First Communion at St. Anthony’s Church, June 1963. Photo: Trail Historical Society

First Communion at St. Anthony’s Church, June 1963. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Trail Blazers: First Communion at St. Anthony’s Church

Trail Blazers in a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

With Ash Wednesday coming up next week (Feb. 22), this photo will likely stir memories for the many Catholic families in Trail.

This nostalgic image was taken in June 1963 during the first communion tea and snack at the former Church of St. Anthony of Padua — known simply as St. Anthony’s — in the Trail Gulch.

“Along with the ceremony, the children would also be photographed and invited to participate in the tea following,” Trail archivist Addison Oberg explains. “This photo was generously donated to us by Carla Picone, a dedicated member of St. Anthony’s Church.”

Declining Catholic congregations in Trail led to canonical suppression – or dissolution – of St. Anthony of Padua Church and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in May of 2013.

St. Francis of Xavier Catholic Church, which now houses the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Trail, was dissolved a number of years prior. All three congregations become one on May 19, 2013 as Holy Trinity Parish. Trinity defines God as three divine persons.

In February 2018, Trail council wiped the Catholic church’s property tax exemption from city books after the Gulch property was sold for use other than worship. Notably, the Nelson diocese owned St. Anthony’s until the church was sold in 2018.

With St. Anthony’s long in the history books, it’s interesting to look back at the parish’s original rules written in a 1939 church booklet provided by the Trail Museum and Archives.

In May 1939, the Bishop of Nelson asked Franciscan Fathers to take over the church, “and tend to the needs of both the Italians, who constitute the majority, and those of other nationalities in the parish.”

Therein came the “Rules of the Parish of St. Anthony.”

“To the Parish of St. Anthony of Padua belong all the Catholics, of all nationalities, residing in the western part of the City of Trail, from Weir Street, including Annable and Warfield,” the booklet noted. “The Pastor of the Church of St. Anthony has the sole right to officiate at the Baptism, first Communion, funeral and marriage of any Catholic residing in his parish. Those who intend to contract marriage must see the Pastor at least three weeks before it is to occur. At which occasion they must give their names for the Banns, show their baptismal certificate, and, if necessary, the certificate of freedom to contract marriage. They must go to Confession and on the day of the wedding, receive Holy Communion. Non-Catholics may not be sponsors at the Baptism of a Catholic, nor witnesses at Catholic marriage.

Every family, and each individual member of the Parish is obliged to support it according to his means.”

The original St. Anthony’s Church was ravaged by fire in January 1943.

“Despite the intense cold of an early wintry morning … The people of the Gulch witnessed in sorrow, the crumbling of the most beautiful landmark in West Trail … The people proved real neighbours, helping to quell the fire and providing shelter to the Fathers.”

St. Anthony’s re-opened for public service in October 1943.

Read more: Trail salutes the city’s finest

Read more: Trail pioneers enjoy coffee, tea and sandwiches at the Civic Reception (photos)

Read more: Pioneers luncheon celebrates Trail’s long-time residents



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