Lillian Wright

April 4, 1993


What it was like for me to attend Mass on Sunday at St. Yves when I was a child:Original Church

The roots of Catholic faith were already planted at Harmony when the Franciscan Friars, which were stationed at St. Francis Mission at Cowlitz Prairie, said they would serve the Our Lady of the Lake, St. Yves Mission.

My dad who had started a service station with his brother at Salkum (that was as far as the Mountain Road Highway had been paved with cement) volunteered to transport the priest the 2nd & 4th Sundays and on the 5th Sunday of the month also. Mass was scheduled for 11:00, so my dad would travel to Cowlitz just in time as the priest finished the 8:00 Mass, then stop; gather us up as Mom would have us ready and waiting and then proceed. The roads were gravel- dirt and pot holes. It was just as fast, time wise, to go the Silver Creek route down the winding road across the Tilton River and up the steep climb to Harmony junction to the church as going the route to Mossyrock and down the steep hill and across the Cowlitz River and climb up to the church.

Those who were anticipating receiving communion at this Mass were fasting from water and food since midnight. For me the travel seemed long and we had to go to confession before Mass in order to receive the Eucharist. By the time the priest had finished confessions it seemed like forever.

Someone would have started the fire in the big round stove in the left rear corner of the church as you entered. There you could warm yourself and on the right hand side was the confessional closet with purple hanging cloth doors and four feet ahead was the organ as it set even with the isle.

When you knelt down the kneelers would move and you had to be careful not to make any noise and I would run my fingers in the pews as they were made with slats, and I could not see up over the top of the pews. Mass was in Latin - the priest had his back to the people at times, but you knew and followed with your picture prayer book and you heard the bells. Before Communion the altar railing was covered with a white cloth and you knelt to receive the Eucharist.

When I was a little older, I then stood around the organ and sang with a few others, no one else sang.

What was of interest to me was, you never knew what priest you would get to come that Sunday, until later on when the Friars got their own car and the Mission was well established.

I recall the priest wanting to visit an Indian lady and seeing the older Indian lady sitting on the wood box by the stove. I recall a priest stopping the car to pick fern for the altar.

The return for the priest to Cowlitz always meant the big Sunday dinner with the big appetites - all the teasing and games. Then I might just get to go with Dad as he returned the priest. Maybe Dad would take the (cut-off) road of pot holes and gravel (Tucker road) or go around by Mary's Corner - where I got to see the deer, the bear, and monkey in cages at the large gas station, a side attraction to catch the eye of the travelers at Highway 12 and Mary's Corner. We would go through the beautiful Lewis and Clark State Park, and count all the little bridges over the creek that followed along the Jackson Highway (Old Highway 99).

That was truly the Lord's day spent with the people of faith.

By Lillian Wright, all rights reserved. From the Dedication booklet for the rebuilt St. Yves Catholic Church in Harmony, Washington. The ceremony was at 3:00 p.m., May 9, 1993. Lillian's family, the Hadallers, helped to build the original St. Yves, which was lost to fire, and were among the founding members of the community. She continues to be a vibrant active member today, June 4, 2001. Rev. Roger J. Smith, pastor.

For more information about St. Yves Church return to the History of the Catholic People on the Upper Cowlitz River, and look at the parish material at The East Lewis County Catholic Community, or look at all the pages sponsored by our community at the site map -> index of all pages.