By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Parishioners, former parishioners and their families gathered together June 11, 2022 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. Michael Catholic Church, constructed in 1922 at Tramping Lake, in the heart of St. Joseph’s Colony.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen celebrated Mass to open the celebration, joined by St. Michael pastor Fr. Gregory Roth of Unity, Fr. Edward Gibney of Biggar, Fr. Santhosh Thekkekulam, VC, of Wilkie, and retired diocesan priest Msgr. Raymond Senger, who is originally from Tramping Lake. Fr. Dan Yasinski of Kerrobert was also in attendance.
Music ministry was led by Marie Volk, with a choir that included many returning community and family members. Cantor was James Nestmann, and Donalda Senger and Alicia Simon were readers for the Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.
“This is indeed a beautiful church,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen, as he joined the community in celebrating and thanking God for 100 years of faith and service. “On the Feast of the Trinity we celebrate how God is made manifest to us,” the bishop said. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are revealed in the readings for the solemnity, he said, and also in the life, mission and ministry of the parish over the past 100 years. “It is a deep relationship, not merely a membership.”
The theme of gratitude and mission also echoed in the prayers of intention during the anniversary Mass, presented by Alicia Simon.
“Let us give thanks that for the past century, the St. Michael’s Church spire has encouraged us to look heavenward. Under the shelter of its steeple, the bell tolled in mourning and sadness, pealed happily, sharing joy and gladness, and rang with the call to community prayer. Under its roof many found inspiration to continue life’s journey, and others celebrated joyous occasions,” she prayed.
“Today we remember and pray for all who had the foresight and charity to offer prayers, time, talents and finances to build, furnish and maintain this building, providing a place where all may come to adore, praise and grow in the love of God,” continued the community prayers, which went on to call upon on the intercession of both St. Michael, the patron saint of the parish, and St. Joseph, the patron saint of the historic St. Joseph’s Colony, established in 1905 by a group of German Catholics from Russia.
Although the present St. Michael Church building was built a century ago in 1922, the parish was first established 16 years earlier when the colony itself began, those in attendance heard during history of the parish presented by Gwen Barschel at a banquet in the community hall that followed the anniversary Mass.
In those early days of the parish, Mass was celebrated in homes, in a tent and then in a sod church built in 1906, before a wooden church building was constructed in 1910. In 1921, the pastor of the Tramping Lake congregation, Fr. Theodore Krist, OMI, led the community in planning for a new church in the Village of Tramping Lake, with construction starting June 15, 1922, and the first Mass celebrated in the new building on Christmas Eve, 1922.
The new Romanesque-style church building was 135 by 50 feet – the largest brick church in St. Joseph’s Colony, situated at the colony’s geographical centre, Barschel noted. The cost to build was between $40,000 and $48,000 – the equivalent cost today would be about $685,000 to $822,000, she said.
“All built by volunteers, it is a church still admired far and wide for its beauty,” Barschel said.
Over the years, construction and improvements continued, with the completion of the steeple, exterior finishing in white stucco, interior painting and the addition of statues, artwork and a huge 22- by 11-foot altar, built along the back wall of the sanctuary, designed in Italian Renaissance style using Italian white marble, flanked by pedestals capped with Belgian black marble. One-third life size stations of the cross were purchased in 1970 from St. Joseph Church in Winnipeg, and brought to St. Michael’s in a parishioner’s half-ton truck.
The 100th anniversary program also included greetings from Tramping Lake Mayor Christine Lang, and representatives of the Catholic Women’s League and Knights of Columbus, before parishioners and visitors were invited to share memories and messages via an “open microphone.”
Video of 100th Anniversary Mass and Presentations: