St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Columbus wrapped up its year-long 175th anniversary celebration with a Mass on Saturday featuring Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and a number of former priests.

That longevity is impressive. To put it into context, the parish is nearly as old as Bartholomew County and Columbus, both formally founded in 1821.

Throughout nearly two centuries, the church has grown into the county’s largest house of worship. An average of 2,000 people attend one of four services weekly.

A banner marking the 175th anniversary of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church hangs from a lamp post in downtown Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. Mike Wolanin | The Republic
A banner marking the 175th anniversary of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church hangs from a lamp post in downtown Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

St. Bartholomew’s ability to attract worshipers is notable, but so too is the role the church has played in the community.

For example, it’s helped build bridges between faiths and foster dialogue and understanding. St. Bartholomew members formed a 14-person panel with the Islamic Society of Columbus Indiana after St. Bartholomew and two other Christian churches were spray-painted in 2014 with Islamic graffiti.

St. Bartholomew provides ongoing support to Love Chapel, the nonprofit organization that assists residents in need with food, shelter and finances. Love Chapel is an outreach of the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County, of which St. Bartholomew is a founding member.

The church also has been a welcoming home for Hispanics, as its Hispanic ministry has grown to about 450 people attending its weekly Spanish service.

And for more than 150 years, the parish has provided education for students through a Catholic school. Today it serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade, honored for academic excellence, open to parish and nonparish families.

St. Bartholomew has deep roots in the county and has become an integral part of the community fabric over the years through its service and contributions. Its milestone and lasting impacts are worth celebrating.