It is sad news to hear that Parish membership is limited to five families and the beautiful church is on the liquidation list of the parishes of the St. Paul Diocese. For the Polish community in Canada, Mother of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Prosperity, Alberta has significant value as it was built by the Polish pioneers living around Athabasca area. The original, wooden construction of that rural church is perhaps the only one in Alberta, and perhaps in Northern America, which is built as a Catholic but in Protestant style. Also interior, handmade decoration from plaster is very unique and the only of its kind.
The heritage value of the Mother of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church of Prosperity lies in its historic connection with the early settlement of the area dated 1912. As per “Polonia in Alberta 1985-1995” – it was the only Polish-Protestant community in Alberta. The Polish homesteaders of the region joined the Anglican Church in Athabasca, as there were not enough of them to build their own church.” (p.19).
In about 1944 Father Kałużny came and made arrangements to have a church built on the Adam Wojtowicz farm. Next, Father Knapik came and served people in that area, having Mass at the schools or private homes. He got financial help and brought in Brother Andrew to work on the church. Father Rekowski and Brother Andrew spent almost half a year to fully complete the church. The parishioners also helped in any way possible. Each family provided food or anything necessary to have the church structure completed for the year 1946.
As for today, according the information we received, the Mother of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church is scheduled for liquidation.
The Polish Community in Edmonton and Northern Alberta is showing interest to participate in cultural heritage preservation of the church and cemetery.
Preserving this historic structure and cemetery is for the future generations as a building of historic significance, because once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever. Preserving old buildings not only benefits a community’s culture and identity, but also the whole nation. Follow that, we are asking the present parishioners, to discuss the actual situation and decide the further proceedings with the St. Paul Roman Catholic Diocese and Government of Alberta, Registered Historic Resources.
Some Polish organizations in Edmonton are showing great interests to proceed with church preservation. Particularly, the Knights of Columbus, John Paul II Council by the Holy Rosary Church is interested to work on the process.
Janusz Zalewski, author and historian of Edmonton is willing to coordinate the efforts to preserve this distinctive heritage landmark for Polish community in Northern Alberta.
Janusz can be contacted by e-mail <[email protected]> or by dialing 780-426-4757