A church thriving on community support
By Makenna Mays, Staff Writer
St. Mary's of the Rock celebrated a milestone on Saturday, April 6—175 years of being a parish.
Supporters of the church, both young and old, showed up to hold a 175-year commemorative banner and have their photo taken on the front steps.
The amount of people who showed up even surprised Laura Huber, who has been closely affiliated with the church for some time. Huber said it felt wonderful to know the community loves the church as much as she does.
Before the church existed, a priest visited the surrounding area and conducted mass in the homes of people who lived around there. In 1844, St. Mary's of the Rock began as a log church. Many of those present for the photo that day had family who had been part of the church since it opened in 1844.
Huber, who has been working on a history book on the surrounding area and the church, said the church bells drew everyone to church. In 1906, the church caught on fire. It is believed the fire started in the barn. The walls were left standing, and the structure and rectory were saved. Huber said the fire was put out by a bucket brigade, and an early edition of the Brookville Democrat/American has photos of the fire.
The parish closed in 2013/2014, but parishioners still continue to have mass once a month and occasionally will host other events as well.
“This is just a day for them [the community] to get their picture taken and let everybody know that we're celebrating 175 years. Even though we've overcome all these hardships, we're still a tight-knit community,” said Huber.
Even though the parish has closed, the community of the church is still very vibrant and active. They still have a festival each year where they see a lot of support. There is also a beautiful grotto in the back of the church. It is adorned with an arch that blooms with wisteria, and there are rosaries draped on statues that show there are still visitors. Huber added she is very thankful for the efforts of the community.
“They're really not getting anything in return because we don't have a mass every Sunday, but they continue to come and help because they just love it here,” said Huber.