Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
September 17, 2001
A piece of Lisieux in Irma church
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
IRMA — A piece of Lisieux lies in a chapel in the village of Irma, 30 km west of Wainwright.
It is an ordinary statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
What is significant about this almost three-foot replica of the Little Flower is that it was chosen personally for the church in Irma by Mother Agnes of Jesus, St. Thérèse blood sister.
Father Joseph McGrane, pastor of St. Therese Parish in Irma in the 1930s, visited the Carmelite monastery in Lisieux and met with St. Thérèse's sister, who was then the prioress.
"Father McGrane asked her to choose a statue that is close to the image of St. Thérèse," Sister Mary Ludwig, who is a Sister of St. Joseph told the WCR.
"She is beautiful," said five-year old Elizabeth Artymko.
Elizabeth is one of the children to whom Ludwig will soon teach catechism.
She is the daughter of Vincent Artymko, one of the caretakers of the church.
As soon as Elizabeth came to the church with her mother and brothers she said, "I know who that is."
When the WCR asked Elizabeth who she thought the statue was, she innocently said, "St. Theresa. My dad told me that she is up in heaven with God."
"Last spring, I was just telling the children about St. Thérèse and this statue," said Ludwig.
Now at least 10 people from the town of 550 are planning to visit Edmonton to see the relics of St. Th‚rŠse on display at St. Theresa Church Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
The Sisters of St. Joseph, who have been doing ministry in the area for more than 50 years said that Father McGrane brought two statues from Lisieux. Both are still in the area.
"The statue of St. Thérèse in our house was brought with this one in the church," said Ludwig.
"Ours has been repainted except for the face but this one has not been touched," Ludwig added.
Long-time parishioners knew that the statue was brought from France, but the new ones needed to be told the story.
Today about 550 people live in the village and on the first Monday of every month 20 to 30 come to celebrate Mass.
Very few original Irma residents live there now.
Marjorie, who lived all her life in Irma, is a convert to Catholicism. She became Catholic when she married Mike Oracheski.
"I think it is wonderful to know that this statue is significant because it was chosen by St. Thérèse's sister," said Marjorie.
In 1927 Pope Pius XI proclaimed St. Thérèse as co-patron of missions with St. Francis Xavier. When the mission church of Irma was built in 1928 it was named for her.
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