Photographer captures Georgetown church for book

An aerial view of St. Patrick Church in Georgetown graces the cover of a coffee-table book of photos of the historic building and grounds. Ron Clester of Albia took the nearly 60 photos in the collection. (Photo courtesy of Ron Clester)

By Celine Klosterman

GEORGETOWN — Summer wildflowers, sloping countryside and wispy clouds surround a silver-steeple church. Fog settles around a statue of St. Francis. Golden bulbs light up walls, wreaths and Christmas trees inside a glowing worship space.

Ron Clester of Albia captured these images and more than 50 others for a new, coffee-table book highlighting St. Patrick Church in Georgetown, a church the non-Catholic said he’s long wanted to photograph.

“It’s just a very pretty church,” he said, citing the rural setting and attractive front grounds of the 150-year-old building.

From February to December 2009, the self-taught photographer took dozens of pictures at the church and St. Patrick’s Cemetery in various types of weather, times of day and seasons. Sometimes, he’d make the 15-minute drive from his home to the church to survey angles for potential photos, and then return during better lighting conditions to snap the pictures.


Clester’s work followed a 4-H photography class he taught several years ago, at which time he asked students to capture images of the church from several angles. “I was impressed with what they came up with.”

He began photographing the church himself while working at Peoples State Bank in Albia, but found he lacked time for the project. After he retired, he picked up a camera again. “I woke up one morning after it snowed, and there was a brilliant, blue sky.” So he took his first photo for the book on St. Patrick’s that day.

Sharon Crall, pastoral associate for St. Patrick’s, said she was impressed by the eye Clester has for photos. “The parish is very appreciative of his special interest for the church and grounds,” she said. “We are the benefactors of his incredible talent.”

Clester has turned over rights to the self-published book to St. Patrick Parish, which will receive all profits from sales. Orders for the $50 book are due Aug. 1: Send your name, address, phone number or e-mail and a check payable to St. Patrick’s Church to PO Box 183, Albia, IA, 52531. Include an extra $3 to have the book mailed to you.

The parish will celebrate the 150th anniversary of laying the church’s cornerstone Sept. 4-5. 

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