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Memories that span 150 years

Eighty-nine-year-old Josephine Scherer's childhood at St. Lawrence O'Toole Catholic Church was a happy one.

"I was baptized 89 years ago in August," she said. "My parents, Thomas A. and Mary O'Brien Rooney were married there."

She married her late husband Kenneth at the church.

"I felt at home there," she said. "I wouldn't think of anything else. It wouldn't even enter my mind."

Many others have been baptized or married at the church in its 150 years.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, an anniversary celebration took place at the Knights of Columbus Hall followed by a special anniversary Mass Sunday at noon at the church.

"This is something that some would never experience in a lifetime," said Pat Whaley, chairman of the anniversary committee. "This is a great milestone."

Whaley said St. Lawrence O'Toole is the first Catholic church in Ironton, founded in 1852, only three years after the city's establishment.

"There is a long line of family ties in the church," he said. "Many of those involved with the church now have ancestors who were involved."

Most of the churches founding members were Irish, but some were German settlers.

Father Thomas Nau has been the church's pastor for six years.

"I have found this (being the pastor) to be very rewarding," he said. "The members of the church have many gifts and talents that they use in many ways.

Altogether, church parishoners have raised $15,000 for the anniversary celebration and to buy the church a gift -- a crucifix with the corpus (body of Christ) made in Italy and the cross made by one of the parishoners.

"The people of St. Lawrence O'Toole have always been generous," Whaley said. "The founding members weren't rich, but they made sacrifices because they had great love and faith in God."

"This shows their committment, enthusiasm, and faith," Nau said. "They are providing a visible witness with the purchase of a religious item such as this."

Pictures from as far back as 1926 were displayed at the Knights of Columbus Hall, and after a short presentation, an Irish band from the Canton area played. The band was sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hiberians, an Irish Catholic men's organization which began in the early 1800s, Whaley said. State officers of the organization will be attending the celebration.

"It's an exciting opportunity to have this," Nau said. "There are so many people involved. It's a blessing and a great joy."