Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Church proud of last 100 years

St. Catharine of Siena celebrates centennial

By Angela T. Koenig
Enquirer contributor

WESTWOOD - In the weeks leading up to St. Catharine of Siena's Sept. 21 Centennial Jubilee, members of this Catholic parish look back on 100 years of rich history.

"My parents, Frank and Magdalene Krollmann, were the first ones to be married in the parish," said parishioner and former Westwood resident Lenora Shannon, 98.

Her parents took their vows on Nov. 11, 1903, but they weren't wed in the building known today as St. Catharine's Church on Fischer Place. Instead, they were married in Old Donnelly Hall, where the Rev. Joseph A. Tieken presided over about 30 parishioners. The first Mass was celebrated in the hall on Sept. 20, 1903.

The parish, said St. C.'s current pastor, the Rev. Anthony M. Dattilo, was founded as an offshoot of St. Aloysius in Bridgetown. "That church got too large, or people felt it was too far away," he said.

The cornerstone for the first church building was laid a week after the Krollmann wedding. And the first church, a combination church and school building, was dedicated in November 1904. "They acted pretty quickly," Dattilo said.

Over the next two decades the parish grew rapidly, and a second building, the Norman Gothic church that serves the parish today, was erected in 1923 at Fischer Place and Wunder Avenue. The first building now houses St. Catharine's School, K-8.

Betty Carroll, 83, of Westwood has been a St. C.'s parishioner all her life. She was baptized there and graduated from eighth grade in 1933. Her parents, Arthur and Pauline Kleve, donated one of more than a dozen stained glass windows - imported from Innsbruck, Austria - that adorn the 1923 church building.

"It's always been there, like a part of the family,'' said Carroll.

The church family, though, has changed quite a bit since its founding, said Ferd Schneider, business manager. "There are about 1,000 families, or 3,000 people" enrolled, he said.

As part of the celebration, the 1903 cornerstone, which should hold documents placed there by the founders, will be opened. A special Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. and a dinner at The Farm in Delhi will follow.

Reservations are necessary for the dinner. For more information, call 661-0651.

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