It is arguably the most beautiful church in the City of Churches...perhaps in all of 21 Country. Some would go even further.
“I'd say this is the most beautiful Catholic Church in the Diocese of Fort Wayne South Bend,” says Father Patrick Hake. “The people that disagree are invited to come over and look at it and find out.”
When St. Peter's Catholic Church was built near Creighton and Dewald in 1872 it sat out in the country on the very southwestern edge of Fort Wayne. This magnificent Gothic treasure was built by Germans, most of whom worked at Fort Wayne's immense Pennsylvania railroad shops a mile away. St Peter's School was built first, students instructed by members of the 'School Sisters of Notre Dame'. Early masses were celebrated at this school as well before the church was built a year later. The ornate altar flanked by breathtaking windows was hand carved by old world craftsmen and the vaulted ceiling appears itself to reach up into the heavens.
“This church was built by people who had a love of God,” says Hake, “and they wanted to do was give their absolute best to God.”
Fort Wayne native Father Patrick Hake was assigned to St. Peter's just last week. He says when the sanctuary was restored years ago workers uncovered descriptions of the stations of the cross in German, painted over during world war two when things German weren't popular. At it's height St. Peter's congregation had six thousand members. Today, far fewer but the church serves its neighborhood with a food pantry and other outreach programs. Father Hake says the stress of the times creates a special hunger among his flock.
“I would say just finding meaning in the world,” he says. “Our country's the most materially wealthy country ever in history but people still aren't happy.”
Given the pandemic and civil discontent Father Hake has his work cut out for him. But fate has brought him here to labor at his calling, and to do it in one of the most inspiring corners of 21 Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.