Sunday, April 24, 2011

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be

Our parish is celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of the construction of our church building. A rededication is coming up in June and I have been given the assignment of compiling a booklet to be distributed in commemoration of the event. The deadline is quickly approaching and I am feeling the pressure to get it finished. One of our parishioners helped me greatly by researching old newspapers that followed the progress of construction a century ago. I sit here bemoaning the fact that I have this extremely difficult task of sitting on my soft cushy chair in front of the computer, copying and pasting pictures and articles about my ancestors working with teams of horses to move sand, brick and mortar in the heat of a hot summer with no air conditioning, power tools, or hydraulic lifts.

What a monumental task it must have been to undertake such a project in those days. Not only did they build this beautiful brick Romanesque church, they also constructed a four-room school across the street at the same time. What did it take to move forward with such a project in 1910? They started with $5000, and carried a $40,000 mortgage for twenty years. I doubt that one of the stained glass windows could be replaced for $45,000 today.

Times have certainly changed. As technology has made life so much easier, somehow it seems more difficult to get things accomplished. I cannot even imagine our parish taking on such a project today. Money is always an issue. Our quality of life has improved greatly, but at a price. We no longer gather as teams to roll up sleeves and tackle laborious projects. I suppose the Amish people still do to an extent with their barn raisings. Such an atmosphere existed here when our church was constructed one hundred years ago. The records tell of parishioners gathering on Easter Sunday 1910 after Mass to begin tearing down the old frame church. The new building was completed and ready for the first Mass by Easter 1911.

On this Easter Sunday in 2011, we are blessed to prepare for a second century of worship in our beautiful church. There have been a few changes. The exterior remains pretty much the same except for an access ramp added a few years ago. The interior has undergone several renovations, some good, some not so good. The stained glass windows are as beautiful and colorfully vivid as the day they were installed. The liturgy looks a little different, but the Sacrifice of the Mass is still the same Sacrifice of Calvary, made present for us every day. Some things never change.