Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Wow an Inspiring Glimpse into the Life of the Catholic Church from Years Gone By in the US - VIDEO



Wouldn’t it be nice if we could live close to our parish church? 
How about right across the street from the church, the parish school, and the rectory? And two houses from the convent?
 I was very fortunate and blessed growing up in the 1960s and 1970s because that was my experience at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church located in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan.

(Image circa 1885-6, BC, MI)
I witnessed parishioners coming and going from Mass, baptisms, First Confessions, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, weddings, and funerals. The school was the scene of Christmas plays, athletic games, May Crownings, homecomings, and graduations.
(Watch the short video below and be Inspired to Live Your Faith!)

 (pic. below 1946)


I saw it all.
On any given snowy winter morning I could peer out the bay window of our living room towards the front door of the convent, anxiously waiting for the Mother Superior to open it. You see, if she stuck her foot out onto the porch and the snow was above the top of her shoe, she would cancel school for the day.
Another occasion for a free day from school was if the high school football team won a game, our pastor Father Gerald Owens gave us the following Monday off. It was a nice incentive for the team to try extra hard.
A tradition still practiced at the high school is before every football game, the team and coaches pray the Memorare together at the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto. 


When I was young, out of town games were not broadcast on the radio too often, so my family anxiously waited for the bus to arrive. Upon arrival, if the players were quiet, we knew we had lost. If they were screaming and jumping all about, we knew we had won.
Some of my fondest experiences were singing in the parish boy choir with Calvert Shenk in the 1970s. I am too young to remember the Tridentine Mass, but I loved singing Gregorian chant as a boy. And I still do! On summer days I could hear Cal practice the organ from my front yard and occasionally ran to the church to hear the music better through the open window.
Other fond memories were with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who were out of Monroe, Michigan. Before starting first grade, I occasionally went to the convent to play marbles on the back porch with Sister Marie Loretta. Once in school, the Sisters instructed me in all aspects of the Catholic faith and in academics.

I was fortunate to experience all this growing up, so to honor the priests, Sisters, and parishioners who came before me and created such a wonderful environment for me to grow up in, here (in the video) are some early photos of my parish, most before my time. Several of the scenes depicted were quite common in American churches from that era, and many parishes still cling dearly to these traditions.
By: Matthew Davis, US Correspondent for Catholic News World. Matthew Davis is a lifelong resident of Battle Creek, Michigan. He is a member of St. Philip Roman Catholic Church and attended its parish school for twelve years. Having grown up directly across the street from the church and school, he takes a special interest in the history of his parish and helped organize its sesquicentennial celebration in 2013.

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