Remembering when church's school, building were new

Sept. 9 was the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the St. Catherine of Siena Church building. The parish is close to celebrating the 100th year of its founding but it was on this date that the Rev. Bruno Daukas, pastor, saw the fruition of all of his plans when Bishop Arthur O'Neill came from Rockford to bless the new church.

Education is always a key element and so when the parishioners moved from the small church and school on Highland Avenue in West Dundee in 1965, the first thing to be built was the school. Couples were married, babies were baptized, people were buried and Mass was celebrated in the school gymnasium. As the population of neighboring villages grew so did the need and desire for a larger church.

It was lucky that the parish had a leader who was determined to create a beautiful place for worship. Father Daukas was an artist himself and the design of the church as well as some of the statues, like that of the Holy Family, are evidence of his vision. The community is invited to take free 30-minute tours of the church from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, and 12:45 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13.

There are the wonderful 19 stained-glass windows telling the stories of creation and offering. They are made of chunks of faceted glass that sparkle like jewels in the sun. The longest beams in the ceiling are 118 feet long and came here on two flat bed trucks from Eureka, N.Y. They are believed to be the longest continuous beams in the Midwest. Each brick on the wall was molded to bend with the shape of the church and the floor bricks, too, were each molded for their specific spot and laid by two men.

One unforgettable item is the gigantic Holy Family wall hanging that was constructed as a giant jigsaw puzzle with the help of more than 400 parishioners in December 1980. Father Daukas enlisted the talents of parishioner and artist Tom Rubel to create the work. Mary and Joseph's robes were divided into 400 pieces of felt and given out to each family with instructions to cut out their piece into letters forming their family name. Each piece was numbered so that it could be glued into its proper palace. It was like a parish family album before scrapbooking was popular.

I was president of Siena Circle, the church's women's group, when the church was dedicated and I remember that Father Daukas had everything planned down to the last detail - including the refreshments. There were hamburgers for everyone and we were informed that every plate had to also contain a pickle and a slice of tomato as well as condiments and assorted desserts. It's with a smile that I remember all of those dear women, some who are now gone, working together, slicing and dicing our way to perfection 25 years ago.

Happenings: There are so many and such a wide variety of opportunities for fun this September.

If you love the outdoors, Raceway Woods workdays are beginning again on Saturday, Sept. 12. If you would like to help with beautification projects, meet at 9 a.m. at the Route 31 entrance of the park. Call Kath at the Dundee Township Park District (847) 551-43100 for details.

There will be a safety vehicle check for seniors, 60 and older, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Elgin Township building parking lot, 729 S. McLean, Elgin. Elgin Community College Automotive Technology instructors and students will conduct a 25-safety check on your vehicle free. The checklist will include fluids, taillights, belts, hoses and tire pressure. No repairs or oil changes will be conducted. This is a safety inspection only and will take approximately 20 minutes. Call Belinda to register for a time slot at (847) 741-2045.

The Dundee Lions Club will sponsor its 14th annual Fayes Pork Chop barbecue from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Fireman's Park in East Dundee. It features pork chops, chicken and corn on the cob. Tickets are $12 in advance available from club members or $13 at the gate. Carryout will also be available. Special features of the evening will be an antique auto show and a hearing screening van from 3 to 7 p.m. The Dundee Lions Club supports local charities in the area.

The Fox Valley Rose Society will host the Fall Rose Show at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in West Dundee. Judging starts at 2 p.m. Visitors are welcome but exhibitors must be members of the society. The classes include hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, fragrants and miniatures. A number of the members are helping with the show: Billie Thomas, judging; Ann Dunne, clerk; Gerry Challender and Cathy Bishop; prizes; Scott Rhoades, vases and show materials; and Vi Waterman and June Wolk, refreshments.

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