The parish has made a number of recent improvements to the church’s Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, including adding a walkway, benches and room for more flowers. “Fifty years ago I submitted an article on the same shrine when it was constructed,” said parish trustee David Hnath. “How time flies!” (Submitted photo)

Parishioners of St. Peter Church, Dauby, and fellow members of the Ashland Catholic cluster gathered for a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the church’s Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine on Sunday, Aug. 21.

Highlights of the day’s events included an outdoor Mass celebrated under clear skies and a catered dinner in the social hall.

The Mass began with the ringing of the original bell used 110 years earlier when Mass was first celebrated in Dauby in the home of one of the faithful. The bell is now mounted on the nearby on-premises church/shrine sign.

Mass was celebrated by Fr. Jerome D’Souza, pastor, on the same altar used 50 years ago when the shrine was blessed and dedicated.

Dcn. John Grek assisted Fr. Jerome at the altar, as he always does whenever Masses are said at St. Peter’s. Songs for the Mass were familiar Marian hymns sung by the congregation, led by the St. Peter choir.

Before the final blessing, Fr. Jerome called on St. Peter Trustee David Hnath to say a few words about how the shrine came to be. Hnath spoke of how the parishioners of that time assisted in the construction phase by contributing all the stones making up the 10-foot high grotto.

When he spoke about all the changes and improvement made to the shrine in the past 50 years, he felt obligated to speak about one sad event, vandalism in 2004, when the Blessed Mother statue was defaced by knocking off the nose and breaking off the fingers of the folded hands.

The statue was replaced with a replica, 5-feet high, also hand carved of white Cararra marble near the quarries in Italy. He finished by delineating some of the new features, recently completed, for visitors who are increasing in numbers each year – a new stamped-deco concrete walkway, larger garden space for flowers, and two decorative concrete benches that make prayer and meditation more comfortable.

After the outdoor celebration, parishioners were invited into the nearby social hall for a catered dinner featuring broasted chicken and roast beef. A large cake, decorated with an edible picture of the shrine, was served along with other sweets.

A remembrance of the event was also offered free to all – a drinking mug with colorful images, one each of the shrine and the church.