Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 17, 2010
Polska church home to happy memories
LEN KAWALILAK AND
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
At the turn of the 20th century (1903), Polish immigrants from Galicia, Poland, came to settle in the area between Daysland and Holden. Father Kulawy was the first priest in the area and celebrated Mass at the homes of the settlers.
On Feb. 12, 1906 after Mass at the Szczepaniec family home, a meeting was held to discuss building a chapel. Enough land was donated for a chapel and a cemetery, the members donated logs, lumber, materials and a lot of hard work.
In March 1907, the first Mass was celebrated in this new chapel known as St. John Nepomucene. This chapel was soon too small for the growing community.
Spring 1909, construction of a larger church was started and by winter it was all enclosed. The interior was finished in 1910. By 1917 an annex was built with a steeple. Again so much was donated, lumber, materials, bell, Stations of the Cross and a whole lot of work. Bishop Emile Legal blessed this church in 1917 under the patronage of St. John the Baptist.
This is the church you see standing so proudly today. Over the years, upgrades of electricity and a gas furnace were added. Early 1982, my dad (John Kawalilak son of Piotr Kawalilak) organized putting a new foundation under the church.
Last summer, trees were removed along the fence line so that the fence could be painted. Headstones and grave markers were washed to remove all stains and lichen, a new cross for the cemetery was donated and erected.
This year, because the interior is in such grand condition, we need to do some exterior repairs to preserve it. With your help and support we will do the necessary repairs, replace rotten boards, windows and frames and paint.
Len Kawalilak: memories of Polska would have to be summer catechism, altar boy for many years, the awesome picnic lunches and ball games, fall supper and dance and New Year's dances and even getting married in the same church as my parents. My daughter hopes someday she will be able to get married there as well.
Lucy Stambaugh (Kawalilak) shared her favourite memories, that of First Communion, catechism during summer holidays, weddings and hearing Grandpa's crystal clear booming voice singing wonderful Polish Christmas carols.
The first Friday of every month was "Confession Friday" and Father heard Confessions and said Mass. A church brings people together and is the spiritual, cultural and social heart of a community.
I am sure there are many people with memories like these. We should keep them alive by coming together at our beloved Polska for weddings, funerals, St. John's picnic, reunions and anniversaries thus creating memories for our children and sharing our heritage.
Our ancestors put a lot of hard work into this church at a time when spare time and money were a lot harder to come by.
This year's Polska picnic will be June 26, 11 a.m., blessing of the graves to follow Mass, then lunch. If anyone is interested in providing entertainment at this fundraising event please let us know. Contact Len Kawalilak at 403-843-8467.
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