About 40 people turned out last Saturday, Oct. 6, for the chili and hot dog benefit to restore the old barn at St. Patrick’s Rock Church in Catawissa.

Members of the St. Patrick’s Preservation Society want to save the old barn as a tribute to the man who has spent 40 years restoring the stone church and grounds.

The weather-washed structure, built in 1867 to house the horse and buggy used by Father Philip Grace to minister to the remote rural parish, is the only structure on the grounds of the Catawissa church complex that has not been restored.

Billy Murphy, St. Patrick Rock Church Preservation Society president, has spearheaded an annual picnic at the church for 40 years to preserve the church and grounds. This year the cumulative funds raised during the picnics reached $1 million.

More than half was profit, which was spent on the church and grounds. Over the years, the money has been used to restore the church and priest’s house, rebuild the antique hand-pumped organ, expand the kitchen and screened dining hall, construct restrooms and a pavilion to provide shade for picnic goers.

The Preservation Society hopes to raise enough funds to restore the barn so that no picnic money will be used on the project.

“We are not going to use any of the picnic funds to restore the barn,” said Bob Conley, who has co-chaired the annual picnic with Murphy for the past decade.

The barn has been untouched since the old priest used it. It stands east of the cemetery and grounds now used for parking on the day of the picnic.

Anyone wanting to contribute can make checks payable to St. Patrick’s Maintenance Fund (in care of Bob Conley) and mail to Bob Conley, 3 New Sugar Creek Road, Fenton, MO 63026.