A Histrory of St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Wabamun, Alberta
By Darlene Brusnyk
- In the years prior t0 1940, Catholics in the Wabamun area attende mass twice
a month in private homes or the chapel located about one hundred yards east of the Indian Agent residence on the Paul Band
Reserve. Reverend Father Keenan received permission from all the Band People to move the chapel to Wabamun. The move was made
in the wintertime when the ice was thick enough to support such endeavor. Lot Thirty --two (32) in Block (6) was the new home
for the chapel. Renovations and an addition were made. The newly remodeled chapel was completed in 1934. The parishioners
used materials that were available at that time. They also received financial assistance from the Catholic Extension Society
of Toronto. A twenty-five (25) foot lot for the twenty-four (24) foot wide church had no room for expansion.
- On Sepptember 1, 1960, the church was moved again to Lot B-1. Interior renovations were made
in 1961 and funded by St. Joseph's Catholic Women Leage (CWL). In 1973, an addition was completed. The new basemnt had a restroom,
kitchenette, furnace room, storage area, and an outside entrance. The meeting area was used for Catechism instruction, studies,
and meetings of the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) and CWL. On the main floor, the extended area made possible a choir loft,a
cry room, a small entrance,sacristy, and addition pews in the sanctuary.
- Wabamun, being a very busi center in the summertime, caused an overcrowded church and was blessed
with two celebrations of the Eucharist - on Saturday evening in addi
- tion to the regular Sunday morning Mass. Large crowds attended special events, especially weddings,
funerals, First Holy Communion. Confirmation, Christmas and Easter. Repairs and maintenance of the church building were constantly
being made. Finally, upon an inspectionof the floor and walls, the Parish Pastoral Council decided it was time to build a
new structure. Many beautiful plans were drawn up but always ended being too costly.
- Due to the shortage of priests, the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton decided to close some parishes
aand amalgamate smaller ones with larger communities. St. Joseph's in Wabamun was scheduled to close in August 1999. God had
different plans and they're not always the plans of the learned or wise, as it revealed.
- A strong-willed and dedicated priest came to serve our parish on May 13, 1994. Up until that
time, we hoped to build a new church. We were fund raising to that end. Reverend Father Stan Blaszkowski saw the need and
convinced Archbishop Joseph N. MacNeil of Edmonton that a simple building could be possible. Vote was taken after Mass on
Sunday, and the majority of parishioners wre in favor of the new building.
- The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton is in charge of all the Roman Catholic churches in its area.
Building plans, paperwork, and procedures must be in accordance with the guidlines set forth by the Archdiocese. There are
rules and regulations of prime importance.They protect the parish in all its endeavors. The parishioners of "Mary, Help of
Christians" (Chinese) Catholic Parish of Edmonton, especially their pastor Fr. Joe, were very generous to us - they were building
a new church and they gave their ald pews, chairs and tables to us. What a beautiful and much appreciated gifts they were>
On October 2, 1998, three of our parish familie loaded trucks and trailers with all the pews, chairs and tables they could
haul.They stored these beautiful articles of furniture at Mr.& Mrs. Don Drews' empty building until it was time to setup
in our new church.
- The paperwork and plans were finally completed. Approval came from the Archbishop Joseph N. MacNeil
and construction was underway in June 1999. Everyone in Wabamun watched progress. Several of us became avid photographers.
Many photos were taken in duplicate for fear that we didn't get the best shot.
- In the beginning of December, the building was ready for the painters. Every parishioner who
could hold a paintbrush or roller, painted with gusto and cheer! We didn't have to paint the ceilings, but the peaks,
four of them, were assigned to the people who had no fear of heights.
- When the painting was finished, the rugs were laid. After the rugs were completed, the pews,
chairs, and tables were hauled in. Cleaning, sanding, washing, and polishing the pews required addedelbow grease. All parishioners
who could help with the task worked with joy. When the pews were lined up and put in place, it was time to move the altar,
tabernacle, banners and all other necessities from the old church to the new. Some nostalgia overcame some of us as we remembered
what once was. Everyone carried what he or she could, and more, until the move was completed.
- Our new church was finally ready for the first celebration of the Eucharist. What a time it was!
December 22, 1999, the winter solstice, a full moon, the beginning of the Jubilee Year 200, and the moon's closest distance
to the Earth - all made a most memorable event!
- Forty (40) is a number that appears often in the Bible.Forty years in the desert, forty days
Lent and forty days to Pentecost Sundayare very notablereferences to the number forty (40). The St. Joseph's parishioners
of Wabamunwaited, hoped, prayed, planned and raised funds for the new church. The beautiful old building encasing Jesus, the
most precious gift from God, was aging gracefully and needed to be replaced. No more additions or renovations could restore
the aging timbers. Our dream of a new church took forty years to become reality.
- The Christmas Eve celebration of the Eucharist was attended by so many people that every possible
seat was occupied. The joy and presence of God was experienced by all.
- The new Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton consecrated our church on March 5, 200. The Knights of Columbus from Stony
Plain formed a "Guard of Honor"and some founding CWL members were also in the procession. Our pastor Fr. Stan and one
of the former pastors Fr. Martin Carroll were concelebrating the pontifical Mass. A very large crowd of people witnessed
the pageantry, regalia and beauty. We were all ecstatic and overjoyed. When we observed the church beinganointed with the
Holy Chrism, the powerful presence of God was overwhelming. After Mass, a gathering of numerous past and present parishioners
at the Wabamun Community Hall across the street from the church, allowed many old friendships to be rekindled and old
memories to be reminisced.
- Our new church is a wooden, single story, 3696 square foot structure with sanctuary that seats one hundred aand twenty
(120) people and an overflow area (church hall) that can accomodate another one hundred (100) persons. . The sacristy
is on left side and the reconcilaition room on the right side of the altar. A small kitchen,, two restrooms, an entrance area,,
and a furnace room complete the building. On March 28, 2000, the antique bell from the old church was installed in the steeple,
topped with a cross signifying God's house. The steeple was donated by our parishioner and architect of our church Mr. Walter
- What a wonderful Jubilee! Many prayers were unswered and many more will be prayed. We must never forget that the church
is a gift-wrpping for the most precious gift God gave us. Jesus is the reason we pray, we love, we worship, and try to live
like Christians in the world tha can so easily be overcome by materialism.
- The dedicated priests who served our needs from the beginning of the century (1900) were Reverend Fathers: Louie, Beaudry,
Keenan, Elkin, Heffernan, Stewrt, Roberts, Sullivan, Becs, Klug, B.G. MacInnis, Leo Cordeau, Martin Carroll, Doyle, Len Gartner,
John Hesse, Basil Butts,Gordon Roebuck, Stan Blaszkowski and now Andrew Rybak.
- Our Mission was part of the Stony Plain-Spruce Grove Parish until 1970. That year we became a Mission of St. Elizabeth
Parisah, Evansburg. In the year 2000 we became a Mission of St. Rose of Lima Parish,Onoway. In July 2000, St. Joseph's Parish
in Wabamun became responsible for own finances, evangelization and reapirs and maintence. Our parish priest is Rev. Fr. Ray
Guimond who also serves the churches of St.Agnes, Mayerthorpe, St. Rose of Lima,Onoway and Our lady of Lourdes,
Lac la Nonne. When in 2002 Fr.Stan became pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish,Onoway he became again our pastor. Since August
8, 2006 ou new pastor is Piarist Father Andrew Rybak.
- The painting of the Ascension of the Lord, the stained glass window above the entrance and all banners are the labors
of love of Mrs. Maxine Halder. The many talents God has given to all of us, we use to give Him glory.
- Many donations and works of art have made the interior of our church very meaningful. The stations of the Cross were crafted
in St. Lauryens, Belgium in 1830. They were donated to the Rene Matthys family in 1930. Mr. Matthys donated the works of art
to St. Dominic Catholic church at Duffield. When the church closed in 1968, the Stations of the Cross found a new home in
the church of St. Joseph at Wabamun. The statue of the Infant Child of Prague was donated to St. Dominic's, then moved to
Wabamun in 1968. Mrs. Paul Wagner (Hedwig) brought the statue from Germany in 1907 when she immigrated to Canada. In 1990,
Our Lady of Fatima statue was donated to St. Joseph's church by the Ben Wagner family in memory of Ben Wagner.
- During his tenure as parish councilor, Ken Denis built a new altar, baptismal font and an altar for the tabernacle. The
prcessional cross and the lecturn (ambo) were jubilee gifts of Rev. Fr. Stan Blaszkowski, who also donated ornamental glas
for church windows. Hugh King built the Calvary Cross. Peter Schiller arranged for and installed the kitchen cabinets and
Hugh King helped him with the plumbing. Peter also built the closets and cupboerds in the sacristy.
- The kitchen appliances were all donated. Lisa and Harvey Seguin gave the fridge and stove. Mrs. Germaine Schiller gave
the microwave oven and Jocelyn Wigggins gave the dishwasher.
- The architects of our Jubilee Project were Walter Spatowski, Becker, El Zein and Associates Ltd. of Edmonton. The constructor
was Shaul Construction Ltd of Stony Plain, who also hired ten subconstructors.