St. Barbara celebrates 135 years

The parishioners of the church of St. Barbara in Vulcan marked its 135th anniversary at Mass on Sunday.

VULCAN — The parishioners of the church of St. Barbara in Vulcan celebrated its 135th anniversary at Mass on Sunday with the principal celebrant Bishop John Doerfler of the Diocese of Marquette. A breakfast buffet was served after the Mass.

It was the opening of the iron ore mines that brought an influx of settlers to Vulcan. The pioneers, mostly Catholic, were of diverse nationalities. The miners and their families were obliged to attend Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in Norway.

In 1882, a Tyrolese group banded together for the purpose of having a church built in the Vulcan location.

The Penn Mining Company leased them a 124-by- 116-foot lot as the site for the new church. Their earnest endeavors soon gained the favor of the public, and a small church, under the patronage of St. Barbara, was the result.

The pastors of Norway came to say Mass on Sundays until Oct.8, 1887, when the Rev. Dominic Vento became the first resident pastor. The first baptism was Aloysius Joseph Stanchina, son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Stanchina. The first marriage was that of Frank Sala and Catherine Bertolo. The first burial was that of Valentine Wegher.

The first church stood on its original site until spring of 1925, when on Holy Thursday, a fire occurred that completely destroyed the structure.

After the fire, the Rev. Simon Borkowski arranged to have Masses at the Vulcan Town Hall. Plans immediately were made to build the present church and rectory at the current site in Vulcan. The new church was completed in 1930.

Many men of the parish helped with the construction of the new church. The women of the St. Anne’s Altar Society had many fundraisers.

They have since taken into their parish the families of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Loretto after a disastrous fire completely destroyed their church, and the families of St. Mary Catholic Church in Faithorn after the closure of their church.

St. Barbara has been served by 38 pastors, currently by the Rev. Timothy Ekaitis and associate pastor the Rev. Binu Joseph.