Local Parishes

The little parish that could

St. Columbkille celebrates 100 years


by Jill Ragar Esfeld

BLAINE — “We’re the small parish that can get things done,” claimed St. Columbkille Parish council president Todd Shepherd.

And the proof was in the lively 100th anniversary celebration of the community’s parish church, which was packed for the occasion.

In preparation for the anniversary event held Oct. 19, which also was celebrating the completion of a new roof, invitations were sent out to area priests and announcement cards were provided to all parishioners so they could notify family members of the celebration.

In the end, the extra effort paid off. “It was an awesome day, kind of like a little reunion,” said Pat Wulf, a member of the liturgy committee. “It was neat to see cousins and friends and people you grew up with coming back; some nuns were there that taught at the school, and there were priests there who had been in the parish before.

“The church was full. We’re just a really small community with only 55 families, so seeing the church full again was really neat.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann presided at the anniversary Mass, and many parishioners, young and old, took part, some in the procession that included a church banner and a picture of St. Columbkille.

Another picture of the church was on display and everyone in attendance was encouraged to autograph it. The church was decorated with an Irish theme in honor of the original Irish community that established the parish and still has many descendants in the area.

During the Mass, Archbishop Naumann, who is from St. Louis, said he was glad to be carrying on the Blaine/St. Louis connection — making reference to the fact that the Irish immigrants who originally started the parish were from the

Kerry Patch in St. Louis. Even among other honorary guests, however, parishioner Mary Cummings stood alone: The 102-year-old was a member of the parish when the original cornerstone of the church was set in 1908.

Mass was followed by a dinner reception. Pastor Father Arul Carasala said the meal was provided by the parish as a way of thanking parishioners for doing so much work on the church and donating so generously for the new roof.

In the end, all involved with the anniversary celebration felt blessed.

“It takes a lot to keep a parish going, and celebrations like this are so neat because it brings everybody together and gives us all a sense of belonging,” said Wulf. “We are rural people really working hard, and we’re just really proud of our church.”

Shepherd agreed, adding, “I think what’s a blessing to me is how committed our parishioners are to their church, their faith, their priests, the archbishop and the archdiocese.”


About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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