Saturday, September 10, 2011

St Patrick's Pilot Town

Today was the annual Mass at St Patrick's Chapel up in Pilot Town.

Here is a bit of the history:
In 1819 the Rev. Roger Smith purchased a half acre from Daniel Glacken for a church and a burial ground.  The church was built and the first religious service was held in 1819.  The congregation consisted mostly of Irish immigrants working in the lumbering operation bordering the Susquehanna River and the canals on both sides of the river.  They built a new church.  They called it St. Patrick’s Chapel.

  St. Patrick’s Chapel is a testimonial to the toil and faith of the early nineteenth century residents of Cecil County.  Old Conowingo was a busy thoroughfare; a major crossing of the Susquehanna River.  Here Lafayette and Compte de Rochambeau, with their troops, crossed the Susquehanna in 1781 on their way to Yorktown.  Here, lumber operations were established and canals created to foster the growing economic life of the county and here people built their church telling us that their faith was as important as their commerce.  For these reasons alone, the chapel is an important landmark deserving preservation.

    With the advent of the railroad, canal commerce diminished and the population shifted away from Pilottown.  The chapel was abandoned several times during its’ 188 year history.  In spite of sporadic “restoration” attempts, the chapel frequently experienced neglect.  A passerby in the 1920s remarked that the grounds were overgrown with brush, the front door swinging on its hinges, and the interior invaded by animals.  Most old wood framed buildings would not have withstood such an assault.  However, this building refused to collapse; refused to die.  It still stands, a witness to our past, and a potential refuge to future generations.  This is a humble, courageous building, but it needs our help!  It stands there saying “I’m part of your history, I won’t let you forget me.”

The chapel has since been restored, and is under the loving care of some wonderful people from Good Shepherd parish now.

Every year there is a Mass, and now there are more baptisms and other family celebrations for the people in the area whose families are part of the history. 

I am so glad we were able to be part of today's celebration. 
Brendan and Paul were able to Altar serve,  

Fr Jay, Deacon Luke, and Fr John Abrams officiated. 

There were actually a lot of people there, given the flooding and other problems in the area. 
Interestingly the gospel today was:

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6:43-49.
Jesus said to his disciples : "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built.
But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed."

This church is a testament to all those people long ago who built their house of Faith on solid rock.

After Mass the weather was beautiful, and we were able to have a lovely outdoor reception.

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