Close links have been built up over the past couple of years between our parish of St Catherine, Stuttgart, and Patch Barracks, the home of US European Command (EUCOM) and headquarters for the US armed forces in Europe. (The barracks are named after General Alexander McCarrell "Sandy" Patch, who commanded the US Seventh Army which crossed the Rhine into Germany in WWII). Many of the personnel and their families are members and active supporters of St Catherine's. It helps that our priest-in-charge of St Catherine's, the Revd Ken Dimmick (above right), is himself from the USA and has some military experience. About 20,000 US military personnel and their families are associated with Patch.
Last Sunday afternoon I had the joy of preaching at a "Baccalaureate Service" for the graduating class of 2010 from the American High School on the base. The service was organised by one of the members of St Catherine's, Mrs Barbara Crandall, whose own family are part of the Patch community. Because of the US policy of separation of Church and State, a religious service associated with high school graduation on a military base is highly unusual. Barb started the tradition just three years ago, and the interest and attendance among students and their families has grown.