As for the parish’s longevity, he attributes it to a caring community of Catholics. He has attended Mass at larger churches, he said, where “you’re just a face in the crowd.”
At St. Paul’s, he said, “Everybody cares for one another. From childhood through old age, there is somebody there for you.”
He also noted that the pastor is younger than many priests and in touch with the approximately 750 families.
Reflecting on the parish’s long history, the Rev. Nelson praised the parishioners for their involvement.
“There’s a real spirit of volunteerism in the parish,” he said. “The parishioners are extremely generous with their time, interests and money. They’re always willing to step forward when there’s a need.”
That was evident when the church went through a two-year redecoration, completing it in 2009 — in time for the centennial of its founding in 2010.
The renovation included a new design for the sanctuary back wall, floor and railing; refinished Stations of the Cross, as well as extensive new trim work and improvements in sound and lighting. Former parishioner Ralph Davis donated the 14-foot cross as a memorial to his wife, and Trigard Bronze executed the new Pope John Paul II Stations of the Cross designed by John Sherman from the University of Notre Dame.
The vision and craftsmanship of James and Pat Sheehan were integral to the renovation, Nelson said.
St. Paul’s history
In 1910, Danville had a thriving Catholic community, represented by St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s parishes. As Danville grew northward, the Rev. Francis O’Reilly at St. Patrick’s thought it was time to plant a “missionary parish” in the northern part of town. The church would start as an “out mission” of St. Patrick’s.
The site of the current church was purchased on Oct. 3, 1911, and the parish of St. Paul’s was officially announced, serving Catholics north of the Big Four Railroad tracks.