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Celebration held to mark milestone for Canora church

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Parish in Canora held a special celebration mass and dinner on Sunday, June 12, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the church on Fourth Avenue.

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Parish in Canora held a special celebration on Sunday, June 12, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the church on Fourth Avenue. 

St. Joseph’s Parish was originally established in Canora with a church built in 1916, according to Liz Bahnuik, president of the St. Joseph’s Council of the Catholic Women’s League. By the late 1950’s, Father Thomas Murray convinced the parishioners that it was possible to build a new church and a committee was formed to begin the planning. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on June 3, 1962. 

“A special blessing was given by His Grace, Archbishop M.C. O’Neill of Regina,” said Bahnuik.  “A sealed container was placed inside the cornerstone including a Parish scroll, a copy of The Canora Courier, a history of Canora and other mementos of the Town and Parish. Rev. Charles Gibney, born and raised in Canora, sang the High Mass that day. Father Isidor A. Shalla, C.S.s.R., the local parish priest at the time, gave the sermon.”

Father Shalla lived in the upper room of the church from 1962-1970. Late in 1969, the mortgage for the new church was paid off and the parish was able to purchase its first rectory just a block down the street.

Over the years since the new church was built, various priests have served St. Joseph’s Parish. They were: Fr. I.A. Shalla, 1962-1973; Fr. Thomas Novak, 1973-1976; Fr. Arthur A. Vandendriessche, 1976-1982; Fr. Peter Luttmer, 1982-88; Fr. Teodor Pajak, 1988-89; Fr. Charles Gibney, 1989-91; Fr. Teodor Pajak, 1991-95; Fr. Francis Wawryszuk, 1995-2000; Fr. Hector Seville, 2000-2005; Rev. Dr. Vitalis Azike, 2005-2011; Fr. Brian Meredith, 2011-2013; Fr. Juanito Vargas, 2013-2014; Fr. Hope Klutsey, Feb. 2014-Aug. 2014; Fr. B. Franklin Emereuwa, 2014-2020, and most recently, parishioners are being served by Father Joseph Kuruvilla since 2020.

A new roof went on the church in 2002.

The wheelchair ramp was removed two years ago, after it had deteriorated beyond repair and the cost of replacement was prohibitive. In its place, two electric chair lifts were installed.

“There were so many notable events that took place over the years,” recalled Bahnuik. “But it was likely The Mystery of the Passion of Christ, a play written by Fr. Francis Wawryszuk, MSF and directed by him for four years, that many parishioners will fondly remember, starting in 1997. It was a true project of working together with love, patience, faith, perseverance and sacrifice as a parish family alongside our neighbouring parishes of St. Anne’s in Buchanan and St. Anthony’s in Rama. The play was performed on stage in Canora during Lent each year as well as travelling to Yorkton, Saskatoon and other communities. It was no small feat travelling with a sound and stage crew, props, costumes, makeup, cast and choir, with more than 100 people involved!”

The Parish of St. Joseph’s has always had a strong presence and unending support from both the Fr. DeCorby Council Knights of Columbus and St. Joseph’s Catholic Women’s League (est. 1965), according to Bahnuik.

“The 60th Anniversary celebration on June 12 began with Fr. Joseph celebrating mass in the morning followed by a beautiful dinner and fellowship with all the parishioners adding their own special dish to the meal,” she continued. “Father Kuruvilla was also celebrating his 60th birthday on this occasion and the parishioners joined in the celebration with a special birthday cake in his honour.”

Birthday greetings were offered to Fr. Joseph on behalf of the parishioners by Valerie Caza, Parish Council Chairperson. Ken Rolheiser entertained the young and the young at heart with some interesting trivia on the history of Saint Joseph, and a video slideshow presentation, put together by Liz Bahnuik, closed the celebration.

“Thank you to everyone, past and present, who had a part to play in making each moment of these past 60 years so meaningful,” concluded Bahnuik.