The Period from 1964 to the Present at St. Yves

by Father Victor Cloquet


Because of illness, Archbishop Connolly was not able to participate in the Jubilee of August 2, 1964. However, he did celebrate with the St.Ives Community the following year. The Catholic Northwest Progress relates this account: "Harmony, Washington. A Mass marking the end of the 50th Jubilee Year for St. Ives, Our Lady of the Valley Mission was offered at 9:00 AM, August 29, 1965 by the Most Reverend Thomas A. Connolly, Archbishop of Seattle. Assisting at the Mass were Father Roger Agostinelli, O.F.M. and Father Szeman, Director, Propagation of the Faith. In his remarks at the close of the Mass, His Excellency congratulated the overflow congregation, paying tribute to the pioneer spirit of the parishioners, their loyalty to the Church, and to the many years of devoted service by the Franciscan Fathers to the Catholics of the Cowlitz Valley. After the Mass, the Archbishop was guest at an outdoor brunch attended by all members of the parish."


Archbishop Connolly was no stranger to Harmony. He enjoyed steelhead fishing in the Cowlitz canyon below the Church - that is before the construction of the Mayfield Dam. The story goes that on one occasion he discovered all the St. Ives church pews in the yard, and he wrote to the pastor about this. The altar society was engaged in a big project of tiling the church floor, and the pastor learned later that a certain "permission" was lacking. However, this did not seem to keep the steelhead from biting. All enjoyed this note of humor. This writer would suspect that proper permission was subsequently obtained.


In May 1968 the Eastern part of Lewis County was canonically established as a parish with the priest residing in Morton. With the new more accessable U.S. Highway 12 and the shorter distance of Mossyrock to Morton, St. Ives Mission was transferred from St. Francis Parish in Toledo to the care of Sacred Heart Parish


Many good projects were completed during the ensuing years from 1964 primarily due to the fund raising by the Altar Society. Among these accomplishments were the tiling of the church floor already mentioned, and the padding of the kneelers. The influx of people working on the Mayfield and Mossyrock Dams swelled the church population. Father Roger (who had his own "hard hat" from Tacoma City Light as a "project" chaplain) secured the present CCD units for the church site in 1967. This made for a better classroom organization. Parents gathered for their coffee in a tent by the cemetery as they waited for the children to finish classes. Father Roger with the help of the Wright boys secured lumber here and there, some from Tacoma City Light projects. He personally worked in the construction of the present choir loft. The new organ was obtained. The new balcony was a welcome addition to the crowded little church. The new lakes also brought a new tourism to this area.


Father Robert Daly became the pastor in 1968. Otto Hadaller tells the story that Father was working with the parishioners in the painting of the church, Since Father was the younger man, he volunteered to paint the church steeple. He not only painted the steeple, but a weary eyed bat woke up to find itself a little "green".


Each administration has something to impart. Father Ronald Belisle succeeded Father Daly. He thoroughly inspected the church foundation and repaired it. The new foundation skirting was added and the back porch and easy access ramp were provided. Francis Mills assised Father in the survey and plotting of the Church Cemetery. One beautiful event to remember was when Father celebrated Mass at the Gross' farm for the Lord's blessing upon the harvest at all of Silver Creek.


Some "finishing" touches were added to the church in the summer of 1978. It was time again to paint the buildings inside and out. Father Victor (who became pastor in 1977) met and discussed these matters with parishioners assembled at the Oscar Wedam home at Silver Creek. The following August the church was textured inside and then painted. A special word to acknowledge the courage of Earl Allington and Wayne Woodward who painted the steeple, as the hired painter chose not to do it. The following January a new sanctuary carpet was added, the funds were provided from the Altar Society. In 1979 the stain glass window graced this historic church. Robert Callison of Morton was the design artist and a capable craftsman. The glass was from the Morton Church construction period. Many things continue to be accomplished under the guidance of Charles Winne, the capable ground superintendent.


No history of St. Ives is complete without the presence of the Altar Society. It was on February 13, 1952 that fifteen ladies met for the first time at the home of Polly Gross at Silver Creek. Vivian Kaiser was elected President, Polly Gross, Vice President, and Dorothy Blankenship, Secretary-Treasurer. In their devotion for their little church the ladies have labored with bazaars and dinners. They have accomplished many things: among these, the already tiling the church floor, the hand made altar boy cassocks, their assisting with summer school of religion. This same spirit continues today with the ladies who were assembled for the home Mass and Altar Society meeting home of Flora Benedict at Mayfield Lake on October 25, 1982. With Flora, there were present: Theola Allington, Lillian Wright, Ruth Barnett, Elizabeth Kaech, Charlotte Winne, Ruth Sprinkle, Norma Wedam, Anna Hadaller, Rose Kaiser and in spirit Mary Kaech, Charlotte Hale, Polly Gross and Eileen Johnson. This same spirit continues as a background symphony for these years of time.


The Cemetery is a present setting for the St. Ives Church, although it remains a separate entity. The first recorded grave was for a young boy, John Schmitt in 1914. On September 5, 1961 Father Fabian Gussenhoven, O.F.M. purchased an additional acre of land adjoining the cemetery from Mr. Harry W. Carson for the sum of $1,000.00. With the celebration of Memorial Day 1981, Father Victor Cloquet announced the establishment of a Board of Trustees for the Cemetery: George Kaech, Edward Dugan, his successor being Gary Gross, Charles Winne and the resident Pastor. The new cemetery policies which had been approved by the Board of Trustees were also published at this time. Many parishioners who were once part of the St. Ives Church now rest in peace within its shadow. (The cemetery is visible next the the new St. Yves Church building. We kept the church at its old location because of he cemetery.)


The parishioners of St. Ives always showed their concern for the sacred liturgy and the religious education of the children. Many people labored in past years, and their devotion for the CCD is represented both yesteryear and now in Jennie Branson, Norma Wedam, Joyce Grandle, Lillian Wright, Wayne and Marcia Woodard, Paula Rosenkranz, Eileen Johnson, Sheri Kaech, and Joan Wright. Anna Schmitt and Sopie Hadaller gave loving care to the little Church by the Cowlitz. Marie Ghosn left as her heritage the beautiful hand made altar cloth which adorns the altar. The Allen Frybergers, Charlotte Shuler, Inez Mills, Irene Ghosn, Josephine Zandecki, Rosella Newhall, the Henry DeGoede's, Paul and Suzanne Opperman, Robert DeGoede, and many others, all have helped make the Liturgy beautiful, the living prayer of the community .


This history of St. Ives spans some 70 years of time. It was before Ike Kinswa State Park, the homestead where once the Sawyer and the Suren children played. Near the church door is a cross marking the memory of Rosa Meyer. Anton Hadaller for many years attended the priest at the altar for the weekly Eucharist. Also sharing the Catholic heritage were many of the Cowlitz Indian People. These Native Americans grew up in the shadow of St. Francis Mission at Toledo, and they also homesteaded on the upper and lower Cowlitz River. Among these were Isaac Kinswa, Chief of the Cowlitz People, Mary Kiona who lived for 114 years by the upper River, and Cecelia LaDue, the paternal grandmother of this editor. Many are close to the Mission Church originally founded in their behalf, in its hallowed cemetery. Today our parishioner, Rose Kaiser, is the living presence of the past. Many things happened during 70 years, and now you also become part of this history of Harmony, the name chosen because of the harmony of its people.



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