Philosopher George Santayana once famously remarked "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
The caretakers of St. Patrick's Chapel are heeding that message.
"The biggest mistake we don't want to repeat is that this place is forgotten," said Bill Paré, treasurer of the St. Patrick's Chapel Historical Society.
One way the group keeps the memories alive is by holding an annual mass.
This year's service will be held Saturday, September 9, at St. Patrick's Chapel, 287 Pleasant Grove Rd., Pilottown (Conowingo).
The annual mass is held each September because the chapel was rededicated in September 2010, after a non-profit group raised approximately $170,000 to refurbish the church.
Paré said the chapel, which belongs to the Archdiocese of Delaware, also hosts annual masses on Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, and St. Kevin's Day in May, in addition to an open house.
"We have a number of events designed to keep people connected to the church," he said.
Weddings and baptisms also take place at St. Patrick's.
"The more events we have, the better it is for upkeep," Paré said.
A men's group of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, based in Bel Air, mows the lawn. An AOH women's group in Cecil County "has become very active", Paré said.
St. Patrick's Chapel was constructed by Irish immigrants in 1819 and originally operated by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
It was the second Catholic worship site in Cecil County and the second Catholic worship site in the United States named for the patron site of Ireland. When the Conowingo Dam flooded in 1928, the small population supporting the chapel was dispersed.
From 1934-1960, no public services were held. Repairs began in 1960 after Good Shepherd Church in Perryville was founded.
St. Patrick's was once again underused from 1972-2000.
The St. Patrick's Chapel Historical Society was formed in 2006. "We were able to use old photos to reproduce what the chapel originally looked like, especially for the stencil work," Paré said.
A loft houses the original pump organ.