So I bought this book about my parish's history...
Some of the kids and I went went to our community's semi-annual used book sale. I love the sale, and we get tons of good stuff there. It saves me a bundle from my book budget for homeschooling, anyway!

We were about the leave when I spotted a vaguely-familiar green covered book on a table. I picked it up, and then realized it was one of the few existing copies of our parish's history, written for it's 100th anniversary back in the 80's. For $4, I was very happy to give it a new home!

I've spent the afternoon thumbing through the book and a few things immediately jumped out at me:

- my parish used to have an amazing parish social life! Sewing clubs, a brass band, baseball and hockey teams, social supper clubs, weddings and anniversary's galore, young adults clubs, Daughters of Mary, Cub Scouts and Girl Guides, Legion of Mary, penny carnivals, ... I could keep going! It breaks my heart that none of this exists anymore. The photos of happy families with 4, 5, 6 or more children, 40th wedding anniversaries with a couple and their 40 or so descendants, halls filled with young people having supper, troupes of children proudly wearing their scouting/guiding uniforms, all of their packmates Catholics...

- at one point our altar boy guild had over 50 boys! And just boys! I think we have about 6 of them these days, and three of them are girls.

- the dignity of the priests in the front of the book (the 1880-1920's) is in start contrast to the polyester-clad hippies at the back of the book. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

- our parish (along with the Ukrainian-rite parish) was once large enough to support not one, not two but THREE Catholic schools. Additionally, the Polish church also ran it's own school. We only have one school now, and while it often has waiting lists to get in it's a far cry from supporting three schools.

- one of those schools has virtually been obliterated from the record, with very few details publically available, virtually all of the hearsay. This despite it closing only about 20 or so years ago.

- our parish had a parcel of land attached to this disappearing school for the eventual building of another parish. It never happened. The land was since sold off and infill housing was build up in there in the 90's-2000s (prior to my moving to this community in 2005 anyway).

- we used to have a Catholic cemetery in town, but it was sold off to the city "for ease of maintenance and efficiency in administering". I always thought it odd that we didn't have one, and now I know why.

- Renovations started in the summer of 1965. From the book: "[the architect] whose recommendations were largely followed in this project, felt that the sanctuary could not afford  all the statuary that was present. [...] so much statuary spoiled the sanctuary. [...]" Other things done during the renovation: removal of obsolete candle holders at each of the Stations, removal of statues and brackets on walls of sanctuary, extension of predella for new altar,  and the removal of Communion rail.

- the first "folk Mass" was celebrated March 23, 1969.

Anyway, it's a wonderful book chock-full of photos that gives me a glimpse into the history of my parish, and a witness to the changes that occurred over the century it covers.

                                                                              Sadly  that's happened hundreds of times in the US and Canada. The altar was too big so it had to go, there were too many statues so most of them had to go. The stainglass windows needed replacing with psychedelic colored ones. The altar railing was removed.
Good save!

I don't see how anyone could read that book, see what you had in the past compared to now and not think that maybe---just maybe--the folks in the past were doing something right and we screwed something up along the way....

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