WEST PERU Several craftsmen from Gillette Brothers Inc. in Chateaugay might be thinking that theyre just a little closer to heaven as they perform much-needed repairs this summer to the steeple of St. Patricks Church in West Peru and enjoy beautiful views of the Champlain Valley.
Rev. Alan Shnob, pastor of the Catholic Community of St. Augustines and St. Patricks, explained, Metal is tearing away from the steeple and were trying to prevent further damage, especially to the inside of the church. Shnob added, When we found out that the repairs would be $32,000 we knew we couldnt do it all at once. Work will be done on the upper steeple this summer. If $16,000 more can be raised the lower steeple and eaves will be repaired next summer.
St. Patricks rich history dates to 1841 when a group of about 25 Irish families living on the Patent Road about six miles west of the village of Peru joined together to purchase land for a church. Except for a few years it has remained open for more than 150 years as a mission of several nearby parishes. Much of St. Patricks recent history and, in fact, its future, is tied to the Mother Cabrini Shrine that stands only a few feet south from its front doors. The beautiful shrine is dedicated to Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first U.S. citizen to achieve sainthood. This Citizen Saint was an Italian immigrant who founded hospitals, religious orders, orphanages and schools. She is believed by many to have affected many cures during her lifetime and miracles after her death.
In the mid-1940s St. Patricks parishioners selected stones from the church grounds and constructed a grotto to hold a statue of Mother Cabrini. On Aug. 31, 1947 some 2,000 people from throughout the United States and Canada attended the shrines dedication and thousands more followed in the months to come. While the number of visitors to the shrine has diminished through the years, several people pray at the grotto daily and many enter the peaceful St. Patricks to light a candle and pray.