Central City’s Guardian Angel celebrates their Quasquicentennial 1892-2017
This article appears here as originally written and published without changes or editing. It was originally published in the Weekly Register-Call’s Volume XXXI, No. 24, on November 25, 1892. St. Mary of the Assumption will be celebrating their Quasquicentennial with Mass celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, the Most Reverend Jorge Rodriguez. We invite the community to join in the celebration December 10, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. St. Mary of the Assumption is located at 135 Pine Street in Central City. Special thanks to the Weekly Register-Call and David D. Spellman for their assistance in researching this monumental occasion.
The New Church of the Assumption, Formerly St. Patrick’s
Bishop Matz, Assisted by Other
Perform the Dedicatory Services.
History of the Church and the Parish.
The Second Oldest in Northern Colorado.
The completion of the new Catholic church on Pine street, this city, and its dedication on last Sunday morning recalls to the minds of many of the first communicants of the church now retaining membership, of the first Catholic services ever held in Gilpin county. The following, taken from “The History of the Catholic Church in Colorado,: by Rev. William O’Ryan and Rev. Thos. H. Malone, is related in the late Bishop J.P. Machebeuf’s own words, written a short time before his death, which illustrates better than the words of the reporter some of the straits he was put to and the expedients he resorted to in olden days, and show, too, the never-forgetting kindness of the good old man. It is as follows: “In November, 1860, passing through Black Hawk, I was recognized by a Catholic who brought me to his house where I put up that night and was treated with great kindness and respect. The next day was spent in paying visits and getting acquainted with a few Catholics and others. The only place I could find to say mass in was a kind of a theatre, and I had to put up the altar on the stage. A pretty good number of Catholics and others attended. At my second visit mass was said in a vacant billiard room, and it required the work of two good men to clean and scrape the floor; the third visit, in a large store, finished, but not occupied. Tired of looking, at every visit, for a new place, I posted a safe man at the door, and told him when notice should be given to lock the door and bring me the key to the altar. I notified my man, in due time, to lock the door and bring me the key, which he did, faithfully. Now, my good men, I said, ‘none of you will go out until you contribute for a church.’ It happened that my good friend J. B. Fitzpatrick, one of the oldest pioneers of the country and one of the founders of Golden City, had been appointed agent for one of the mines of Central. Being generous, and a pious Catholic, he got up first and said: ‘I give you $20 for my contribution, and advance $50 toward the building of the church,’ and he deposited the money on the altar. The grand example was followed by others, so we were assured of having a chapel.”
The J. B. Fitzpatrick mentioned died five years ago at Golden, and a more sincere mourner was not at his funeral then Bishop Machebeuf, who ever esteemed him highly.
For some length of time services were held in the Hadley building in Mountain City once a month, Rev. J. P Machebeuf and Rev. J. B. Raverdy coming up from Denver specially for that purpose.
In 1862 the Catholics bought a large two-story frame building on Pine street, site of the new church, fitted it up, and services were held in this house until September, 1863, when Rev. Thomas A. Smith was appointed pastor. Under his pastorship the church was enlarged, and preparations begun for laying the foundation for a larger and more substantial church, which, however, was not begun until some years later. Rev. T. A. Smith was succeeded in 1866 by Rev. J. B. Raverdy, who remained in charge of the Catholics of Gilpin county until July 1871. A few weeks later Rev. H. Bourion, of Marquette, Michigan, succeeded Rev. Raverdy. Rev. Bourion pushed on the work of the new church, and on the 20th of August, 1872, the corner-stone was laid by Bishop Machebeuf, of Denver. The church was to be of stone, with a seating capacity of about 800, with basement, and flanked by two towers surmounted by two spires 150 feet high. Want of funds caused the work to be suspended in 1874, after only the basement had been completed. In this same year St. Aloysius Academy, on Gunnell hill, was built, and a flourishing school opened by the sisters, which still continues to prosper.
The great fire of 1874 swept over the city and destroyed the church. The basement of the new church was then enclosed and fitted up, and was used for services until July last, when it was torn down preparatory to the erection of the present handsome edifice. In September 1877, Rev. Bourion was succeeded by Rev. Finotti, who remained until his death, January 10, 1879. The pastorate of the Catholic church was then temporarily filled by Rev. A. Monteranello, from Pueblo, until April, when Rev. William J. Howlett was appointed pastor. During the time Rev. Howlett was in charge the church was enlarged to nearly double its seating capacity.
A parochial residence was also built, which is now occupied as a rectory. In 1886, Rev. William J. Howlett having been transferred by Bishop Machebeuf to Mission work, Rev. M. J. Carmody, from Georgetown, was appointed his successor, remaining here until 1890, when failing health caused him to resign. Rev. Scanlon temporarily filled the pastorate until Bishop Matz appointed the Rev. Peter Robinet, of Fort Collins, as pastor. The latter remained here but a short time when he returned to his former charge in Fort Collins. Bishop Matz appointed Rev. G. Raber of Leadville as his successor, since which time the latter has been in charge of the pastorate, which still comprises Gilpin county. As above stated the work of tearing down the old church, which long since had been inadequate to the demands of a large and growing congregation, was begun in July, since which time the work of erecting the new and more commodious church has been pushed to completion as rapidly as possible. The work has been personally supervised by Rev. G. Raber, in addition to attending to his clerical duties.
THE NEW EDIFICE
It is constructed of stone and brick masonry and is 90×42 feet, cruciform in shape, fronting to the east on Pine street, the cross-arms extending 52 feet, with a tower on the northeast corner 85 feet high above the ground, the lower portion being 14×14. The auditorium is 40×60 feet, with a seating capacity of about four hundred. In the north end is a gallery for the choir and children. The height of the auditorium from the floor to the ceiling is 31 feet. The latter, which is circular in form, is very artistically frescoed. The sanctuary at the south end of the auditorium is 16×31 feet, on each side of which are two sacristies. The style of the architecture is for the most part gothic in style. The window glass is stained. The entire building will be heated by means of a hot air coal furnace, which is situated underneath the auditorium, and it is lighted by 24 electric lights of 25-candle power each. The entire cost of the structure is about $10,000, nearly all of which sum has been paid. The contractor was Mr. F. W. Parroth of Denver, the plastering was executed by our fellow-townsman Mr. Henry Altvater, and the frescoing by Berra of Denver, all of whom have done excellent work. The church when fully completed will not only prove an ornament to the city, being the finest in the county, but will stand as a monument of the liberality of the citizens of Gilpin County. It reflects great credit on the executive ability of Father Raber.
The name of the church, which has heretofore been St. Patrick’s, in the future will be known as the Church of the Assumption.
The board of trustees is composed of the following named gentlemen: Messrs. Marcus Leahey, Matthew Kelleher and Ignatius Gundy.
THE DEDICATORY SERVICES
Took place last Sunday morning a little after 10 o’clock, at which time a procession was formed at the main entrance to the church, headed by Rev. G. Raber, celebrant, Rev. Leo. Boehmer, of Golden deacon, Rev. W. F. Murphy of Idaho Springs, sub-deacon, and Bishop Matz, who marched around the church, the latter sprinkling holy water on the edifice at intervals. Returning to the main entrance the Bishop and his assistants entered the church, passing down to the sanctuary through the middle aisle, where they took their respective stations inside the altar railing. They were followed by those who had congregated at the church to witness the services. As soon as the congregation took their seats and the confusion attending the seating of so large a number of people as were in attendance had subsided, Bishop Matz left the altar, passing down both side aisles, again sprinkled holy water on the sides of the interior, as well as in the sanctuary. The regular church choir was composed of seven female and two male voices, viz: Misses Maggie Leahey, Mamie Loughran, Lizzie Gallagher, Mary E. Kearns, Annie Kearns, Della Arrighi, Nora Gallagher, Thomas Crawford and Joseph Dunhurst. During the services, which were of a very impressive character, the choir beautifully rendered De Monti’s Mass in B-flat, Miss Della Arrighi assisting with the violin and Miss Maggie Leahy presiding at the organ. After the Gospel of the mass, Rev. W. J. Howlelt, of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Denver delivered
After reading the Prayer of Solomon from the VIII chapter of the Third Book of Kings, 28th to 43d verse, Father Howlett began his sermon of which the following is the substance.
“DEARLY BELOVED FRIENDS: It does me good to be with you to-day. I feel that I am among friends. You have come at last upon that long-hoped-for day of gladness and the gladness of friends is my own gladness too. You have reason to be glad for the anxious years of watching and waiting are gone; the difficulties, that like clouds, seemed to settle and remain around you, have been dispersed and the clear morning of a bright future opens upon you to-day. I am to-day forcibly reminded of the past – that past when I came among you years ago. I say you, for the same faces that I saw on April 27th, 1879, I see to-day, Nov. 20th, 1892.
“I am reminded of those days when I found you in the cramped basement of a church that could exist only in the wildest imagination and when your courage had sunk even below the basement in the temple of hope. I am reminded of those years of struggle when hope and despair played with one another and you always ready to lift up the one and frown down the other. Those were days that tried your faith and superhuman courage and supernatural grace were necessary to prevent a settled apathy from taking possession of your souls.
“I am reminded of those days as I stand here to-day; and will you why? What is there in our present surroundings to suggest such a past? As we are gathered here to-day in this beautiful and completed temple which you have just given to God with no man holding a back mortgage upon it, with the present filled with joy and gladness and the future bright as far as eye can penetrate, with the rays of realized hopes, with those years of struggle ended and new years of prosperity coming, bearing the reward of perseverance and the crown of successful labor, what is there to remind me of the past? Ah, dear friends! It is not by any similarity of times that I am carried back to those days, but by the contrast. It is because the change has come. It is because the gloom has passed away and has been succeeded by a light as strong as it was deep. It is because the mountain has gone and the pleasant garden is spread before you. It is because the supposed everlasting basement has disappeared and in its place is this beautiful edifice.
“Truly this is no other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.”
“When King Solomon prayed that beautiful and expressive prayer which I read a moment ago he was standing in the first house that was ever built by human hands as the special property of God. Labor and expense had not been spared in its preparation. The houses of the ordinary people were ordinary houses and the homes of the kings were palaces, and we find no fault with such an allotment, for ‘Honor to whom honor is due,’ and the house of God upon earth was properly the most magnificent of all edifices. It was the spontaneous offering of all the people and all had their share in the building of it, and it was to be the home of the whole people where God would hear them. The children of the chosen race could ask justice and money and favor from their God in it, and the stranger was not denied the same blessed privilege. It was a house of prayer and holiness became it.
“An imitation of that temple-yet a greater and more holy house, you have here, and it is the Lord’s House in a stricter sense of the word than the old Temple of Solomon could claim. The Temple of Solomon was seven years in building and was made of hewn stones and these covered with durable and costly wood and this was ornamented with pure gold. A less time you have taken but every stone represents an act of self denlal and privation. The poor man’s offering and the widow’s mite, the miner’s pearldrop of sweat and the families’ sacrifices, all are here gathered together and petrified into a monument of virtue more pleasing to God than grander temples built by the offerings of those who give from their overflowing abundance.
“In the temple of Solomon the glory of God filled the house as a cloud, but you have more than that here, for God will dwell here in His Sacrament of Love, only hidden from mortal eyes by the necessary veil of bread behind which He conceals the actual presence of an infinite majesty, which if revealed would kill us by the splendor of His glory. In this temple He dwells henceforth with His personal presence night and day to receive the supplication of His children when they come with their burdens of sorrow that He may pour out His consolations upon them. He is here to add greater joy and fuller grace to those who rejoice and are glad because His grace has been with them and kept them up in trying times. He is here for the sinners. When the heaven shall be shut up against them by reason of their sins and when they do penance here and be converted the rain of grace will be poured upon them and God will show them the good way in which they should walk. He will be here and for the well and strong to hear their prayer of praise and thanksgiving, and for the suffering and afflicted to grant their just demands for relief or resignation. He will be here for the good to justify them still more and for His wayward children to chide and bring them back, and, aye, for the stranger, who knows Him not yet, to teach him to fear and love His sacred name.
“There is no power like that of divine love. Other forces in nature men are daily discovering and yoking to the wheels of civilization and temporal prosperity. They aid in general progress and convenience but the great benefit is for the few. This power of divine love can never be confined and is the one privilege that no man can take from you. Its source is in your religion, its resting place is in the church where the foot of Jacob’s ladder rests, up which angels of prayer and love and repentance can ascend from you and angels of peace and consolation and grace descend from God to you. This church for you will be a holy place. It will be more than a house of prayer, it will be a birthplace of spiritual life, a continued home for that life and even a place of spiritual resurrection from the death of sin. Yea, more than this.
“Every act of real value, every important event will be the woof and the church will supply the warp with which your lives are woven. Here you are baptized to God, here you are nourished and grow in grace, here you plight your sacred troth, and ask God to bless ‘love that is like the love of God, for His Spouse on earth;’ here your children will be given back to their Creator, who will then be their Redeemer and Sanctifier; here, when the span of life is over, you will come to this life-long friend who will, in compliance with the decree, consign ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and present your soul to Him from Whom it came, asking Him, in this place where nothing can be refused, to receive it into His home of eternal peace.
“Not only will this be for you but for the generations yet to come who will enjoy these same blessed privileges and will sing peals of praise in which you, though gone, will still have a share as well as in the prayers of ecstatic souls who will come here to pour themselves out before God.
“Holy memories will always cling to it for you, and to-day begins that life-long day of thanks from grateful hearts to God that even through trial and disappointment and sacrifice He has brought you to the end of a painful labor and to the beginning of brighter things.
“To him who has not spared himself in work and in sacrifice to lead you to this day you cannot forget your grateful acknowledgements. He has planted and watered. May God grant that you and he may belong together to reap the bountiful harvest that God will not fail to give.”
In the evening Bishop Matz delivered a very able sermon on the “Infallibility of the Catholic church.” The congregation was large and very attentive.
Before the close of the morning service a thanksgiving offering was taken up and a large sum of money was contributed by the congregation, who believe that the Lord loveth a cheerful giver.
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