One hundred years of faith! That’s a real milestone. Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Melita marked its 100th anniversary to the date on June 2, 2018. A special mass was celebrated at 5:00 p.m. with Archbishop Most Reverend Richard J. Gagnon. Con celebrating with His Grace were Fr. Paul Bisson – present pastor at Sacred Heart, Fr. Michel Nault and Monsignor Stan Jaworski – former pastor at Sacred Heart, and Deacon Murray Teetaert.
His Grace Archbishop Gagnon’s visit was also an opportune occasion to celebrate Confirmation for 10 confirmands, eight from St. Antoninus parish in Deloraine and two from Sacred Heart parish in Melita. Deloraine’s confirmands included Blake Artz, Taylor Corkish, Caleb Raes, Georgia Raes, Brady Threinen, Kylie Threinen, Luke Vandaele and Dustin Vandoorne. Brothers Alonzo and Marcus Laureola were the two confirmands from Melita.
His Grace spoke directly to the ten youth before they received the Sacrament of Confirmation. He spoke about roll call and what people usually answer when their name is announced – variations of Here, Present, Yes and so on. He encouraged them to say “Here I Am” when the Holy Spirit calls. “Introduce yourself to God, to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit – and say, “Here I am”. You being here today is a matter of faith. It reminds us all how important faith is, that it takes first place in our lives. Being confirmed means you stand up for Jesus in the world, at school, at home, everywhere. It won’t be easy, it wasn’t easy for me as a young person either, but I did it and now you are being asked to stand up for Jesus.”
Following mass a reception was held at the Melita Legion Hall. Everyone enjoyed a delicious cold plate meal provided by the Sacred Heart Ladies. Following the meal there was a brief program. Ellen Carels was the emcee for the program. “Welcome to our celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sacred Heart Church in Melita – and it is actually 100 years to the day! What an amazing day! Ellen introduced the head table, including Fr. Paul Bisson, His Grace Archbishop Gagnon, Monsignor Jaworski, Fr. Michel Nault, Deacon Murray Teetaert and his wife Adrienne Teetaert.
His Grace spoke about how he can relate to getting something off the ground from scratch. “It is quite something to do this – people pull together. We are grateful to the Pioneers that started Sacred Heart. They put their faith first. Faith life is a very important part of any town – it is part of the fabric and we need to acknowledge it, as we need to acknowledge all the churches in Melita – and I noticed there are several. The first Sacred Heart church got old and had to be replaced but the spirit did not get old, and a new one was built. And it is a beautiful church, well looked after and a real tradition here. All of us have the gift of the spirit and we than god for many blessings. Today, is a very unique gathering as we celebrate 100 years and the Confirmation of ten young people. It is a blessing and joy to be here.
Mayor Bill Holden brought greetings on behalf of the Town of Melita, as well as on behalf of Victoria United Church. “We offer our congratulations and best wishes. The church is a special part of the community.”
Debbie McMechan, Reeve of the Municipality of Two-Borders also brought greetings. “May Sacred Heart continue to offer comforting peace, faith and fellowship and may unity never go out of style.”
Fr. Michel Nault, pastor at Sacred Heart from 1996-1999 said Sacred Heart was the perfect place to be for his first parish. “It was a significant three years for me. Thank you for the wonderful reception today. God Bless you all.”
Monsignor Stan Jaworski is also a former pastor. He served at Sacred Heart from 1967 to 1970. He is 90 years young and as vibrant and enthusiastic as ever. “We are celebrating 100 years of faith — that’s what our memories are all about. I remember several parishioners that traveled to mass 26 miles one-way — talk about faith. Congratulations on this milestone today and keep going. Hang in there with the Lord!” he concluded.
Pat Rutherford is a lay minister for Christ Church Anglican in Melita. She brought greetings on behalf of the parish. We offer congratulations and best wishes, prayers and thanks to you,” she said.
Florence Pander read an original transcript – check elsewhere in this issue.
Cathy Zaharychuk read a history of Sacred Heart Church – check elsewhere in this issue.
Ellen Carels gave some closing remarks. Sacred Heart has provided a place for many baptisms, weddings, funerals, First Communions, Sunday masses and special masses for 100 years. We have found comfort and strength there. Thank you all for coming. I’ll now call on Fr. Paul to sing and play a closing blessing. Fr. Paul played “May the Good Lord Bless & Keep You” to conclude a memorable day.