by: KAY SCHACHER - Archbishop Alexander Sample presides over Mass at St. Paul Catholic Church on Sunday as it commemorates its 175th anniversary.Oregon’s first Catholic church was celebrated Sunday with the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland and more than 200 participants.

St. Paul Catholic Church, the oldest church building in Oregon, housed the great number of people for Mass, led by the nation’s youngest archbishop, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample.

“He took over in April, so this was his first official visit to St. Paul,” said Monsignor Gregory Moys, who has been pastor of St. Paul for four-plus by: KAY SCHACHER - The procession organizes outside St. Paul Catholic Church before Mass.years. “He loves rural areas and really made himself at home at his first visit. He’s full of joy and very personable.”

The event also featured a history presentation by Moys about the origins of St. Paul and a concert.

The crowd then assembled at St. Paul Community Hall for a dinner celebration, which was donated by parishioners.

“We planned lunch for 150 and we served 225,” said Maureen Ernst, a member of the St. Paul Parish Committee, which started planning the event eight months ago. “It was just phenomenal.”

She added that the weather couldn’t have been more ideal, the Mass led by the archbishop couldn’t have been more inspiring and the excitement over the number of guests couldn’t have been more heart-warming.

by: KAY SCHACHER - Maxine Ernst Brassel and Claudia Ernst Smith played dual grand pianos as part of a concert celebrating the 175th anniversary of St. Paul Catholic Church.“It was everything we could possibly have hoped for,” she said.

St. Paul Parochial School, Oregon’s oldest Catholic School, will celebrate its 170th anniversary this fall.

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