- Last Updated: September 8, 2017
The furniture consisted entirely of borrowed things - pews, altar and confessional were castoffs from Notre Dame, which had been lying idle in the old boat house. Vestments too were gathered here and there wherever a hand-me down could be located.
At that first Mass, the church was crowded to the doors. One of the seminarians took movies. Crude wooden steps led to the front door. (at 8:00) Father Thomas Steines, C.S.C. assistant provincial, came out and blessed the building.
A few seminarians constituted the choir for it was a high Mass. Our musical instrument was an old reed organ discarded by Notre Dame.
After the opening Mass on August 15, Mass was said each Sunday. While I was still temporary pastor of Sacred Heart Parish at Notre Dame. I nevertheless began to leave the conduct of the Sunday Mass schedule there in the hands of others, while I myself handled the Sunday Mass at the Mission. This obvious interest in the mission on my part led Father Burns to make a decision to leave me in charge of it even after the return of the regular Pastor. Consequently, a little meeting was held in the Pastor's rooms, whereat Father Burns disclosed to Father Finnegan his intention of leaving me in charge. A few small incidents came out of the meeting.
What funds I had were deposited with the treasures at Notre Dame. Regular monthly statements were sent to me from then on. In October, a bill for a bicycle, due the account of Sacred Heart Church and charged to the account of the Mission arrived. I objected to Father Finnegan that the bicycle had been used in the discharge of the duties of the Pastor of Sacred Heart, but the bill stood and I had to pay it. Fr. Finnegan's answer was "You crowed so much about what you made on the social you can surely pay for your bicycle." After that I withdrew my account from the treasures office and deposited my income (about $3.00 per Sunday) in the First Bank & Trust Co. of South Bend where it could not be touched without my consent.
In early September 1937, our first social was held. It was little more than a lawn social, but the work put in on it was much more. Many a day I spent in back of the church working on a special project. I was determined to have a ride for the children and was engaged in making a merry-go-around. I mentioned this fact at a meeting of the women one evening, and I met only disbelief that I could do such a thing. Their incredulity was turned to admiration, however, when with unrelenting labor, I actually came up with a merry-go-around, and the children had a fine time riding at a nickel a ticket. The contraption was man-powered, and the men were not in a mind to exert themselves to the extent for nothing. The upshot was that an agreement had to be reached with the children to push once for a ride. This worked very well, but it did not make any money.
We did clear about $150.00 on that social - a grand achievement for depression time.
A reporter and a photographer from the local newspaper showed up & had me pose with the merry-go-round and inside the unfinished church. These pictures were actually published along with an account of the beginnings of the mission.
This write-up was not wholly acceptable to the Pastor, who on his return had a different article published, more in accordance with his liking.
Next week—Part 3 Basement and Bazaar