When Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson worshiped at St. Anthony’s in later years, it was like she was in church with her mother, father and sister even though all three had long passed.
The Gattafonis lived across the street from their Rossland Avenue parish. So it was a deeply personal tribute when all three beloved family members were memorialized in the stained glass windows that once lined the church’s outer walls.
“For certain individuals you have an attachment, whether its a window, a piece of jewelry or something else,” Gattafoni Robinson shared. “But whenever I used to go to the church I sat in the pew right next to where my parent’s and sister’s windows were. Each person has an attachment to their window in their own way.”
The Trail Times’ Feb. 15 story “St. Anthony’s no longer a church in Trail,” generated much interest about the fate of the stained glass memorial windows.
Rest assured, Holy Trinity Parish council thought about the windows long before the sale was complete. All 63 painted glass panes have now been removed and replaced with clear glass.
This was all done with the blessing of the new owner, Bernard Mitchell.
“We realized that the windows could be a sensitive issue and left it in the care of the church council,” Mitchell told the Times prior to closing the sale. “To the best of my knowledge, the church has contacted the families that have loved ones memorialized on the windows and are working with them regarding their wishes.”
The church confirmed the windows are being carefully stored at Holy Trinity pending arrangements, pick up or otherwise, by surviving family members. They were asked to contribute $70 to the church for replacement costs, though at this point, not all the windows have been spoken for.
“I think this was a great thing because the change has been tougher on certain people than others,” said Gattafoni Robinson. “It’s a church which is a very personal thing. But I think it was very nice of the new owners to give families and individuals the right to purchase their windows if they chose to do so.”
Another historical symbol – the bell of St. Anthony’s – is also in the care of Holy Trinity Parish.
The artifact was quietly removed from the Gulch bell tower last year and thoughtfully crafted into a monument that stands in the front of the East Trail 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).
With St. Anthony’s now in the history books, it’s interesting to look back at the parish’s original rules, listed in a 1939 church booklet (copy) provided by Trail Museum and Archives Manager Sarah Benson.
Notably, the Nelson diocese owned St. Anthony’s until it was sold this year. 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 structure was ravaged by fire in January 1943.
“Despite the intense cold of an early wintry morning,” an October 1943 souvenir booklet states. “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 that year.