Courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

BRIDGTON — On Aug. 22, 1971, Fr. Gilbert Patenaude smiled wide as the new St. Joseph Church was blessed and dedicated on 225 South High Street in Bridgton, where it still serves as a beacon of faith and hope for Catholics in the area and beyond. Exactly 50 years later, the current parishioners at St. Joseph Church are inviting non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics to gather with them to celebrate the milestone anniversary of this sacred space and community.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration will kick off with a Mass on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 4 p.m. The Mass, which will also be livestreamed at www.cluster30.org, will be followed by a eucharistic procession and a barbecue sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Visitors can enjoy historical picture displays and other entertainment at the barbecue, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 22, a Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m. followed by a reception in the church hall. All are welcome at any of the events.

In addition, a nine-day novena will be offered to St. Joseph from Aug. 13-21 with nightly adoration at the church at 7 p.m. A novena is a Catholic practice of prayer, typically completed over nine days. The first novena is attributed to the Apostles’ time in the upper room praying and waiting, after the Ascension, for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 

Though Catholics have gathered in Bridgton for Masses for over a century, it was in 1971 that the current St. Joseph Church was dedicated. Large crowds, particularly in the summer months, forced the need for a larger building and ground was broken in the fall of 1970. The parish was established the next year, with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fryeburg a part. In the last half century, St. Joseph Church has become known throughout the community for its commitment to social justice and helping neighbors in need as well as drawing parishioners and worshippers from as many as 15 nearby towns.

For more information about the anniversary celebration, contact the parish at 207- 647-2334.