Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 5, 2010
Hay Lakes mission remembers its roots
Parishioners gather to celebrate Sts. Peter and Paul Parish's centennial, share memories
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
HAY LAKES - Knowing our roots, remembering where we came from and sharing our history are of utmost importance, said Father Don Stein.
During its 100th anniversary celebration June 27, the priest shared the history of St. Peter and Paul Parish, a country church seven km south of Hay Lakes, near Camrose.
While the parish priest in Camrose, Stein was proud to serve the Hay Lakes mission from 1986 to 1992. He encouraged the parents who once attended the old country church to tell their stories and share their humble beginnings.
Guests at the outdoor celebration told stories of the Sisters of Service coming to Hay Lakes during the summer to teach catechism.
They reminisced on an ambitious five-month project to make a quilt that now hangs on the wall behind the altar.
"Continue to share your memories, your stories, especially with your children," said Stein.
He recalled that when he was in active ministry, couples planning to be married had to fill in government forms that asked their parents' names and where they were born.
"Almost 80 per cent of the young people didn't know where their parents were born," he said, questioning what families talked about at home, if not their own lives.
The story of the first St. Peter and Paul Church begins in 1910. Roman Catholics, mostly Polish, and the Catholics of the Eastern rite, mostly Ukrainians, built it jointly on land donated by Mathew Shawaga, an early homesteader.
Zenon Goclon said the first church was built from logs, some cut in Nisku and hauled by horses to the church site. Both congregations used the church until the Ukrainians built their own.
The Roman Catholics worshiped in the church until 1957 when it was dismantled and a new one built. The new church was completed in 1960 and dedicated by Archbishop Anthony Jordan.
Goclon's family played key roles in the original log church and the building of the new one. All of his children were baptized and confirmed at St. Peter and Paul Parish, and he attended many weddings and social events there.
In 1971, the parish became a mission of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Camrose. Sunday Masses were held every week until 1998.
With about 35 families attending Mass at that time, the closure was an unfortunate necessity, Goclon said. Along with the other Catholic families in the area, he started attending Mass in either Camrose or Viking.
"When it closed, people went in different directions. The young generation that was here, they've gone off in different directions too," he said.
The parishioners have remained steadfast for 100 years in their allegiance and fidelity to the parish's patron saints, Sts. Peter and Paul.
BOUND BY THE CEMETERY
Stein noted the church is officially closed. "But you will never be closed completely because you have the cemetery here where your dear ones are buried."
Spearheading religious education at the parish from 1975 until 1998, was Kathleen Evans.
"I was a Catholic and I was looking for a Catholic Church, and a Polish lady said she'd show us her church, and so I came here," explained Evans.
"I got quite a shock my first day. I knelt on the right side of the church during Mass, and I saw that I was the only lady on the men's side. In those days, the men sat on one side and women on the other. That was my introduction to this church."
Although now living in England, she felt duty-bound to attend the centenary celebration. Her fondest memory of the church is teaching catechism. The kids loved catechism classes and in their eagerness "they were like a thunderclap racing down the stairs after Mass.
"I will never forget the children and their eagerness and their conscientiousness, because they always did the homework I gave them."
YOUTH MOVE ELSEWHERE
Young people in search of better career opportunities did not remain in the area because they needed to be educated and trained elsewhere, she said. This affected the parish, leading to its eventual closure.
"This church should never have been shut because it served such a wide area, and we were like a glorified family. It was a really, really happy place. I have never been in a parish like this - and I have been in quite a few parishes," she said. "They cared for one another and they cared for me and they looked after their children. They were what you would call true neighbours."
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