BARRY’S BAY – The bell at St. Hedwig’s parish rang 100 times and 100 candles were lit around the baptismal font for the church’s 100 anniversary on June 1.
The first Polish-Kashub church was actually built on Siberia Road, two miles from the Village of Barry’s Bay.
As the community grew, the need for a bigger church became apparent. Land was acquired in the present location and in May 1914, work began on the church. In 1916, work began on clearing and preparing land for the cemetery near the parish.
This past Sunday, children dressed in traditional Polish and Kashubian attire greeted parishioners and distributed a souvenir pamphlet.
The Knights of Columbus provided an honour guard for Bishop Michael Mulhall and numerous priests and pastors that day.
Bishop Mulhall blessed the church, reciting the Rite of Crowning to commemorate the anniversary. He also provided the homily as he talked about gratitude and the history of the church.
“It was the desire of people to have Christ present in their community,” he said.
Bishop Mulhall talked about all the sacraments that were celebrated in the church over the years.
“How often, driving by, that parishioners been able to know that Christ is present?” he said.
A copy of the new book Sto Lat: One Hundred years of faith at St. Hedwig’s Parish was presented to Mulhall. It symbolized the offering to God of 100 years of life of the parish and its parishioners.
Following mass, parishioners made their way to the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre, where they were treated to a hearty lunch prepared by Debbie Olsheskie.
Marek Milan emceed the event and welcomed everyone to the celebrations. As people enjoyed their meal, Milan sang traditional Polish and Kashubian songs.
When it came to the speeches, Milan introduced the dozens of priest and religious dignitaries in attendance. He said many priests have been ordained at the church, including current parish priest Fr. Chris Shalla.
Milan acknowledged several Sisters of St. Joseph, including Sr. Rosenda Brady, Sr. Theresa Lepack, Sr. Pamela Bennett, Sr. Margaret Blake and Sr. Kathleen O’Neill.
Sr. O’Neill is the administrator of Sisters of St. Joseph and told the crowd gathered that the sisters have been actively involved in Barry’s Bay since 1928. Many of them were teachers who served at local schoolhouses and others worked in the hospital.
She offered the church a monetary gift on behalf of the sisters.
Next up, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski brought greetings on behalf of himself and MP Cheryl Gallant.
He talked about the area’s ancestors who ensured that there was a parish in the community.
Get your June 4, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read more of this story.