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History of St. Barbara Catholic Church  (founded 1882)


by Bill Van Wolvelaere


Points of interest in the history of St. Barbara’s Parish, Vulcan.


Early registers show:


Church built in West Vulcan in 1882—served by priest from Norway’s St. Mary’s.


1887—First Priest to be assigned to St. Barbara’s, Rev. Dominic Vento.


First Baptism was that of Aloysius Joseph Stanchina, son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Stanchina, born October 8, 1887; baptized October 9, l887 by Father Dominic Vento.


First marriage was that of Frank Sala and Cathaerine Bertolo on October 7, 1887.  Witnesses were Henry Bertolo and Margaret Knott.


First Burial was that of Valentine Wegher, January 25, 1888.


April 9, 1925—St. Barbara’s Catholic Church on Church Street in West Vulcan (actually within the Norway City limits) was destroyed by fire.  The nearby rectory was saved.   Valuable vestments and all church equipment were destroyed.  Only $l0,000 of insurance was carried.  Parish boundaries included most of Norway’s third ward (east of C &NW crossing) and East Vulcan.      


The parish sold raffle tickets and one lucky parishioner became owner of the rectory.


September 1925  A central location was chosen for the rebuilding St. Barbara’s of Vulcan.  Construction started in the fall of 1925 and took 5 years to complete.  The church and rectory would be of Tudor Gothic design.  The church proper was 120 x 55 feet with 33 feet at the highest arch.  It would comfortably seat 600 persons.  The priest’s home and office had l0 rooms—which included a sun porch and 5 upstairs bedrooms.  The buildings were built on a picturesque knoll in central Vulcan—the surrounding property was reserved for a park or parish grounds.


October l930—One thousand people attended the formal dedication of St. Barbara’s Catholic Church.  The church was overfilled—some stood in the aisles, others found room in the entrance or on the front steps.  The Rt. Rev. Bishop Nussbaum of Marquette was the guest speaker; Father Dooley of Norway’s St. Mary’s was the Master of Ceremonies.  The Bishop praised the members of the parish for their patience during the building program and for their courage in building and financing a beautiful church. Father Simon was cited for his leadership.


October 6, 1934   The occasion was the dedication and blessing of the Barton organ that had been recently installed in St. Barbara’s.  The organ was purchased from the Colonial Theatre of Iron Mountain with funds from the children of the parish.  The program opened with the blessing from Father Simon followed by an organ recital by Edward Hickey of the Braumart Theatre accompanied by a select choir from Iron Mouintain.


1966 St. Stephen’s Catholic Church of Loretto became a mission of St. Barbara’s.  On January 11, 1971, St. Stephen’s was destroyed in an early morning fire.  Subsequently, the Bishop of Marquette consolidated the Loretto and Vulcan churches into St. Barbara’s of Vulcan.  (Complete histories of St. Stephen’s and St. Mary’s of Faithorn will be reviewed in future museum selections)


July l972  Father Steve Mayrand became pastor.  Through his efforts and that of the Altar Society, a yearly Mardi Gras Celebration was held that featured a dinner, raffles, and games designed to raise money for parish projects.  An abbreviated list of improvements follows:


1972—The interior of the rectory was redecorated.

1973—Landscaping of church property and a new paved parking lot completed.

1975—Lady of the Highway Shrine was erected—paid for by a private donation, work done by men of the parish.

1975—Elmer Tinti built a garage and an addition to the rectory.

1976—Parish hall and kitchen remodeled, new equipment added.

1977—New wiring for the church and a marble statue added to the Lady of Highway Shrine.

 l981 –Murphy Decorating of Dubuque, Iowa and Hazelgreen, Wisconsin hired to renovate the interior of St. Barbara’s.  Two coats required 200 gallons of paint.  Also, at this time, all statues in the church were refurbished and wall-to-wall carpeting installed.


1982   This marked the 100th year anniversary of St. Barbara’s Catholic Church in Vulcan.  Under Father Steve’s ambitious plan, a celebration took place.   More next week on the church’s centennial festivities along with the history of the most recent 25 years.


The following young people from St. Barbara’s entered the service to the Lord:


Bishop Most Reverend Rudoplph Orler, born in Vulcan, November 29, 1882, died l948.


Rev. Julius Valentinelli born in Vulcan, March 28, 1897.


Rev. Arnold Casanova born in Vulcan, May 2l, l921—elevated to a Very Rev. Msgr. In Feb. l959, and a Domestic Prelate Right Rev. Msgnr. in January l964.  Died Sept. 23, l971.


Rev. Donald Rudolph Zanon born in Vulcan July 4, 1938 and ordained a priest in Rome December l5, 1964


Rev. John Martigon—ordained Sept. 14, 1984


Sister Mary Herlanda (maiden name Albert) entered the convent in l907.   Sister Mary Lorettine (maiden name Rosatti) entered in 1909, Sister Mary Thaddea (maiden name Albert) in 1914, Sister Mary Thaddea (maiden name Van Wiele) in 1932.  Sister Mary Arthur (maiden name Crantz) entered in l950.


Last 25 years (1982-2007)


Planning for the l00th anniversary began as early as l972 with a number of capital improvement projects, i.e. parking lot, church redecorating, an addition to the rectory, basement and kitchen remodeling, and the Lady of the Highway grotto.  As the anniversary date approached, particulars were addressed that involved all members of the parish, and at the same time, recognized the pioneers of the parish, both clergy and laity.


100th Anniversary


A celebration marking a century of worship at St. Barbara’s Catholic Church in Vulcan took place on June 26 and 27, l982.  The festivities began on Saturday with a 5 p.m. solemn Mass with the Most Reverend Bishop Mark Schmitt as celebrant.  Pastor of St. Barbara’s, Father Mayrand was the co-celebrant.


The mass was sung by members of the Senior Choir under the direction of Dick Corn with accompaniment by Bernice Sala.  Following the service, members of the community were invited to an open house buffet in the church hall.


The celebration continued on Sunday morning with a l0 o’clock outdoor mass celebrated by Father Steve at the shrine of The Lady of the Highway.  The folk group under the direction of Barb Nora provided the music.  A barbeque chicken dinner followed on the church grounds. Walter Gunville and Bill Marinelli served as chairmen.  From 1 to 5 p.m. a street dance was held in the parking lot.  Games were played—refreshments served.  General chairperson was Mrs. Walter Gunville.


Pictures, news articles, and other memorabilia depicting St. Barbara’s history were on display in the church hall.  In conjunction with the l00th anniversary, parishioners were asked to contribute “items” to be placed into a time capsule.   The vault was then buried in front of the church and is scheduled to be raised and opened on the l25th anniversary—July this year.  This historic moment will occur on July 1 on the front steps of St. Barbara’s.  Plans are being made to refill the capsule with items from 2007 –bury it until the l50th anniversary in 2032.


Priests to serve St. Barbara’s in the last quarter of the century were Father Steve Mayrand, Father Ray Hoefgen, Father James Hebein, (during Father Hebein’s illness—Father Jerome Nowacki and Father McQuestin/ Father Ben Parish from St. Mary’s), Father Bill Callari, and Father Joy Joseph Adimakkeel.


Father Steve Mayrand 1972-retired l984


Preceding Father Mayrand at St. Barbara’s were Father Przybyiski, Father Ruppe, Father Brewer. Many of us can recall a short priest of French decent with a pronounced New England accent who by his leadership instilled a comfortable and friendly atmosphere in the parish. He preferred to be called Padre Steve—and it was soon apparent, he was a perfect fit for St. Barbara’s.


On June 20, l941, Steve P. Mayrand was ordained by Bishop Cushing in Framingham, Massachusetts. He was a native of Dover and a member of a well-known family.  He came to St. Barbara’s in July of l972.  He immediately became involved with all aspects of the church and was aggressive in upgrading the church and its properties.  His persuasive manner at times upset the more conservative members of the parish.


Father Steve was a promoter – for his church and the Norway Vulcan Lions Club of which he was an active member.  Prior to the annual parish picnic—the yearly pre-lent Mari Gras was the social event of the year for the parish.  Inaugrated by Father Steve in the early 70’s, it flourished for l7 years and was a major fundraiser for St. Barbara’s projects.  At Lake Mary Day sponsored by the Lions, Father Steve, mingling in the crowd clutching a handful of raffle tickets, would seek out potential “customers”—and how do you say NO to a priest!  Father also enjoyed bowling and golf.


He retired and moved to Hamilton Lakes in1984.  In retirement he enjoyed travel, his friends and his time on Lake Louise.  The new pastor was Rev. Father Hoefgen.   


Rev. Father James Hebein


He was known as an intelligent religious man, who from time to time enjoyed a game of golf.  Father Hebein was born in Iron Mountain in 1931.  He graduated from St. Lawrence Seminary in 1949.  His undergraduate work was done at St. Lawrence; his Masters Degree at the Catholic University in Washington D.C.  He also studied in Rome and while there was ordained to the priesthood in 1957 by Archbishop O’Connor.


Father Hebein was assigned to St. Barbara’s in July l986.  His previous assignments were in Escanaba, Ironwood, Kingsford, Iron Mountain, Alpha, Hubbell, Painesdale, and the missions of Nahma, Isabella, Cooks, Foster City, Amasa, and Dollar Bay.  He also served as an instructor at Holy Name High School in Escanaba.   Other responsibilities included:  Diocesan Director of the Legion of Mary, spiritual director of the Apostolate of Our Lady Fatima, chaplain to the Carmelite Nuns of Iron Mountain, and assistant at Holy Family Orphanage.


His ministry at St. Barbara’s was shortened by illness   In  1994 Father Jerome Nowacki was temporarily assigned to Vulcan to assist the ailing Father Hebein.  Between July 1995 and July 1997 priests from St. Mary’s in Norway (Father Grambow, Father McQuesten, and Father Paris) served the needs of St. Barbara’s parishioners.   In July 1997 Father Bill Callari became the pastor of St. Barbara’s.  


After treatment for cancer and stroke rehabilitation Father Hebein became a resident of Vulcan and a member of St. Barbara’s.  He continued to offer mass as a substitute priest at St. Barbara’s and surrounding parishes.  Father James Hebein died at Marquette General on January l9, 2000.  His funeral mass was held at St. Barbara’s with retired Bishop Mark Schmitt concelebrating with several priests of the diocese.  Burial was in Iron Mountain.


In 1995 a directive from the Marquette dioese closed St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Faithorn. For many years the Faithorn church had been a mission of St. Barbara’s and was served by the Vulcan/Norway priests.  Members of St. Mary’s were encouraged to join St. Barbara’s or St. Mary’s of Hermansville—most families opted to come to Vulcan.


Father Bill Callari


Father Callari was born and raised in Escanaba and was one of four children.  He attended St. Ann’s and St. Joseph’s parochial schools and graduated from Escanaba High School in l954.  His ties to Vulcan were that his paternal grandparents raised l8 children in the Vulcan area.  At age l9 he entered the Brothers of Pius X and after extensive schooling was assigned to dioceses in Wisconsin and Iowa.


Brother Callari enjoyed his work championing his vocation as a “beautiful and unique calling.”  Although he could teach and counsel, as a brother he was powerless to administer the sacraments.  Ultimately, after 20 years a decision was made to leave the Brothers and seek a second career—that of a Catholic priest.  He entered Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and received his diaconate in l978.  On April 29, 1979, at age 43 William P. Callari was ordained at St. Louis the King Church in Harvey, Michigan, a church where his brother Father Joseph Callari was the pastor. His first assignment was as Associate Pastor in Sault St. Marie.


In l980 he was assigned to Houghton—serving St. Ignatius, St. Albert the Great, and campus ministries at Michigan Tech.  It was a sad day on June 29, 1997, when Copper Country parishioners said goodbye to their priest, friend, and community leader, namely Father Bill Callari.  Houghton’s loss was Vulcan’s gain.  Father Bill received a warm welcome in Vulcan—he assumed duties here in July l997.


Using his 20 years experience as a brother and nearly 20 years as a priest, he began to unite the parish family.  He did so in obvious and subtle ways.  He called upon young and old to donate their talents to the church whether it be raking the lawn or becoming a Eucharist minister.  The young joined him on the altar in prayer or attended “little people church”—high school students and moms taught CCD—and dads prepared Mother’s Day breakfast, etc. etc.


Father’s homilies were short and to the point—often on hot summer days he would “forget” to prepare a sermon.  He enjoyed parish gatherings—so he revived the parish picnic.  He encouraged gatherings after mass in the church hall for coffee and rolls.  On special occasions, Father decorated the altar with balloons—then made sure every child had one as a gift.  As an avid Detroit Lion fan—he teased the green and gold.  He enjoyed his ministry; his parish family responded with cooperation and respect.


In trying times, his kindness and compassion lifted those sadden or bereaved. Father was very protective of his church and parishioners.  He wanted improvements, yet was unwilling to burden the parish with debt.  Somehow, he redecorated the church, upgraded the sound system and lighting, added a handicap bathroom and a handicap entrance to the church hall, remodeled the kitchen and church hall (now called the Father Callari Hall), and added to rectory new office space and a conference hall.


At age 65 Father Bill contemplated retirement, and even though he was suffering with back problems continued his devotion to St. Barbara’s.  In the summer of 2004 he informed his parish of impending surgery and rehabilitation.  While convalescing from surgery at Mary Hill Manor in Niagara, Father Callari suffered a fatal heart attack.  He died in Marshfield at St. Joseph’s Hospital on Sept. 29, 2004.  A Mass of Resurrection was held at St. Barbara’s with Bishop James H. Garland as principal celebrant.


Father Bill’s proudest day as a priest was on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as a priest.  Unable to par down the guest list to the anniversary dinner, he invited everyone in the parish and all his friends.  He wanted this day to be special and he wanted to share it with those that meant most to him.


Credits:  Ann Zanon


Father Joy Joseph Adimakkeel


The sudden passing of Father Bill Callari in September 2004 stunned the faithful at St. Barbara's. Not only had they lost their pastor of seven years, but also a friend, a friend who put the needs of the parish before his own health. Add to this, the uncertainty of a replacement. Due to a shortage of priests, the diocese at the time was exploring a plan to consolidate churches/parishes. Would St. Barbara's be the part of a reorganization plan?


Fortunately, there was no such plan at this time. In November 2004 Father Joy Joseph Adimakkeel arrived in Vulcan to serve as the 33rd pastor of St. Barbara's. Small in stature, well versed in religion and world affairs, and with some English communication problems, Father Joy began the process of adjusting to his new parish—and they to him.


Fr. Joy was born in Kerala, India, on December 17, 1955. In the tenth grade he joined the St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary. He was ordained December 1980. His first assignment was as an assistant with three other priests. In 1984-1999 he served as pastor in three different India parishes. In 2000 he began preparations to come to the United States. In 2001 the Marquette diocese assigned him to St. Joseph and St. Patrick' Parish in Escanaba as an associate pastor. He also spent 3 years on the eastern end of the Peninsula in Grand Marais, Curtis and Geinifast before coming to Vulcan.


Father enjoys travel and uses his vacation time to see the world. He is well versed in Catholicism, as well as other religions, and enjoys sharing his diverse experiences. He finds American humor most challenging—Father Joy continues to practice his jokes on the most understanding church members.


History Expanded


While the history of a country is often remembered by the elected president, and of the church, by its priest or minister, there is more to history than the leader. History is also about the people who faithfully participate in activities, assume leadership roles, and financially support its existence. Unfortunately, most (names) will not be mentioned at this time; nonetheless, their imprint on history can be found between the lines.


It would be difficult to cite all who have been instrumental in the growth and success of the parish. However, the Legion of Mary and an ageless, dedicated organist merit recognition.


Legion of Mary


The local chapter was formed in September of 1968 under the direction of Father Thomas Ruppe, a pastor who served between 1966 and 1971. This group, the Mother of Good Council Praesidium of St. Barbara's Church, meets weekly for I 'h hours and has for nearly 40 years. Its work is evangelistic. Active members are asked to provide two hours of "good work" each week. This includes visits to shut-ins, hospital patients, and nursing home residents. Working with the elderly, volunteering at St. Vincent DePaul, and monetary assistance to the needy are other examples of charity provided through the Legion of Mary.


The group has active and auxiliary members. According to Mary Van Goethem, an original member of the Legion, there are currently 7 or 8 active members and 175 auxiliary members. Auxiliary members are not necessarily from St. Barbara's, but are committed to spending time in prayer for the intentions of the group. Periodically, auxiliary members are invited to a local meeting. Father Hebein at one time was a member of the St. Barbara's chapter and at the same time was the diocesan director of the Legion of Mary.



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