Members of St. Catherine of Siena parish recently celebrated the congregation's 175th anniversary.
On Sunday, May 19, The Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, bishop of the diocese of Harrisburg, celebrated the Mass at the Southern End's only Catholic church.
"We've been planning this for about two and a half years," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Mark Speitel. "We had to make sure of the bishop's schedule and then plan from there."
The Mass was the most recent of a series of events the parish held to celebrate the anniversary.
On May 11, the parish celebrated an outdoor Mass at the site of its original church.
"We also brought out the statues," said Fr. Speitel said. When the church was built, it did not have statues in the sanctuary.
"Now people wanted the old way," Fr. Speitel said. "We have one of the Blessed Mother, one of St. Joseph, and one of St. Catherine of Siena."
The parish has also moved its relics to locked glass-fronted cases recessed into walls of a reliquary off the sanctuary.
The most recent relic and statue of St. John Paul II was received in April.
"We have always had them, but not a lot of people knew that. Now we have them out and on display," Fr. Speitel said.
Other relics include those from St. Agnes, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Maria Goretti, St. Philip the Apostle, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of Nacias, and St. John Neumann.
"We've been planning this for about two and a half years," Fr.
The parish was founded in 1844 to serve Scots-Irish Catholics who were working in iron furnace along the Conowingo Creek in what is now East Drumore Township.
The first chapel was built on St. Catherine Rd.; the parish's cemetery is still at that location. The church was not an independent parish but was a mission of churches in Lancaster City. It did not have its own pastor until 1930.
By the late 19th century, the parish had outgrown its stone church. A new church, still standing, was built in Quarryville and was dedicated in 1896; the original church fell into disrepair and was torn down in 1933.
The Quarryville church was home to the parish until the late 1990s, but the parish had again outgrown its home. The present church, across Robert Fulton Highway from Solanco High School, was completed in July, 1999. A community room was added in 2005.
Originally called St. Patrick's, the name was changed by St. John Neumann, then bishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia.
"It's kind of a neat story," Fr. Speitel said. "A saint came here and said we needed a new name because there were already too many St. Patricks' in the diocese. He asked what the most common name was and, when he was told Catherine, he chose St. Catherine of Siena."
The parish's celebration will continue into September when members will take an escorted pilgrimage to Italy.
"This is a happy time for us," Fr. Speitel said. "It will be a cross between a retreat and a vacation. We don't know if our parish has ever done that."