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Hyas church remembered with unveiling of historic marker

Prior to St. Anne’s Church being built, priests visited the area and masses were said in family homes.

The official unveiling and dedication of an historical roadside marker at the former site of the St. Joseph (better known as St Anne’s) Roman Catholic Church, which was located southeast of Hyas, was held on August 8, followed by a social and time for story telling at the farm residence of Matt and Sylvia Lozinski of Hyas.

The church served the spiritual community in the region for 45 years, according to information provided by the Historical Marker Committee for the mission of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church.

“The marker and plaque is a dedication to our Polish Ancestors, who braved the harshest of elements with their families and sacrificed every thing they had in Galicia (Eastern Europe) - family, friends and their possessions so as to start a new life in a new land. Their hope was to provide greater opportunities for their children. They ventured out with only their courage, their determination and their faith in God to guide them. We, their descendants have much for which to be thankful. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We must remember where they came from, why they came and the sacrifices they made in our behalf.”

The committee consisted of: Kenneth and Lauri Lozinski of Hyas, Matt and Sylvia Lozinski of Hyas, Nestor Kindrasky and Rob Kindrasky of Yorkton, Lewis and Gloria Lozinski of Yorkton, and Ben Lozinski and Larry Lozinski of Saskatoon.

The following information regarding the history of the church was provided by the committee.

“The spiritual life of the settlers and their families, who settled in the eastern part of the District of Assiniboia, came under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert, which was established in 1891. Where they settled became known as the Mission of St. Patrick and between the years of 1895 and 1916, was served by Rev. Julius Decorby, O.M.I., who ministered to the spiritual needs of the settlers in the area, from St. Philips near Kamsack. After 1916, this mission was taken over by the Redemptorist Fathers from Yorkton until July 15, 1934, at which time St. Patrick’s Mission became a parish located at Sturgis with five missions attached to it. St. Anne’s Mission was one of them.

“When St. Anne’s Church was built in 1923, and the land, which was being donated by Michael and Agnes Lozinski, was being transferred to the Prince Albert Roman Catholic Diocese, it was given the name of St. Joseph’s. However, the members of the mission began to celebrate the Feast of St. Anne as it fell in July and they soon adopted St. Anne as their primary patron saint, and very soon it became better known as St. Anne’s Church.

“Prior to St. Anne’s Church being built, priests visited the area and masses were said in family homes as well as in the Moss Lake School after it was built in 1912. For many years priests’ visits for masses occurred several times a year. After the church was built in 1923, masses were said once every month.

“In about 1937 St. Anne’s Mission began to experience some problems, as part of the mission was beginning to drift toward Norquay, especially during the winter months, when road conditions became somewhat of a challenge.

“Over those years, many sisters from well-established parishes like Yorkton and Regina came to St. Anne’s to help prepare the children for confirmation. Sisters from the Sacred Heart Academy in Regina with the help of lay teachers taught summer vacation school to the mission children. Several families in the mission provided accommodations and meals for the sisters, as well as for priests, whenever they visited. Some of the families included Michael and Agnes Lozinski, Mike and Julia Lozinski, Joseph and Helen Lozinski, Joseph and Anna Lozinski, Michael and Zonia Zawislak, Martin and Katherine Zawislak and Theresa Kindrasky. There may have been others as well.

The priest that is credited with organizing the erection of the church was Rev. Joseph Knapik CSsR. The materials used consisted of all lumber on a concrete foundation. Although most of the labour was volunteer, Frank Nowakowski and his two sons Ben and Stanley from Rama were employed to supervise the construction.

“The lumber for construction was purchased on April 30, 1923, on a promissory note of $1,296.75 made to the Northern Lumber Company of Hyas, and another promissory note for $600 to the same company on October 1, 1924. These notes were signed by Joseph K. Lozinski, J. F. Grywacheski, Walter Derkatch, Mike Lozinski, Kazimir Lozinski, Michael Lozinski, Walter Grywacheski, M. Zawislak, and Theresa Kindrasky. Soon after, another note was made out for $400.  By paying equal amounts, the notes were paid off.

“The new church was blessed by the Most Rev. Joseph Prud’homme, Bishop of Prince Albert on Sept. 8, 1923. Thereafter, masses were held monthly. The interior of the church was redecorated in 1943 by Mr. Harry Sye, who was from the Ukraine.

“After the church was built, it provided an opportunity for some firsts. The first baptism in the new mission church was that of Anne (nee Lozinski) Adams, daughter of Mike and Julia, on St. Anne’s Day, July 26, 1923. The first marriage recorded in the mission church was that of Joseph Lozinski and Helen Markevich on November 4, 1923. The first funeral mass from the mission church was that of Rozala Derkach (Genoway), wife of Walter Derkatch in March 1925. The first confirmation class was administered on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1923 by Most Rev. Joseph Prud’homme, Bishop of Prince Albert.

“Between the time when the mission was founded and when the church was built in 1923 there were 293 baptisms, 62 marriages and 36 funerals. When the mission was opened, the number of families was 10 with a total of 60 souls. By 1955 those numbers increased to 22 families and 82 souls.
“The mission hall was built by volunteers in July 1940 on the same property. Its dimensions were 22 feet by 60 feet, and it was better known as the Warszawa Hall. Many Saturday night dances were sponsored by the church board to raise additional funds. It served the spiritual community very well as a place to gather and serve meals out of the direct sun on special Feast Day celebrations.

“In 1921, under the leadership of Agnes Lozinski, the ladies of St. Joseph’s under the guidance of Father Knapik formed a Rosary Society with Apolonia Lozinski as president, Julia Lozinski as Vice-president, and Agnes Lozinski as secretary-treasurer. The Rosary is a series of prayers in honor of Our Blessed Mother. The Rosary Society is composed of fifteen ladies. Since the Rosary consists of 5 Joyful Mysteries, 5 Sorrowful Mysteries, and 5 Glorious Mysteries which commemorate some event in the life of Our Lord or His Blessed Mother, each lady recited one mystery a day during the month, thus quoting a complete mystery each day. The mysteries were exchanged each month.     

“Mrs. Nellie Lozinski, assisted by Joseph Twerdochlib and Frank Grywacheski, provided special religious instruction to children after regular school hours and during vacation school sessions. Joseph K. Lozinski and Joseph Twerdochlib were considered as lay leaders by the priests that served the mission.

“Several of the men and women of the community served in the armed forces during WW II: Pvt. John Zawislak, Pvt. Walter Grywacheski, Pvt. Frank W. Lozinsky and Kate Grywacheski were in the Canadian Army. William Twerdochlib served in the Canadian Navy. Mary Milewski, Albert Twerdochlib and Laddie Grywacheski were in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Sgt. Chester Milewski was an instructor in the RCAF.

“From when we first began thinking about erecting an historical roadside marker commemorating our early day Polish pioneers, who worked so hard to create a community more promising for their children, we were thinking about succeeding generations of their descendants. We were hoping that we could reach those third, fourth and fifth generations of their descendants to impress upon them that they must not forget where they came from. They must research and remember their roots. They must remember the sacrifices that their ancestors made to help us grow in our faith and help make our lives more comfortable, more interesting, more fulfilling, and more productive in terms of helping to make this world a better place than what it was when we lived here. Our hope, too, was that their descendants and our descendants would always remember the words of Jesus, when he said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me,’ John 14-6.”