Misery In Millet
“Jesus wept” and so are the people of St. Norbert’s Catholic community in Millet, Alberta, weeping. After a tremendous struggle their lovely mission church has finally been closed and sold to a property developer. The congregation learned the sad new at an emergency meeting on Saturday, October 13th. Now they are busy preparing for the end of the landmark for Catholics in Millet and indeed the whole community.
The Catholic community first formed in 1903 when a group of Catholic pioneers in Millet were visited by a Belgian priest, one of a community of Belgian priests who were ministering in Wetaskiwin at Sacred Heart Parish. At this time Millet became a mission of Sacred Heart Parish, and this prompted the community to set about getting a church erected. P.J. Mullen got the ball rolling by donating a piece of prime property, the highest spot within the village at that time, as the site for the new church. By 1906, Catholics in Millet were hard at work fund raising. The Millet community got involved and even a local store owner who was not a Catholic donated a keg of nails and $100, a fortune at that time! The church was built using only donated labour and was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Legal on December 1st, 1907. Bishop Legal praised the whole Millet community for their hard work and generosity.
The church was named after the Founder of the Belgian religious community due to the priests in Wetaskiwin, and as a further honour, their house in Belgium sent over the beautiful statue of St. Norbert that has remained in the church up to the present. Over the years, the people of St. Norbert’s have worked together to maintain and improve the church. In recent memory they have built an extension on the front of the church, fixed the steeple and reroofed it several times. The inside has been lovingly maintained and for its 100th birthday a mural of the Last Supper was painted on the choir loft by a local artist. This artist’s commission was donated to Camp Encounter.
For over 100 years St. Norbert’s has been the home of the Catholics of the Millet area. There have been Altar Societies, Catholic Women Leagues, Catechism classes, prayer groups, luncheons, St. Patrick’s Day Teas, World Day of Prayer celebrations, not to forget to mention Baptisms, First Communions, Marriages and Funerals. Parishioners have run scholarship funds and helped out with many charities in the area. If they heard of a person in Millet that needed help, they were there. Whether it was a crib for a new mom, or driving lessons for a non driving widow, they were there. Many children went to camp courtesy of St. Norbert’s.
Though they are weeping now, the community is pulling together to get the church ready for its demise. They are presently diligently cataloging all the artifacts inside the building as they get ready to carefully disperse them.
There is one last Mass planned, the decommissioning Mass on Tuesday, October 30th at 7pm. All are invited and are welcome to attend. Come help us celebrate 105 years, not of weeping, but of dancing with the Lord in Millet!