St. Paul Catholic Church is celebrating a momentous anniversary this Sunday, May 6. The church is turning 200 years old, while the St. Paul Catholic School, run by the church, will be half that age at a respectable 100 years old.
The church, which sits on what is now St. Paul Road in the St. Paul community - both named for the church - was started in 1812 by a Father Nerinckx, who also began other area churches around that time.
The original structure, according to Anna Jean Clark, who is organizing the bicentennial celebration, was a simple log cabin, but was replaced around 1860 with a second structure.
The second building boasted a spectacular 90 feet tall bell tower, which according to Clark, became its downfall during a particularly violent thunderstorm when lightening struck the church and burned it down.
Shockingly, the third structure to house St. Paul Church stood for 41 years before meeting a similar fate, when it, too, was struck by lightening and burned to the ground.
The current building has housed the church for more than four decades and serves as a haven to the approximately 120 families who are members there. The current priest serving St. Paul is Father Marty Hayes.
St. Paul Catholic School, which serves just under 20 elementary-aged students, was started in 1912 by Father Helling. Originally, the school stood next to the church, but the current red-brick building located across the street was built in 1955.
The school is headed by Principal Sister Anne-Michelle Mudd, OSU.
To celebrate this impressive anniversary, the church will host a special celebration of the liturgy on Sunday at 1pm with Bishop William Medley presiding and will follow with a reception in the school cafeteria for those attending.
Everyone is invited, and Clark said that the church family would particularly like to have former priests, sisters and parishioners of the church and alumni and teachers and staff of the school in attendance for the event.