Thursday, March 4, 2010

St. Casimir - Photo Round-Up: Visit to St. Isidore's Parish (South March/Kanata)

Today, the liturgy permits an optional memorial of SAINT CASIMIR, King of Poland (1458-1483).

Casimir, the second son of Casimir III, King of Poland, was born in 1458. From the custody of a very virtuous mother, Elizabeth of Austria, he passed to the guardianship of a devoted master, the learned and pious John Dugloss. Thus animated from his earliest years by precept and example, his innocence and piety soon ripened into the practice of heroic virtue.

In an atmosphere of luxury and magnificence the young prince fasted, wore a hair shirt, slept upon the bare earth, prayed by night, and watched for the opening of the church doors at dawn. He became so tenderly devoted to the Passion of Our Lord that at Mass he seemed quite rapt out of himself; his charity to the poor and afflicted knew no bounds.

His love for our Blessed Lady he expressed in a long and beautiful hymn, familiar to us in English as “Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary”. At the age of twenty-five, sick with a long illness, he foretold the hour of his death, and chose to die a virgin rather than accept the life and health which the physicians held out to him in the married state.

The miracles wrought by his body after death fill an entire volume. The blind saw, the lame walked, the sick were healed, a dead girl was raised to life. At one time the Saint in glory, seen in the air by his army, led his Catholic countrymen to battle and delivered them by a wondrous victory from the schismatic Russian hosts.

One hundred and twenty-two years after his death Saint Casimir’s tomb in the cathedral church of Vilna was opened, that the holy remains might be transferred to the rich marble chapel where it now lies. The place was damp, and the very vault crumbled away in the hands of the workmen; yet the Saint’s body, wrapped in robes of silk, still intact, was found whole and incorrupt, and emitting a sweet fragrance which filled the church and refreshed all who were present. Under his head was found his hymn to Our Lady, which he had had buried with him.

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Father Virgil Amirthakumar and Deacon Des Adams head up the team at St. Isidore's

St. Isidore's has a long history, having begun in 1836 as the "Mission in March", attached to St. Patrick's Parish in Fallowfield, and whose log cabin was blessed in 1840 by Mgr Bourget of Montreal.

The parish is currently planning the construction of a new church to meet the needs of a growing parish, anticipating future growth. Besides three Masses celebrated in the Church on Saturday at 5PM and on Sunday at 8:30 and 11:30, a Mass that can accommodate more worshippers is offered at 10AM in All Saints Catholic High School.

Besides presiding at the Masses and greeting the faithful, there was a delicious supper prepared by the Knights of Columbus (with assistance from the Catholic Women's League for the desserts) in the parish hall for representatives of the Pastoral and Finance Councils as well as members of other parish committees.

There were opportunities for all to present a sense of their achievements and goals, along with their concerns and questions. Father Muldoon took notes and I responded to the presentations, then took additional questions. There are worries about the debt being assumed in the construction of the church (although $1.6M has been collected or pledged), concerns about how to reach out to the younger generations and whether the Archdiocese will be able to supply a priest for the parish in the longer term future.

On Sunday, after the last Mass, a reception was held in the Parish Hall. The CWL also served a home-cooked lunch to close out the visitation. Photos of this visit to a lively worshipping community are interspersed with highlights of the history of the parish:

The steeple had become precarious and was removed in autumn 2009

1850 The chapel was enlarged; in 1861, the first baptism registered in the parish was John Fahey, son of William Fahey and Margaret King by Fr. M. Molloy; in 1864, the first marriage was performed on November 9, uniting Michael Fahey, son of John Fahey and Nancy Kinly, with Elizabeth, daughter of William Tracey and Rachel Day. In 1869, the first funeral was on July 12 for Michael Ahearn, 75 years old.

In 1883, the mission was named "St. Isidore" by Archbishop Joseph Thomas Duhamel of Ottawa in a pastoral letter; in 1887, the present church was built and blessed by Archbishop Duhamel on October 9. In 1891, a 740-pound bell, which was christened St. Anne, was purchased from Mr. Henry McShane and blessed by Archbishop Duhamel on November 15. In 1898, a five-acre field was purchased, a cemetery was established, and a rectory was under construction; in 1899 the rectory was completed.

In 1900, Father Thomas John Brownrigg became the first full-time resident priest of the parish, and in 1922 Electricity came to St. Isidore: $974 was spent on wiring and fixtures for the church and rectory. In 1924, the first telephone bill amounting to $20.28 for the year was paid to the Monk Rural Telephone Company; in 1927 under the direction of Fr. John Cunningham, 35 ladies of the parish gathered in the rectory to form St. Isidore Catholic Women's League.

In 1934, Fr. Philip C. Harris organized the installation of the memorial stained glass windows; indoor plumbing was installed in the rectory at a cost of $322.44. In 1946, the beautiful statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was installed on the front lawn of the rectory; in 1961 a new organ was purchased for $1,595. Around this time, the beautiful lighted cross was donated by Ed and Laura Kennedy and installed in the steeple.

In 1966, the church interior is changed to conform to the new liturgy and language changes made in keeping with liturgical directives inspired by the Second Vatican Council. The high altar and communion rail were removed, new platforms were built and confessionals added to the back of the church and removed from the sacristy. The total cost of the renovations amounted to $65,000. Sunday masses were held in St. Isidore School until renovations were completed in 1967.

In 1976, Fr. Francis J. McEvoy encouraged the ladies of the parish to re-establish the Catholic Women's League which had faded from lack of support in the early 1970s. In 1979, the church hall was opened and in 1987, the 100th anniversary of the church was celebrated.

Part of the assembled members of the congregation at the Saturday evening dinner, exchange


  1. "The high altar and communion rail were removed ..."

    I wonder which Vatican II document instructs us to rip out the high altars?

  2. I don't know, I've never been able to find out either. Methinks it was the "inspiration" of the so-called "spirit of Vatican II." What ruin of a beautiful church and all that carpet has just killed off singing!

    Sort of came in with the smell of sulphur.

  3. "...the church interior is changed"

    If it was changed as most other parishes were, it was not for the better. As the photo shows this is a people that does not look towards heaven - to towards the Lord during worship - but instead look at themselves. It's not a pleasant thing to say but someone has to say it.