Archive for the ‘Human Needs & Concerns’ Category

World War I—Invasion of Belgium

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1914—August 4

For parishioners in 1914, the founding of the parish was a time of joy, but it was also marked by sadness and worry for loved ones back in the old country.

The Invasion of Belgium

On August 4, 1914 the Germans began an invasion of their Belgian homeland. 6,000 Belgians were killed, 25,000 homes and other buildings in 837 communities destroyed. 1,500,000 Belgians fled from the invading German army (20% of the entire Belgian population).2 Some of them eventually immigrated to the United States, and made their home in Allouez.

Support at Home

During the war, parishioners followed every detail of the Superior Telegram’s news articles and war maps depicting the fighting in Belgium, but were unable to track the whereabouts of parents and siblings in the old country, many of whom were suffering the horrors of war.

Although the wartime conditions prevented any to even consider returning to the old country, Fr. Hanssens was able to comfort them and give them the spiritual assistance they needed during this most difficult time.

The Belgian priest, who had studied English for two years while in seminary back home, was able to communicate to the Flemish speaking Belgians in Allouez what was being reported in the newspaper.

The Allouez Call to Arms

Eager to respond to the call of distress of their mother country and “fight for their King,” the August 7, 1914 edition of the Superior Telegram reported that “twenty sturdy sons of Belgium” left Allouez to take up arms against Germany. Most of these men had just been laid off at the Allouez ore docks. They were all single. It was the policy of the company to give preference to married men who had families to support.

Belgium Pride

Germany never did manage to occupy all of Belgium during World War I. After the evacuation of Antwerp and Ghent, the Belgian army retreated to the Yser River where they established an impregnable position in an area next to a tiny inland harbor.
The army’s relentless refusal to give up their homeland to the Germans, increased the national consciousness among the Belgians of Ss. Anthony and Margaret Parish.
During the war, they and other Belgian Americans gave so generously to the victims of the war, that an official delegation from Belgium was sent to the United States in 1917 to honor their efforts.

In recent years, WW-I aerial reconnaissance “before and after” photos of Belgium have surfaced showing the destruction (click on photos to enlarge). The top photo shows the town of Passchendaele in 1916. In the town’s center along a curving road is a church. Houses are strung along the roads with a lovely quilt of farmland and pasture all around. The bottom photo shows the same area in 1917.

Holy Name Society Organized

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The Society of the Holy Name was organized in 1924. Three years later the Junior Holy Name Society, consisting of boys from 14 to 18 was organized.

The primary purpose of the society was to beget due love and reverence for the Holy Name of God and Jesus Christ. Adult males of the parish who joined made reparations, in particular, against blasphemy, perjury and immorality.

Members of the society assisted in parish ministries by performing the Corporal Works of Mercy: to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless, tend the sick, visit those in prison, and bury the dead; as well as the Spiritual Works of Mercy: to convert sinners, instruct the ignorant, counsel the wayward, comfort the sorrowing, bear adversity patiently, forgive offenses, and pray for the living and the dead.

The Society’s first officers were Mr. N.P. Archambeau, president; Mr. Archie Jaques, secretary; Mr. James Murray, treasurer.

The St. Anthony Holy Name Society was very active in the parish for many years since, and had the distinction of being the first active Holy Name Society in the Diocese of Superior.


World War II

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The US Post Office issued a gold star mothers postage stamp on September 21, 1948. The 3 cent stamp is gold and displays a five-pointed star superimposed on a palm leaf with the words “Gold Star Mothers” inscribed below.

History Repeats

A day after St. Anthony parish celebrated the Jubilee anniversary of its foundation, the entire world was stunned when Germany signed a nonaggression pact with Poland on August 23 paving the way for the beginning of World War II with Hitler assured that his troops would not have to fight a war on two fronts. On September 1, Germany invaded Poland.

The Invasion of Belgium

In May shortly before school left out, the Belgian, army tried unsuccessfully for 18 days to stop them, but surrendered to the Nazis on May 28.

U.S. Entry into the War

When the United States entered the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the parishioners of Ss. Anthony and Margaret rallied behind their country’s defense, as they had done in the first World War.

Gold Star Mothers

Blue Stars (indicating that a family had a son or daughter serving in the war) began to appear in the windows of many homes in Allouez and Itasca. As the war raged on, more and more Gold Stars (indicating that a loved one in the family had been killed in the war) also began to appear. Ss. Anthony and Margaret’s valiant sons were offering their lives to help pay the cost of freedom. Having served their country with heroism and dedication, an appreciative nation expressed its deepest gratitude.

School Physical Fitness Program Begins

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In compliance with the request of President Kennedy, a physical fitness program for all grades was initiated in 1963 at the school (conducted by each teacher during the regular recess period.)

Supreme Court Legalizes Abortion

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In February 1973, after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in January, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral statement on what course of action Catholics must take. Parishioners of St. Anthony were asked to read the complete text in the Herald Citizen (issue dated February 24) which “underscored the teaching authority of the Church on this vital issue.”

Handicap Accessbile Ramp Constructed

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Fr. Pius Macahlonis blessed and dedicated a newly constructed handicapped accessible ramp, made possible with funds donated by the Amys family as a memorial for Donald L. Amys who passed away on December 10, 1981. Donald who worked for Lenroot-Maetzold Funeral Home (as well as the Burlington Northern Railroad) had always expressed that his goal was to have a ramp alongside the front steps so that caskets could be easily rolled out of church into the hearse. The installation of the ramp, however, proved also just as useful for wheelchair users, as well as people pushing strollers, carts, or other wheeled objects, to more easily access the church building.

The Gulf War

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With an aerial bombardment having started on January 17, 1991 on Iraqi troops who invaded Kuwait, but before the ground assault started on February 23, yellow ribbons were provided to a parishioners in support of our troops in the Gulf. Yellow bows were also placed on the pews.