Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 10, 2007
Holden parish goes for 80th anniversary 'cause it's a sure thing
New priest Fr. Nilo Macapinlac plans to draw young families by offering liturgies of the word for children
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"We probably won't make it to the 100th (anniversary) so let's celebrate the 80th."
- Albin Lukawiecki
But with the recent arrival of the energetic Macapinlac, things may change. Under his lead, the parish will soon start offering liturgies of the word for children to attract young families and assure a youth base for the future.
"If we don't start rebuilding (the parish) now, in 10 years there will be four to five people attending church," Tull said.
In his homily, Hamilton reminded the parishioners that St. Gregory's Church is a place where the people of God can come together and proclaim without apology that Jesus Christ is Lord.
"This building is the outcome of the vision of a lot of dedicated people," he said. "It is a beacon to your community that you exemplify the words of Jesus: 'The kingdom of God is at hand.'"
In the early 1920s, Catholics in the Holden area celebrated Mass in the Vermilion Valley School or at the CNR Depot once a month with a priest coming from Edmonton.
In 1926, under the leadership of Father Edward Quirk, they decided to build a church. The building was blessed and dedicated to St. Gregory June 17, 1927 by Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Leary.
"The head carpenter was a Mr. Kolodychuk who had a peg leg but could climb the ladder and roof like a cat," recounted longtime parishioner Lucy Pokraka in a brief history of the early days.
"The parishioners helped build the church. They must have done a good job as the church lasted many years and was eventually moved to Innisfree and used as a Catholic church there."
Mass in the church was held twice a month with a priest coming from Tofield. A parishioner who lived in town would open the church and light the stoves to warm up the building.
"If you came a bit earlier to Mass you could see your breath in the church as it hadn't warmed up yet," recounted Pokraka.
The church had no pews, only five chairs nailed together with 2x4s. "You had to put them straight to see the altar." Pews were bought in the early 1930s and they are still around.
"I come here because basically this is home for me."
- Dave Maruszeczka
"Attendance in the church was fairly good and a lot of Ukrainian Catholics came as they had no church in town," wrote Pokraka.
"Depression was hard on the families and the church. Many churches at the time were closed, but somehow St. Gregory's survived it all."
The present church was built in 1958-59 to meet the post-war increased settlements and population. It was blessed June 28, 1959 by Archbishop Anthony Jordan.
In September 1961, Holden was established as a parish after being a mission all the previous time. In 1968, Ryley and Tofield were added to Holden. In 1989, Viking, Irma and Prague were also added.
Since 2000, St. Gregory's has been sharing a pastor with Viking and Vegreville. The current pastor, Macapinlac, lives in Viking.
Emily Ogonoski, 83, has been a parishioner since 1927. "We started to come as soon as the church was built," she recalled. "Mass was in Latin and I did enjoy singing in Latin. Everybody sang in those days." Ogonoski's brother, Albin Shanley, was the parish's first altar boy.
Dave Maruszeczka, who represents St. Gregory's on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, has been a parishioner since 1988. "I come here because basically this is home for me," he said. "My grandfather, George Maruszeczka, helped build the (old) church."
Maruszeczka, who was raised in nearby Bruce, recalled attending Mass at St. Gregory's as a child every time he visited his grandparents. "I feel very comfortable and accepted in this parish," he added.
"This is a very close parish in terms of helping each other and participating in projects."
Maruszeczka's wife Marian, head of the liturgy committee, described St. Gregory's as a welcoming and friendly parish where everybody knows everybody. "We have coffee every week after Mass," she noted.
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