By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
LEIPZIG, Sask. -- Some 650 people gathered at Leipzig June 4 - 5 to celebrate 100 years of faith and community at St. Paschal Catholic Church, sharing memories and renewing acquaintances in a celebration that coincided with Saskatchewan's centennial year and the 100th anniversary of St. Joseph's Colony.
Weekend events included opening mass with the bishop, a supper and program followed by a dance, a "polka mass" Sunday morning, and a pancake breakfast put on by the Knights of Columbus.
Historical displays were set up in the basement of the church, and visitors were able to tour nearby Notre Dame convent (which is now a private residence), as well as Pascal country school and the Leipzig cemetery.
The centennial gathering provides an opportunity for sharing stories and memories of all that makes up the community of Leipzig and the parish of St. Paschal, said LeGatt in his homily. The faithfulness of God and the faithfulness of all those who have gone before is reason for thanksgiving.
In the procession of the gifts the children of St. Paschal Parish, accompanied by parents and grandparents of the community, brought up symbols of the community's life and history, representing youth, working people and the older generation. Flowers, historical pictures, a teddy bear and model tractors were laid near the altar.
St. Paschal was the first parish established in St. Joseph's Colony, an area of Catholic communities west of Saskatoon launched a century ago by settlement agent F. J. Lange, who advertised for settlers in German Catholic publications in the United States, as well as promoting the colony in other countries, such as Germany and Russia.
The first mass was celebrated in 1905 in a tent. A small church was built in 1906, before the community decided to move the parish to a more central location. In 1913, one of the largest churches in Western Canada was built on the new site, with paintings by renowned artist Berthold Von Imhoff added in 1917.
That building was destroyed by fire in the fall of 1932, but by July 1933 construction of a new church started on the site, with mass held in the basement until the upstairs could be completed in 1941.
In 1984, St Paschal Parish became a mission of the parish in Wilkie, with alternating eucharistic celebrations at the parishes of Leipzig and Handel, a situation that continues today. The Leipzig parish currently has 33 families.
Until July 2004, the parish was served by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Over the past century, a total of six young men from the Leipzig district were ordained as Oblate priests, and 13 young women from the area also entered religious life.
Several Oblates from the area and former pastors attended the centennial celebration, concelebrating the eucharist with Bishop Albert LeGatt June 4. Rev. Anthony Schmidt, OMI, and Rev. Joe Zoller, OMI were in attendance, along with native sons Rev. Lester Kaufmann, OMI, Rev. Albert Ulrich, OMI, and Rev. Harold Kaufmann, OMI. Also present was Brother Walter DeMong, OMI, nephew of Rev. Frank DeMong, OMI, another priest who served at St. Paschal.
Centennial celebrations will continue in the area
when the 100th anniversary of the founding of St. Joseph Colony is marked
July 16 and 17 at the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Rosary shrine