History of Holy Rosary
Take a look back at where it all began. Seeing Holy Rosary through the eyes of our ancestors gives us insight into their hopes for the future, and & strong resolve to keep alive the faith community they worked so hard to establish.
Where it all began...
Central European powers oppressed Slavic minorities clinging to their faith and culture during the 1800's. God's Providence directed emigrating Poles to settle in the American cities of Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee. Treaties with the Indians and the 1862 Homestead Act opened America's heartland to emigrating families. Many Milwaukee Poles steamered across Lake Michigan to Leelanau County. Settling in Centerville township between Lake Leelanau and Lime Lake.
Amidst forested hills and valleys, pioneers cleared land for log cabins wells and farms. They suffered untold hardships in providing basics for cooking and cleaning,
It was during the 1870’s that traveling missionaries began visiting the families clustered at Isadore corners named for St. Isadore, the patron saint of farmers. These missionaries brought the sacraments to the people of Isadore and Holy Eucharist was celebrated in many of the homes.
When the lumber mills and railroad came to the area around the 1880’s the community of Isadore added many new families whose strong spirit neither difficulties nor sacrifices could tarnish or crush. These hardships and tragedies drew pioneers closer to God and each other. Additional families also added their efforts and zeal to the new Mission church. It was these families who in 1882 contributed the first gifts to begin the building of a new church.
In June of 1882, lumber was purchased and land secured for the church. In November of that same year with many volunteers, construction began. Upon its completion, the Reverend Ignatius Mrak, D.D., one of our first missionaries, dedicated the mission church on August 16, 1883.
For the next ten years priests from Petoskey, Traverse City, Manistee, and Provemont (Lake Leelanau) brought the sacraments and celebrated Holy Eucharist at least once a month. When there was no priest, the parishioners gathered weekly to pray the rosary, sing hymns, and proclaim the word of God.
By 1892, the parish family grew and construction began on the first school. However, two years later the first frame school burned down. A new school was constructed in its place in 1896. In 1898, Fr. Stephen Nowakowski who became pastor of Holy Rosary, persuaded the Felician Sisters to teach and operate the school and 73 youngsters began school that year.
Father Stephen Narloch, offered parishioners new hope as he persuaded the people to erect a new church in 1920. He aroused the people in such a way that families spent all summer hauling field stones from their farms for use in the construction of the church. Stone masons worked all summer and fall in 1921-22, while many parishioners pitched in mixing the mortar and doing the carpentry.
On December 12, 1923 Bishop Kelly blessed the new Holy Rosary Church. The Roman-style edifice was beautified with 13 stained glass windows fired in Munich, Germany that still awe visitors and parishioners today.
Many persons can recall the sacrifices of their ancestors as they gave their time, talent and treasure to build up the Catholic faith in this community. Some of the unwritten history can be found in the way they took time to cut wood to heat the school and church. During the summer, there was no vacation or rest, because the people gave their time and talents to have summer festivals to raise funds to educate and teach the Good News.
Over the years the grounds of the parish have changed with the addition of a convent in 1957 built to provide a home for the Felician Sisters, a new rectory in 1969 to replace the original rectory which burned in 1967, and the church basement was remodeled to provide space for social activities, and of course the annual chicken dinner. In the past 10 years, , the parishioners again gave of their time, talents, and treasures to install new windows in the school building, new heating systems in the church, convent building and school, to remodel and re-roof the rectory, install a handicap elevator new flooring and air conditioning in the church.
Behind all this physical labor, there is the spiritual building of the Body of Christ. For over a century pastors have dedicated their priestly zeal for the salvation of the people of Holy Rosary. Each gave of themselves emotionally, physically, and financially so that today we | can enjoy the benefits of God's Eternal Life.
God loving families have nurtured the minds and hearts of their | children. Since its beginnings the Holy Rosary Family has had 40 daughters listed in religious orders, and 8 sons ordained priests, most recently, Matthew Wigton, who was ordained in Rome by Pope John Paul II this past May Yes, God has called many of these devoted children home, but those living continue to give of themselves willingly and generously to the service of the Lord.
Holy Rosary School provided a Catholic education for the children of the parish for 100 years, but, sadly in 1999 the school ceased functioning as a provider of standard education classes. However, the spirit of our forefathers still remains, and although no longer a grade school, the school provides a home for our religious education program for children from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
Our prayer is to continue this proud history of ours by showing the same dedication and devotion of our forefathers to the building up of the Body of Christ Our history will continue as God's people come together to pray, work and play. Our history continues when we give our time, talent and treasure to God and His Church.