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St. Paul celebrating the first Mass in Oregon

A special Mass and luncheon on Sunday will celebrate Father Francis Blanchets arrival in 1839


St. Paul’s role in the settling of the Pacific Northwest will take center stage on Sunday, when St. Paul Catholic Church will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the first Mass in what is now the state of Oregon.by: SETH GORDON - Hallowed history -- St. Paul Catholic Church will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the first Mass in Oregon -- performed in the church Jan. 6 1839 -- with a concelebrated Mass with archbishop Alexander Sample at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

At the request of French Canadian settlers, who in 1834 asked that a priest be sent for their benefit, Father Francis Blanchet offered Mass for the first time at St. Paul church on Jan. 6, 1839.

The celebration, which will also commemorate the establishment of the first Catholic parish and cemetery in 1839, will begin at 10 a.m. with a musical prelude by pianists and cousins Maxine Ernst Brassel and Claudia Ernst Smith.

Five donors contributed to the rental of two baby grand pianos for the event. Liturgy and music have been organized by parish choir director Kevin Smith and cantor Robin Mallory.

Brassel and Smith also performed at the 150th anniversary celebration in 1989, at which current parish priest monsignor Gregory Moys was also present, as he was finishing up a one-year stint in St. Paul.

Archbishop Alexander Sample will make his first visit to the parish to participate, along with visiting priests, in a concelebrated Mass at 11 a.m.

Moys, who returned to St. Paul in 2009, will give a presentation on the history of the St. Paul Catholic Mission following Mass and preceding a catered luncheon at the community hall. Good will donations will be accepted and commemorative plates will be available for purchase at the hall.

“The parish community of Saint Paul in St. Paul, Oregon, is a study of a lived faith throughout the history of the Catholic Church in Oregon,” Moys said. “It seems that each year brings another milestone in the historical development of our community. Historical celebrations not only remind us of our origins pointing the way to new beginnings in fulfilling the hopes and visions of those who have gone before us and our hopes and visions in a faith lived today.”

Moys also noted that because families have passed down their farms from generation to generation, St. Paul’s population has remained at around 300 people, helping the community to remain uniquely unchanged even to this day.

The church will continue to celebrate the anniversaries throughout the year, including with its first pictorial directory since the 150th anniversary, and Moys plans to produce a historical booklet in the coming months.

The church, which Moys estimated can hold around 350 people, will hold its regularly-scheduled Mass at 8 a.m., as well.

The St. Paul Parochial School will celebrate its 170th anniversary in 2015.



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