much prayer, reflection and discussion with the community at parish town hall meetings, a decision was reached to embark on a Capital Campaign to construct a Ministry Center to provide for modern and efficient parish and staff offices, the renovation and updating of the rectory to reestablish privacy for the clergy by moving staff offices out of the rectory living space and to create living quarters for a second priest, and to enlarge the daily chapel to provide a hospitable environment for small funerals, weddings and convalidations.
And so, in the Fall of 2007, our parish launched a three-year Capital Stewardship Campaign entitled, “It’s Our Community, Our Future” to raise the $1.2 million that would be required for this ambitious undertaking. Once again, the members of our parish family were asked to step out in faith and to focus on what God would accomplish through them as they responded to the challenge placed before them to make a pledge based “not on equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.” In addition all were invited to support the campaign by praying daily for its success and for the wisdom and guidance of its leaders.
What an extraordinary three years it has been for Holy Trinity as together we have witnessed the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through the combined efforts of our parish family to bring our Capital Stewardship Campaign and construction efforts to fruitfulness. To date, over $1,000,000 of the monies pledged have been collected. The rectory renovation was accomplished under the capable leadership of Bill Dewey, the coordination of Pat Trapp and the thousands of hours given by many parish volunteers in a labor of love. Through their gifts of time, talent, boundless energy and great enthusiasm, building costs were significantly minimized that resulted in a substantial saving to the parish on this phase of the project and a finished product of beauty, outstanding craftsmanship, great comfort, and many amenities.
A very special thank you is extended to Jerry Mc Auliffe and his family members and employees who provided all of the new landscaping on the parish grounds, around the Ministry Center and in the rectory courtyard. His generous gift has truly made our grounds beautiful and the courtyard both pleasing to the eye and a place of relaxation and retreat.
The new (2010) Ministry Center is spacious, light and airy, a wonderful place in which our staff and volunteer disciples can work and our parishioners and members of the wider community can come to be served and ministered to in the Lord’s name. Our expanded chapel provides an intimate and prayerful setting for sacramental celebrations and for those who participate in our daily masses. The arrival of new sanctuary furnishings completes this part of our building efforts. It is our hope that coincident with the completion of our three-year Capital Stewardship Campaign will be the dedication of our new buildings and a parish celebration with our Archbishop.
The efforts and hard work of so many who have given so much has resulted in a lasting legacy for the future of our parish that will serve us for many years to come. Together we have built not only a house of wood, plaster and mortar, but of living stones to give praise, honor and glory to God. As we have been blessed, so may we be a blessing to others.