With prayers of thanksgiving and words of farewell, parishioners marked the closing of the Catholic church at Burstall Oct. 9, celebrating Mass with Bishop Mark Hagemoen and pastor Fr. Francis Appiah-Kubi.
St. Michael parishioners were joined by others from the area at the final Mass, including representatives from Fox Valley, Liebenthal, Leader and Richmound Catholic parishes, as well as representatives of local Lutheran and Evangelical churches.
The closure of the parish comes after a long period of discernment by the community, said Bishop Hagemoen. It is a time of sadness, but also a moment to embrace the challenge of the change and the need to connect with a new community, he noted.
In his homily during the final Mass held on the Thanksgiving weekend, Bishop Hagemoen focussed on the fact that the people of God are the ultimate temple and that they would persist in the visible expression of Catholic life faith and mission in the region.
The bishop also shared expressions of prayers and blessings from the Ursuline sisters of Prelate, from the diocesan Council of Priests , and from neighbouring parish communities who had let him know that they were holding the Catholic community of St. Michael, Burstall in prayer.
After Mass, the congregation went to the cemetery shared between the Lutheran and Catholic community, where Bishop Hagemoen blessed the graves. A reception in the church basement followed.
St Michael was officially established as a mission parish of Liebenthal on May 17, 1970, in response to the request of the Catholic community, which had purchased a former Baptist church and adapted it for use in Catholic worship. In the early years, Burstall was served by Oblate priests coming from Liebenthal and Richmound.
In 1977-78, to accommodate the increased numbers of Catholics, the present St. Michael church was developed, under the direction of Fr. Joseph Blatz, OMI, with a basement built first, and then a former Lutheran church at Leader, SK, was moved to Burstall and placed over the waiting basement.
The newly refurbished St. Michael Church was blessed on June 26, 1979 by Bishop Noël Delaquis of Gravelbourg. (St. Michael, Burstall was one of the parishes added to the diocese of Saskatoon in 1998.)
– Information from “Building the Church, Living the Gospel” by Margaret Sanche and Daniel J. Classen, 2013