PARNELL, MICH. (WZZM)- Catholics around the world celebrated St. Patrick's Day Sunday, in honor of the patron saint of Ireland.
In West Michigan, one Kent County community has deep Irish roots.
"Our parish was founded in 1844 by Irish immigrants who had moved to this area," says Pat Nugent.
He and many of the others at St. Patrick Church in Parnell say their church is an important part of their heritage. Parishioners say St. Patrick church held its first mass on St. Patrick's Day in 1878.
Knowing the history, you can understand why St. Patrick's Day is important. Parishioners say the Irish consider it a holy day, and celebrate by going to mass.
St. Patrick is considered the patron saint of Ireland, because he taught the Catholic faith to the people of Ireland. Today, St. Patrick's Day is observed on March 17th, the date of his death.
While many people celebrate St. Patrick's day with alcohol and jigs, the Irish Catholics in Parnell say it's also a time to remember the past.
"It's a meaningful time to reflect back on our ancestors that came here. They put everything on the line to settle here," says Dennis Heffron.