For many people of Irish descent, St. Patrick's Day is much more than a day to party.

For Jeanine Shaw, president of the Lockport chapter of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, St. Patrick's Day is "a time to remember what our past was."

"It's a day to step back and remember those that have gone before us and all the struggles they went through to find a better life," she said. 

The Irish people have dealt with many struggles over time, Shaw said. Many left their homeland after a potato famine in the 1840s, and many faced discrimination when they arrived in the United States.

Members of the Lockport chapters of Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ancient Order of Hibernians will celebrate St. Patrick's Day by attending Mass at All Saints Parish.

In a nod to their heritage, AOH members will guard the church about a half-hour before the Mass. That's because in the old days, English Protestants in Ireland persecuted the Irish and their religion, Catholicism. 

"They (the Irish) would not be allowed to practice their faith," Shaw said. 

After Mass, the Hibernian orders will place a wreath in remembrance of deceased members of each organization. After breakfast at Gothic Hill Golf Course, Lockport Hibernians will travel to Buffalo to take part in the St. Patrick's Day parade.

LAOH is primarily dedicated to celebrating Irish heritage, while giving back to the community in the form of charity, according to Shaw.

"If you can think of a charitable organization in the city, then we have probably donated to it," she said.