THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY of the Church of the Annunciation in Ilion was celebrated last weekend with Mass with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. The parish also had an anniversary dinner, a display of memorabilia and a slide show on its history.

Annunciation parish's history dates back to 1840, when Catholics began to settle there and in surrounding Herkimer County towns. The closest places to attend Mass were Utica or Little Falls, which involved a journey via horse and carriage, on foot or through the Erie Canal. In 1845, mission churches were established in the area; their success led to Annunciation becoming a parish in 1868, with resident priests overseeing the missions. From 1926-92, a school provided children with a Catholic education.

Faith and serving all ages are still in focus. Among highlights of Annunciation's history are sending a youth delegation to World Youth Day in the Philippines in 1995 — the only parish in the Diocese to do so — and youth events ranging from Masses to holiday parties and Christian music concerts. Popular parish devotions include a regular Rosary and eucharistic adoration; having spawned several vocations to the diaconate and priesthood, Annunciation sponsors a vocation prayer group and the Marian Movement of Priests cenacle. A fall Bible study called "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass" is set to begin Oct. 18 and run through Nov. 15.

For its 150th, Annunciation Church will be closing Oct. 15 through early December for extensive renovations. What began with the need to address a safety issue involving deteriorating flooring turned into a project to "enhance the comfort and beauty of the church:" more space between pews, new kneelers, LED lighting, cleaning, painting and moving statues. The parish was proud to note that its savings will cover the project. During renovations, Masses will be held at Our Lady Queen of Apostles parish in Frankfort, with which Annunciation is linked. (Nate Whitchurch photos)