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A brief history of St Patricks




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Erin celebrates with wearin’
‘o the green
St. Patrick’s also delivers with blessings


March 19, 2007

St. Kilian’s pastor David LaPlante performs Mass at St. Patrick’s Chapel in the town of Erin on Saturday. The chapel is 152 years old.

TOWN OF ERIN - Revelers and worshippers found their way to the township hours before Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade stepped off.

At St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the Rev. David LaPlante, pastor at St. Kilian’s in Hartford, ended his sermon with an Irish blessing that made the congregation of about 150 chuckle.

"May you all be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you’re dead," said LaPlante.

"This was my family church," said Town Chairman Dennis Kenealy, who came to attend Mass and pay his respects to ancestors buried across the road in St. Patrick’s Cemetery before continuing on to the parade.

"It brought me back to old times," said Patricia Klink of Hartford, who received her first communion at the 152-year-old church. "My brother (Ron Weber) served today and he served here when he was younger."

St. Patrick’s closed in 1999 but is still in occasional use as a chapel.

Cornel Rosario had the luck of the Irish when he found the doors of St. Patrick’s open.

"I was just driving by and saw the cars. It’s so difficult to find churches that are open other than at Sunday services," said Rosario.

He does some portrait and wedding photography but Rosario said he most enjoys taking pictures of churches.

"They are so beautiful, especially the stained glass," said Rosario, as he happily snapped away.

"I came to repent before I imbibe," said Erin resident Tim Dunne, who explained his non-Catholic brethren were holding a spot for him on the parade route.

After the procession, Dunne was off to celebrate with friends, 30 pounds of corned beef his wife cooked, a half-dozen loaves of brown bread he pulled from the oven at 1 a.m. and, presumably, a few adult beverages.

Down the street at Dunnigan’s, the party had already begun for merry makers wearing T-shirts that read "The Erin Expedition."

Sean Eckert of Fond du Lac headed up the company, which started nine years ago when he and a friend came to see what all the fuss was about in the town on March 17.

The two friends grew to a busload of 30 over the years, after Eckert sold his wife and her co-workers on the charm and uniqueness of the celebration, but his first trip brought him to a now-closed tavern across the street - Lucy’s Horseshoe Inn, a former blacksmith shop now being leased by the town to the Erin Historical Society.

"We walked in and there was a group of old guys all talking in Gaelic. They were so friendly, they embraced us," said Eckert a fourth generation Irish/German American.

After making a reconnaissance trip to Erin a few weeks ago, Eckert said he talked the crew at Dunnigan’s into opening early to accommodate the expeditionary force.