The city of Hobart was founded in 1847 on the eastern edge of Lake County. Hobart was one of a handful of settlements that developed around the area’s rich farmland. Many of those who settled here were German farmers.
The city grew slowly until 1858 when the Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne Railroad was constructed through Hobart mainly by Irish immigrants, making Hobart a major shipping point for the county. As the community developed with mainly German and Irish immigrants, the number of Catholics also grew until 1873, when Father Michael O’Reilly, the pastor of Saint Paul in Valparaiso, decided the time was right to establish a parish in the city. Before this time, priests would come from Valparaiso to celebrate mass in private homes. Father O’Reilly placed the fledgling Catholic community at Hobart under the patronage of Saint Bridget of Kildare, a sixth century disciple of Saint Patrick and the first abbess of Kildare. The first resident pastor came thirty years later in 1903. Reflecting the earlier cultural makeup of the community, ninety per cent of the pastors have been of German descent.
A change in the ethnic makeup of the parish would not occur for almost thirty years, with the establishment of the United States Steel Corporations’s mills in the new city of Gary. Many of those who came to work in the mills were from Eastern Europe. Beginning in the late 1920’s, the second generation of those Gary settlers were beginning to come to Hobart. It is at this time that names of Italian families and families from Eastern Europe (particularly Poles) begin to appear in the Baptismal Register.
The latter part of the last century saw an influx of new members of the parish who have come from the African American community as well as families from Central and South America. The latest cultural groups to join the parish are from Asia, particularly from Vietnam and the Philippines.
There is a story in the life of Saint Bridget that relates of her ministering to a dying man. She took some straw and wove a cross that he might fix his attention on it as he prepared to meet the Lord. The symbol for our parish on the millennium quilt is the cross of Saint Bridget woven in the various colors of the people that now represent our parish community. On any given Sunday you will find worshiping together descendents from the five populated continents: different backgrounds, cultures, and races; a community sharing one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one goal to live and spread the kingdom of heaven.
– Fr. Dominic V. Bertino