Reward parish celebrates
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
REWARD, Sask. — Residents
and former residents, their descendents and family members joined together
at the site of the historic Holy Rosary Church south of the hamlet of
Reward, Sask. July 10 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment
of the parish.
included prayers in the historic church building, celebration of the
eucharist at the outdoor shrine, a program of speakers and entertainment,
sale of souvenirs, and supper on the site.
Serving the surrounding St.
Joseph's Colony as the site of an annual pilgrimage to the shrine of
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary since 1932, the parish itself was established
During the anniversary celebration,
masters of ceremony Charles Boser and Ernie Greter, along with speaker
Al Greter presented the history of the community and parish in poem
“In the words of one
pioneer, we often admired the wild flowers and thought about the amount
of dirt they had to go through in order to blossom and bloom,”
related Ernie Greter, reflecting on the hardships encountered by the
German-Russian settlers who came to the area after St. Joseph Colony
was established in 1905.
The first church building
was a 40- by 28-foot structure built at a cost of $1,300. The present
church was constructed on 10 acres of donated land in 1918 for $12,000.
The “church on the hill” is a designated historic site,
and contains 15 paintings completed in 1928 by Count Berthold Von Imhoff,
depicting the 15 mysteries of the rosary.
In 1932 the priests of St.
Joseph's Colony were asked by Bishop Prud'homme to arrange an annual
pilgrimage in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Holy Rosary Church
at Reward chosen at the site because of its central location. The first
pilgrimage July 16, 1932 saw 3,000 pilgrims travel to the site, congregating
a half mile south for a procession to the shrine and greeted by the
ringing of the church bells. A wooden outdoor grotto was built as the
shrine in 1936, with the present shrine altar built in 1966.
John Zunti, OMI, who was born and raised in the area, presided
at the 100th anniversary mass, and was also guest speaker during the
“For 100 years at this
particular spot on our huge planet, this has been a place of celebration
of our faith — a faith which we have received from our families,”
“We are all truly thankful
for the legacy of faith, prayer and way of life that our parents and
grandparents, friends and neighbours have handed on to us,” he
said. “The sacrifices that many of them made and the hardships
they endured were possible only because of their faith and commitment
Like Abraham in the Hebrew
Scriptures, the German-Russian Catholic settlers left their homes and
ventured into a new land. “God's peace stayed with them and his
understanding love guided their hearts and their minds,” said
Zunti. “They were like the branches of the true vine of God, Jesus
In his talk after mass, Zunti
shared memories of growing up in the parish and of the faith formation
received there. “Our times in the church were a huge contribution
to our way of life.”
The day after the 100th anniversary
celebration, the 79th annual pilgrimage to the shrine at Reward was
held, involving parishes from throughout the St. Joseph's Colony area.
Rev. Gerard Cooper of St. Peter's parish in Unity officiated at the July 11 pilgrimage, which included exposition of the blessed sacrament in the shrine church, the sacraments of reconciliation and anointing of the sick, praying the rosary, benediction, a parade of parish banners, mass, and supper.