Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church - Coleman, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 38.174 W 114° 29.993
11U E 680515 N 5501188
Quick Description: Built in the spring of 1906, this church was consecrated on June 24 of that year. The Belgian-made cast iron bell named 'Marie was blessed by Father Lacombe at the same time. The church was named 'Holy Ghost' after a church in Winnipeg.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 8/10/2015 11:41:40 AM
Waymark Code: WMPCT5
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member GeoKs
Views: 2

Long Description:
Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

When Alberta became a province in 1905, its economy was dominated by agriculture. Another major industry was on the rise however, this being coal. Between 1897 and 1910, coal production in the province increased from 242,000 to 3,000,000 tonnes annually. The major source for this coal was the Crowsnest Pass east of Pincher Creek where, in 1898, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) had extended a branch line. In the years that followed, miners poured in from around the world to work in the deep underground mines, financed, for the most part, by British, American and eastern Canadian capital. Mining towns consequently grew up, of which Blairmore and Coleman emerged as the largest.

When Coleman was incorporated as a town in 1910, its population was mostly non-British and predominantly Roman Catholic. Slavs and Italians each had their distinct neighbourhoods. It was primarily for these people that Father Paul Kuloway was inspired to establish the Holy Ghost Church on land donated for this purpose by the International Coal and Coke Company. With volunteer labour supplied by the parishioners, the church was erected during the spring of 1906 and consecrated on June 24. On hand for the ceremony, and officially blessing the Belgian-made cast iron bell named 'Marie', was Father Alberta Lacombe. The church was named 'Holy Ghost' after a church in Winnipeg built by Father Kuloway's brother, Father John Kuloway. It was one of ten churches initiated in Alberta by Father Paul Kuloway intended to serve mainly Polish and other eastern European immigrants. Shortly after the consecration, Kuloway left the Crowsnest Pass to serve in other parishes. In 1921, he returned of Poland where, twenty years later, he would be arrested by the Nazis and die in Auschwitz.

At the time of consecration, Coleman contained one of the largest number of Polish immigrants of any community west of Winnipeg. In 1913, Bishop Legal estimated the Polish population of the Pass to be around 600. The church, however, was not intended for the exclusive use of the Poles, or even eastern Europeans. Indeed, even though he had inspired the church, Father Kuloway had not been its resident priest. Serving in this capacity for the entire Pass at the time was the Oblate Father Emile de Wilde, of French descent. Father de Wilde conducted services at Coleman until 1911, and was replaced by Father A.L. de Lestre, who undertook the construction of a Roman Catholic school nearby. In 1914, Father de Lestre was replaced by the first resident Polish priest, Father Sweneski. Sweneski was followed shortly thereafter by the Italian Father Crociato. Over the years, priests of various nationalities have conducted services in the Holy Ghost Church. In 1936, the church was expanded, and, in 1952, pinnacles and transepts were added.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Holy Ghost Church lies primarily in its association with the lives of the hard working coal miners and their families who lived in the Crowsnest Pass, many of eastern European descent. Over the years, the church has proven of great solace, for the Pass has seen much human tragedy in the form of mine disasters, harsh working conditions, strikes, lockouts and unemployment as the demand for coal subsided during the 1930s and almost evaporated during the 1950s and 1960s. In spite of the depopulation of the Pass, the Holy Ghost Church has remained standing as a tribute as well as a solace to its parishioners.
From HeRMIS Alberta

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Type of Marker: Cultural

Sign Age: Historic Site or Building Marker

Parking: Parking available at site

Placement agency: Province of Alberta

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