Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Lehighton is celebrating it's 125th Anniversary with The Most Reverend John O. Barres, D.D, S.T.D., J.C.L., Fourth Bishop of Allentown serving the Anniversary Mass at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17. A special anniversary dinner will follow at Penn's Peak, Jim Thorpe.
Catholicism in Lehighton dates back to the year 1850, when there were seven Catholic families in the area.
During this time, German Catholic immigrants settled in the area, followed by people from Island, Poland, Italy and Slovakia. These families were instructed in their faith by Father John G. Freude who traveled by horse and buggy, visiting the Lehighton area only once a month, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Schwartz home on First Street. Later this became Smith's Home Appliance Store, now the site of a minimall.
Father William Heinen, later Monsignor, built a small church to accommodate the Catholics of the town and gave them their own place of worship.
In 1903, there was discussion about the immediate need of a new church, but it was not until August 21, 1906, that ground was broken. The cornerstone of the present church at 260 N. Third St., Lehighton, was laid on October 7, 1906. When fully completed, the construction of the church cost approximately $25,000. This modest yet adequate brick structure with stone trimming of gothic style architecture was dedicated by His Excellency, Archbishop Edmund Pendergast on Monday, Sept. 1, 1907.
Along with the building of the church, over the many years, the church has established a parish school, and have done many additions, renovations, remodeling and redecorating projects.
The last major renovation project was in 2007 to replace the front steps and in front of the church, the parish center, and the rectory. Fr. Michael Ahrensfield is the present pastor of Ss Peter and Paul.