In 1922 the American Parish of Rome was established at the Church of Santa Susanna next door to the US Embassy at that time.. It was staffed by the Paulist Fathers, an American Community of Priests from the United States founded in 1858. Santa Susanna was closed on July 5, 2013 for many reasons. For four years, the American community celebrated Masses, Weddings, First Communions, Confirmations, Baptisms and Funerals at three neighboring churches. At the beginning the Vatican Secretary of State, the Vicariate (Diocese) of Rome and other Vatican Congregations tried to help the Paulist Fathers and the American parish return to Santa Susanna. However, the Cistercian Monastery, which owns the Church, was opposed. At the same time, the Irish Augustinians had decided to leave Rome and therefore not continue their ministry at St. Patrick’s Church on Via Boncompagni (next to the most recent location of the US Embassy). They own the Church (and still do) and the surrounding properties but were unsure of what to do with the Church when they were no longer here.
So the Vatican Secretary of State put the two communities together. Even though we already knew each other, we began exploring the possibility of St. Patrick’s becoming the new church for Catholic Americans in Rome. Through the great generosity and hospitality of the Augustinians, we have now concluded the negotiations for the Paulist Fathers to lease St. Patrick’s Church (and some office and meeting space below) from the Augustinians. Since August 1, 2017, we have been St. Patrick’s Catholic American Community of Rome. However, ALL English speakers are welcome to participate in all of our services and ministries, as we offered at Santa Susanna. All of our Masses are in English. We moved all of our possession out of Santa Susanna in September and are now very happy in our new home Church.
Father Greg Apparcel is both the new Rector of St. Patrick’s and the Chaplain for the Mission of the Care of the US Faithful Resident in Rome.
If you were baptized, confirmed, married or received your First Communion at Santa Susanna, ALL of those records are now kept at St. Patrick’s. If you went to Marymount International School and received First Communion or Confirmation at Santa Susanna Church, all of those records are now kept at St. Patrick’s. If you were married at either Santa Susanna Church, (or a San Camillo de Lellis during our interim) or at St. Patrick’s Church, all of the religious records are kept at St. Patrick’s. Please contact our parish secretary, Rosanna Shedid for a Church certificate. For civil certificates, however, you must go to the Comune di Roma (City Hall). We can recommend very reliable agencies that will do this for you for a fee.
In the past, the term used was a Personal Parish or a National Church, that is, a Church designated for ministry to citizens of one country, living and working in another (ex-pats). But Personal Parishes are seldom created anymore. So at the request of Cardinal Di Nardo, the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, St. Patrick’s Church was designated by Archbishop Angelo De Donati (the Vicar General of His Holiness for the Dioceses of Rome) as “A Mission for the Care of Souls of the US faithful residing in Rome or visiting the city", and Fr. Greg Apparcel was named as Chaplain to this Mission, as presented by the Superior General of the Paulist Fathers, Father Eric Andrews, CPS. At the same time, as of August 1, 2017, Fr. Greg was named the Rector of St. Patrick’s Church (Chiesa di San Patrizio a Villa Ludovisi.)
This means that we have our own sacramental registries and no longer have to seek permission for weddings and other sacraments from the local parish church, San Camillo de Lellis.
At this time (Spring/Summer 2018) it is not possible. Santa Susanna Church was closed on July 5, 2013 by the Fire Department, due to three small pieces of wood that had fallen from the ceiling, as well as a damaged window above he organ. The Cistercian Monastery, which owns the Church, will re-open once they get approval from the Fire Department after necessary repairs are made. People continually write to Fr. Greg asking for special permission to enter the Church. Fr. Greg is no longer the Rector of Santa Susanna, so he has no authority to grant that permission. Even when he was Rector during the years of closure, Fr. Greg could not enter the Church, except to remove the parish's possessions under strict guidelines for safty. Some day the Cistercians will be able to reopen the Church, and anyone can then visit it. However, the American Parish has permanently moved to St. Patrick’s.
Papal Blessings are a privilege. Many people wish to give this quite beautiful document certifying that the Holy Father has bestowed his apostolic blessing as a gift for an anniversary or birthday. Since the Holy Year of Mercy the Vatican has been concerned that these blessings not become a commercial enterprise and we respect their wishes.
For those who live outside of Rome, it can be difficult to acquire a Papal Blessing, and we very much regret that we can no longer provide this service. You can contact the Papal Office directly for a blessing (Apostolic Blessings Office of Papal Charities: ph. +39.06.6988.3135, fax +39.06.6988.3132), though it will take much longer. For other information, go to www.vatican.va.
Please Note: The Vatican has recently changed its requirements for the issuance of Papal Blessings. The following updated information is provided for your convenience:
-- For weddings, the full name of the bride, with her maiden name, and the full name of the groom, along with the name of the Catholic church, city and state, where the ceremony will take place and the date of wedding must be provided;
-- For First Communions and Confirmations, the full name of the recipient, the name of the church, city and state, and the date of the reception of the sacrament must be provided;
-- For wedding anniversaries, the couple's first names, e.g., John and Joan Doe, must be provided; a blessing will not be issued in the name of a "Mr. and Mrs," e.g., "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe."
Sometimes the blessings can be arranged in a short time. However there are often delays due to the number of requests or at holiday times when work slows down and/or the offices are closed. There are also spelling errors which are common with Italian calligraphers. You will need to allow a minimum of 2 months, if not longer
The following information was provided by the Monastero Agostianiano di S. Lucia. They have the Lateran treasury of relics and a couple of priests we know have obtained some from the Sisters in the past. However, the procedure has now changed.
The request is to be addressed to:
Rev. Msgr. Marco Frisina
Direttore, Ufficio Liturgico
Vicariato di Roma
Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterno, 6/a
00184 Rome, Italy
The letter from your bishop must be sealed with his personal seal or the diocese's seal.
The following are excerpts from the Sisters superior's letter to a friend: "The new request for the holy relics must be presented first to the Vicariate of Rome for approval ... Your request must be accompanied by an endorsement letter from your bishop which guarantees that the relics you wish to obtain are intended for public veneration [emphasis added]. You must also list down the number of relics you wish to obtain and only the approved number of the relics will be given. Please do not send any donation to us before you are notified of the approval of your request."
- Specify the exact relics they are interested in obtaining. It helps if you give the full name of the Saint, along with the Saint's title and feast day on the Roman calendar, not Byzantine calendar. The Sisters are unfamiliar with the Eastern martyrology. E.g., St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, (10 August).
- How many can one request? A friend obtained a total of about 12 at one time for a Ukrainian Orthodox bishop. He advises not to ask for more in one letter since the Vicariato may get suspicious that they are being sold, which has happened numerous times in the past.
- How far ahead? With the new procedure described above, it may take months. The approval has to be given. Then, the Sisters confect the relics in the cases. The Sisters act rather quickly but the approval is another matter. The person making the request may get the relics at one time and the authenticates (documents confirming the relics' authenticity) will arrive months later, sometimes 6 to 12 months. This is because the Sisters have to submit the documents back to the Vicariato for signature and seal.
- How much is the cost? The Sisters will communicate the donation amount to the requestor when the list is approved. The "cost" depends on what kind of "thecae" (cases) the requestor desires. Approximate costs are 20 to 30 euro each. Even for the less expensive cases, my friend has always given the Sisters more since the donations (less the price of the cases) help support the monastery and they are not doing that well financially.