St. An­thony’s Church marks 100 years

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

As set­tlers came to the west to make a new life, of­ten they brought with them the very ba­sic, some food, clothes and a dream. They also brought their faith.

This year the St. An­thony’s Paris is cel­e­brat­ing 100 years in Drumheller. While it was not the first faith com­mu­nity in the val­ley, it has en­dured through the last 100 years.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hills of Home His­tory book, the first Catholic mass didn’t be­gin in a sanc­tu­ary, but in the White­house Ho­tel. Rev­erend Fa­ther Rus­sell, whose ter­ri­tory stretched from Rock­y­ford to Al­sask, held a mass in a room at the White­house in the spring of 1913. Be­fore a church was es­tab­lished, Fa­ther Rus­sell would at­tempt to make it to Drumheller once a month, how­ever, the road con­di­tions’ and weather in the un­de­vel­oped area made travel dif­fi­cult. At times, he would say mass at a cabin in the Orkney dis­tinct owned by Ovide and Alphonse Auger. In 1914, the first church was built.

This con­tin­ued for a few years and the min­istry grew un­der Fa­ther Bowlen. In 1917, Bishop Mc­Nally vis­ited Drumheller and deemed it nec­es­sary to ap­point a res­i­dent pas­tor, and Fa­ther J. McGil­livray be­came the first par­ish priest. Soon a rec­tory was built and the church was fur­nished and added to for ca­pac­ity. Fa­ther McGil­livray served for the next 10 years also say­ing mass in Wayne and Mun­son. The church flour­ished and in that times, the Catholic Women’s League, the Al­tar So­ci­ety, and Colum­bus Club were es­tab­lished.

In 1927 Fa­ther P.J.N, Cos­man was ap­pointed by Bishop Kidd, and the church con­tin­ued to grow. A ro­bust Sun­day school was formed. The church was able to pur­chase ad­ja­cent lots, which were beau­ti­fied, and there were more im­prove­ments to the in­te­rior of the church. He also had the fore­sight to be­gin a build­ing fund know­ing a new church would one day need to be built.

In the fall of 1935, Fa­ther Cos­man was trans­ferred and Rev. Neville Anderson be­came the par­ish priest. That fall the St. An­gela’s Con­vent was es­tab­lished.

Times were tough in the 1930’s in Drumheller and in­deed, through­out the world, how­ever, the church was in need of a new church as it had be­come de­lap­i­dated. They were able to trade some of its ex­ist­ing prop­erty west of the wye for a site for a new church and work be­gan in 1938. A par­ish priest in Banff de­signed the church and Stan­ley Camp­bell was the con­trac­tor.

It was a com­mu­nity ef­fort. Mother Ber­nice and the Sis­ters made the drapes and ta­pes­tries. Mr. Chiari­eri con­structed the pews, Joe LeFe­bre made the wall brack­ets for the stat­ues, Joseph Guidolin made the cross and Mr. W. Hodg­son of Dorothy carved the oak Cor­pus for the al­tar cru­ci­fix. The old church be­came a par­ish hall.

In 1942, a home was pur­chased and be­came the new rec­tory. In 1949, the for­mer church was sold to McPher­son Mo­tors, and the next year a new hall was built.

On De­cem­ber 20, 1952, fire ripped through the church. The Mail re­ported that George Der­byshire turned in the alarm shortly af­ter 1 a.m. and two fire­fight­ers were in­jured. It was es­ti­mated that nearly 60 per cent of the in­te­rior was de­stroyed.

In 1957, a new ad­di­tion was added to the church, which in­cluded the bell tower and bap­tis­tery.

The church has been busy pre­par­ing to mark the cen­ten­nial. Rose Porter has been head­ing up the pro­ject. They are plan­ning a church direc­tory. They have also posted a gallery of priests in the foyer of the church.

As part of the cel­e­bra­tion, the church is host­ing “Moun­tain Do,” a day of fun and fel­low­ship with the priest of the Cal­gary Dio­cese in­clud­ing a soc­cer game.

The Church is also plan­ning a lun­cheon to mark 100 years come Au­gust.

St. An­thony’s is cel­e­brat­ing 100 years in the val­ley and are mak­ing plans to mark the oc­ca­sion.

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