Holy rosary

Holy Rosary Shrine near Reward, Sask. turns 90.

The Church and the Sanctuary of the Holy Rosary need major restoration work.

REWARD, Sask. — In the center of St. Joseph’s settlement, near Reward, stands a historic monument visible for miles. The Holy Rosary Shrine and Catholic Church have been the subject of many Saskatchewan photographers and social media photography pages.

Despite its declining appearance, parishioners and locals remain committed to the longevity of the church and sanctuary. As we approach the 90th anniversary of the Holy Rosary, scheduled for a day full of celebrations on July 10, concerns about the deterioration of the exterior and interior are high, as is the determination of committed individuals who are doing everything what they can to ensure a future for this beautiful structure. and place of worship.

The beginnings of the parish of Saint-Rosaire were difficult. The land was donated and the original church was built in 1911. Several years later in 1918 under the direction of Fr. Bieler, with the donations and hard work of German and Russian pioneers, the original church was replaced with a larger church.

Pr. Groetschel organized the first pilgrimage to the Holy Rosary in 1932 with 3,000 people present. At this time the bishop was brought from two miles away, traveling in a carriage drawn by white horses.

In 1932 the Outer Shrine was built. It was a wooden structure closed on three sides. Thirty-two years later, a brick structure replaces it. A canopy was added in the late 1970s and from there continued improvements to the pitch took place. The custom to this day is the procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Blessing to the shrine.

“For 90 years, people have gathered at the shrine as a place of pilgrimage, prayer and fellowship,” said committee member Leanne Clarke.

The committee expresses its appreciation for donations over the years for major site maintenance projects. The cemetery cross, all windows, entrance doors, front steps and wheelchair ramp have all been upgraded. New picnic tables and a statue of Mary have also been restored.

Unfortunately the elements have taken their toll on the church and there is severe deterioration.

“Today we are in a position where serious decisions have to be made,” Clarke says.

The Holy Rosary committee is made up of Clarke as chair, Sheila Grant as secretary, and committee members Stephen Kloster, Whitey (Rodney) Krachtmer, Chris Birn, and Kim Herbst.

Regular services are held in the summer, beginning May 15 and continuing until September 15, every second Saturday, presided over by the priest of St. Peter, Fr. Greg Roth. Attendance varies between 30 and 100 per service. The first mass of 2022 saw 75 on the pews.

This historic church with its beautiful interior has also hosted weddings over the years for couples who want a unique wedding, many with ties to the church or the surrounding community.

COVID reduced their income, as the church was unable to hold in-person events.

The committee hopes that past and present parishioners, area residents, and those who appreciate the history and heritage of the Shrine and Church of the Holy Rosary will help defray the repair costs.

The carpenter who completed reconstruction work on the main entrance steps in 2022 told the committee that if the remaining work was not repaired this year, the building and the shrine would be at risk of being beyond repair.

A church restoration group started some of the work with a strict budget, but the committee knows they don’t have the money to complete the project.

Preservation is a priority

Preservation is important and the committee said no concerns were raised about the viability or reality of repair. Donations should not only come in the form of dollars and cents, as physical labor has been beneficial in the past.

Many people who have a lifelong relationship with the church and the shrine say the place is near and dear to their hearts and they remain committed to seeing the repairs done.

Visitors who have attended the church for the first time as a wedding guest or other service have noticed the sense of community that pervades the place. History and respect for tradition and ancestors is also another reason why the group remains committed.

Hosting an in-person 90th anniversary celebration is one way the organizing committee hopes to draw a crowd and they can see for themselves the concerns about the future of Holy Rosary.

The shrine’s 90th anniversary celebration includes a full day of activities on July 10. The event begins with Adoration and Confession at 2 p.m., followed by the Rosary and Marian hymns. Bishop Mark Hagemoen presides over the mass. A barbecue dinner will follow with a free will offering and there will be a large tent on the grounds for socializing afterwards. To help raise funds, a silent auction will also be part of the day’s activities. Bill Romanowski of the Knights of Columbus offers rides to the day’s events. Call 306-228-7991.

The replica of the Church of the Holy Rosary by M. Kappel comes out every year for the pilgrimage and will be displayed for this event (see photo).

Donations to help with preservation efforts can be forwarded to: Holy Rosary Shrine, Box 1536, Unity S0K 4L), Etransfer is also accepted by emailing Holyrosaryshrine90@gmail.com (password mamamary90). Tax receipts are available.