Marking Time highlights one of the more than 2,500 markers that have been installed throughout the state since 1914 as part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, operated by PHMC's State Historic Preservation Office.

As early as 1737, Catholics, primarily of Scots-Irish origin, settled in the area near Carlisle, then in Lancaster County. In 1750, Cumberland County was established and Carlisle named its county seat two years later. The Reverend Charles Sewall purchased property along Carlisle’s Pomfret Street for thirty pounds in 1779 to build St. Patrick’s Church, the first Roman Catholic Church between Lancaster and St. Louis, Missouri, and the first in the country named after Ireland’s patron saint.

In 1806, the parish replaced the original log structure erected in 1784 with a brick building, and the first resident pastor, the Reverend George D. Hogan, arrived in 1821. Under Father Patrick Dwen, the church was enlarged in 1825, but a fire in 1858 destroyed the edifice, which the congregation rebuilt the following year. The congregation again reconstructed the church building after a disastrous fire in 1923. Under the direction of the Reverend Joseph Schmidt, the parish opened a school in 1940 and expanded it during the following two decades. In 1971, with parishioners numbering twenty-seven hundred, a larger church was built on the outskirts of Carlisle, in South Middleton Township. The older structure, now known affectionately by parishioners as the Shrine Church, still conducts worship services.

Two American saints, John Neumann (1811–1860) and Katharine Drexel (1858–1955), are intimately associated with the history of St. Patrick’s Church. Philadelphia Bishop John Neumann visited the church on a dozen occasions and Mother M. Katharine Drexel made sizeable financial contributions at the opening of the twentieth century (see “Philadelphia’s Sainted Katharine Drexel: Mother of the Indian and Negro Races” by William C. Kashatus and “Profile” in the summer 2007 issue). In 1901, during the pastorate of Father Henry G. Ganss, who spearheaded an expansion of the parish between 1891 and 1910, Mother M. Katharine Drexel funded the establishment of her religious order at St. Patrick’s, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. About one-third of the thousand students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School professed Catholicism. Mother M. Katharine stipulated the annex she funded, known as Saint Katharine’s Hall, be built “as a school . . . and assembly hall for the Indian, Spanish, or other children, who are now . . . at the Carlisle Indian School . . . and for a dwelling place for the Roman Catholic Sisters.” Saint Katharine’s Hall remained a catechetical center until 1918, after which it served as parish offices, headquarters for the diocesan band, and a convent for the Trinitarian Sisters. St. Patrick’s Church currently uses it as a rectory.

Before the Roman Catholic Church canonized Mother M. Katharine Drexel a saint in 2000, the PHMC dedicated a state historical marker commemorating the history of Saint Patrick’s Church in 1986.