Behold, and take heart

St. Louis over the years - parish memories

Charlotte Pytlinski Collins
Jim and Irene Sirokman
Joe and Marie Kelly Smolski
Roy and Lucille Troxell
Syl and Margaret Walorski
Mary Walsh
Rosemary Wiemeyer
Ruth Woodman
 
Charlotte Pytlinski Collins

My family's involvement in St. Louis Parish began with my dad's 1910 arrival in Englewood. As a young man he was instrumental in working with Father Hagus to establish the parish. Those details are included in his account: "The Birth of St. Louis Parish". He recorded his memories in 1961 at age 69. On this occasion of the 100th Anniversary of St. Louis Church, I am going to share my own memories of growing up in the parish. Since St. Louis Church had no school in 1926, I attended 1st grade at Lowell Elementary in the 3500 block of South Sherman Street, now the Masonic Hall. For 2nd and 3rd grades, my parents decided to enroll me at St. Francis de Sales to learn more about my Catholic faith. That is where I made my first Communion. I rode the street car from Floyd to Alameda by myself — imagine that! Sometimes my grandmother would pick me up after school in her Model A Ford.

In the Fall of 1929 when two Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sister Teresa Agnes and Sister Mary Bernard, were brought to open a school with grades 1st through 4th I entered in the first 4th grade class. As we advanced to the next grade level, the teacher remained with our class. Sister Teresa Agnes was my teacher for grades 4th through 8th. I was a member of the first graduating class and our class picture is in the 2011 calendar. I have many good memories of those four years attending St. Louis School. My long street car ride was replaced with a short walk — cutting across the vacant lot on the NW corner of Floyd and Grant Streets. I enjoyed being able to come home for lunch and I loved having Sister Teresa Agnes as my teacher. She made me want to be the very best student and kept us motivated by setting up goals and rewards. For example, every Friday after lunch she'd read to us from a preselected book and then we'd discuss what she had read. We looked forward to every Friday to learn what happened next in the story. That instilled in me a love of books and reading for personal enjoyment.

I still have my Baltimore catechism, bible history book and a mass booklet which I made. At graduation I was given a Roman Missal by Msgr. O'Heron for having the highest grade average - 98%. Every year the Englewood community held a May Festival and each local school was asked to select a May Queen. One year I was chosen to represent St. Louis. My younger twin sisters served as my attendants. There were many other school events taking place during these years. For example, to take the place of PE when I was in 7th grade, the O'Neil sisters, Marge & Peggy, were hired to teach us exercises, games and dancing. This all took place in the basement of Concordia Hall. I especially enjoyed the dancing - tap and ballroom - and really enjoyed performing with George Atkinson as my partner. My mother, grandmother and aunt enjoyed making all the costumes. Many of these activities I used later when teaching junior high school.

I was very fortunate to have nuns as my teachers from 2nd through 12th grade and many as my college instructors. My family was privileged to have a special relationship with the nuns at St. Louis. This began with my dad or my grandmother, Clara Whitcomb, taking turns picking them up on Sundays at St. Catherine's convent in North Denver and bringing them to St. Louis to teach catechism on Sundays. When the convent opened, we were allowed to attend early morning mass with the sisters in their chapel. We especially did this during Lent. The Sisters felt comfortable with calling on our family for any of their needs. This included borrowing our roller skates for their own use in the convent basement. They borrowed our croquet set so often to play in their back yard that we soon gave it to them. Msgr. O'Heron is the only pastor that I remember. My dad was closely involved with him in planning the school and later as a member of the Holy Name Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of Columbus. Monsignor was a frequent visitor in our home and he loved teasing my twin sisters. They enjoyed a game of hiding from him. When he came in our front door, they would run out the back door and go next door to our grandmother's to hide. He would follow them. Later years, some of the young assistant priests would also join our family just to visit in the evenings. I remember several occasions when my other family members would retire and leave me up to visit until midnight. They seemed to enjoy being part of our family.

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Like my dad, my mother, Catherine Pytlinski, also shared her time and talents with the parish and school. As the PTA president, she was always planning ways to fund-raise. I remember when Mother bought a big beautiful doll to be used in a fund raising raffle for the school. I thought about how nice it would be to win it but then I wouldn't be allowed to keep it anyway. That year our Christmas tree was first used for a party at the school. Our family decorated it there and Dad covered it with a sheet afterwards to bring it home. One evening while my sisters and I sat enjoying its beauty, it toppled over! Growing up I observed the adult female family members' contributions to the Altar and Rosary Society. This all began in 1911 when my dad's sister, Vanda Mathews, served as the group's first secretary - treasurer. In Oct. of 1961 she was recognized at the church's 50th anniversary celebration as one of the few founders still living. I remember my grandmother, Clara Whitcomb, scrubbing the sanctuary floors on Saturdays while I played in the choir loft. (Little did I know that one day I would be there playing the organ for services.) She also took care of the altar linens and the priests’ and servers’ surpluses. My mother, grandmother and aunts contributed beautiful handiwork to the yearly festivals and bazaars that preceded the "Jubilees" as fund raisers. I remember that one year they made enough items to have their own booth. Their names are listed as Perpetual Members on a plaque that hung in the church vestibule.

After my college graduation in Ohio, I renewed my involvement in parish activities. The parish's Young People's Club provided opportunities for picnics, dancing, skating, hiking, bike riding, swimming, horseback riding, etc.. These social activities allowed the young adults to meet and enjoy the company of the other young parishioners. No need for internet dating! I also joined the Marian Sodality where the young single women of the parish would promote devotion to the Blessed Mother. We held monthly meetings that included planning a May Crowning that was attended by the parishioners and followed by a Mothers’ Tea. While serving in the office of Prefect I was honored to crown the Blessed Mother. The young women's choir provided music for a Sunday mass every week. We met at the convent one night a week to practice. I played the organ and there were enough members to sing soprano, alto and contralto. My sisters also participated. Sister Joan of Arc directed us. I have never forgotten one particular Christmas Midnight Mass. This was during the war years. We began practicing in the convent in September. The reward was a Church service more beautiful than I have ever seen. My membership in the parish ended on June 25, 1949 when I was married there, but many happy experiences have always remained a part of me. Congratulations to St. Louis on your 100th anniversary!

Jim and Irene Sirokman

Jim and Irene Sirokman moved into St. Louis Parish in the late 1930s. They were parishioners for more than half a century. Jim died in 1989 and Irene in 2002. Their lives were rich and full with the gifts of faith and family. They were the parents of seven children: Robert, Nancy, Mark, Jim, Mary, Bill and Ed. All the children attended St. Louis School. Living right around the corner from St. Louis Parish, the lives of the Sirokman family revolved around parish life. Many sacraments were celebrated in the parish. Numerous First Communions, Confirmations, Confessions, and two weddings were part of their lives at St. Louis. Many masses were served by the Sirokman boys. Lots of Jamborees were avidly enjoyed by all the family. The church of the forties had angels on the ceiling and colorful statues of the saints, a delight for little children's eyes.

Joe and Marie Kelly Smolski

Marie and Joe Smolski, now deceased, were born in Linwood, Nebraska in 1922. They came to St. Louis Parish in 1953. They selected St. Louis because of the location. Their children didn’t attend St. Louis School because the enrollment was too full at that time. Marie and Joe were the first co-presidents of the St. Louis Social Club. Joe was a member of the St. Louis Choir and worked Bingo once a month. He did everything with much enthusiasm and joy. Father Roger Mollison was remembered as a very kind, nice, sweet guy who understood people. He was patient while visiting with Joe who had alzheimers. The benefit of belonging to St. Louis is that it feels like you are part of a large family. It is a comfortable place to express your faith.

Roy and Lucille Troxell

Roy Troxell was born in Osborn, Kansas and his wife Lucille was born in White Cloud, Kansas. They moved to Colorado in 1946 and have been members of St. Louis Parish since 1950. The Troxells have many fond memories of all the priests who were always eager to help when help was needed. At one time Roy brought a horse to the Jamboree so the kids could ride it. They will also be remembered by their involvement with the St. Louis Social Club dances. They, along with Marion and Al Renner, would serve late night suppers which were delicious. In addition to the Social Club, they were also part of the choir, PTA, Altar and Rosary, and the St. Vincent House Committee. Lucille was treasurer of the St. Vincent House Committee for many years and has been in charge of the bus to Black Hawk. Roy and Lucille’s advice to our young parishioners is to go to church and get to know people. You will make many friends.

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Syl and Margaret Walorski

Syl Walorski was born and grew up in South Bend, Indiana. His wife Margaret was born and raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas. When they moved to Englewood in 1958 they bought a house in St. Louis Parish and became members. The Walorski’s have fond memories of Fr. Roger Mollison who brought a spirituality to St. Louis that they had never experienced before and it brought their faith to life. Fr. Reycraft holds a special place in their hearts for organizing pilgrimages during the Holy Year and making it possible for them to visit many of the designated churches around the state. Fr. Reycraft also led a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrines in Europe and they were able to go. These pilgrimages deepened their faith.

The Walorski’s have been active in numerous aspects of parish life for many years. Syl was involved with the Men’s Club, was co-leader of the Explorer Scouts, coordinator of the St. Louis Men’s Retreat at Sedalia, and a member of the Knights of Columbus. Margaret was president of Altar and Rosary, room mother chairman for the PTA, liturgy chairman, and co-chairman of the Annettes with Eleanor Smith. She also helped Rosemary Wiemeyer with the Eucharist Ministers’ schedule to the homebound and inherited the job when Rosemary had to retire. Priscilla Jeffers and Margaret started a Youth Group in the 1970’s when they had teenagers. When their son was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder the Walorski’s received the prayer support from the Risen Christ Prayer Network. Because of this experience Margaret wanted the people of St. Louis Parish to have that same support in their time of need, so she started the St. Louis Prayer Network in 1988. Both Syl and Margaret were in the church choir, lectors and Eucharistic Ministers, presidents of the Mr. & Mrs. Club (which is now the Social Club), belonged to the P.T.A., worked bingo when it first began, helped with Christmas decorations, and served on the St. Vincent House Committee.

All five of their children attended St. Louis School and four graduated from the 8th grade. Syl and Margaret feel the greatest benefit of being members of St. Louis Parish is the long-lasting friendships and the support and family feeling that they have received through the years. St. Louis came to their rescue many times but especially when Margaret had surgery during a flu season and the Annettes (which was started and run by Rita Kukral for many years) brought food in for the family for two weeks. Advice the Walorski’s have for the young people of our parish is to recognize the many blessings received from being involved with parish work which come from working with people with the same ideals and beliefs as you have. It is from St. Louis Parish that you get your support.

Mary Walsh

Mary Baker was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and moved to Englewood in 1955. Her favorite priest was Father Roger Mollison. He was like a saint walking around. When her husband Jim Walsh died, Father Roger was so sympathetic and considerate of the situation. Mary was involved with the Share Program at St. Louis for 15 years. She was also a member of the Social Club and the Annettes. She was a Eucharistic Minister and worked Bingo. All three of her children attended St. Louis School. Mary’s advice to our younger parishioners is to get involved in order to get to know people.

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Rosemary Wiemeyer

Rosemary Wiemeyer was born in Detroit, Michigan. She and her family moved to Englewood in 1950. Rosemary was a member of the Sodality, Legion of Mary, Rosary Makers, and Altar and Rosary, in addition to belonging to St. Anthony and St. Catherine Circles. She was secretary of Altar and Rosary in 1970 and served as its president in 1975. Rosemary also worked with Sister Karen and helped Sister organize the Eucharistic Ministers to the homebound. She did the schedule for several years. Whenever there was a need in the parish, Rosemary responded whether it was helping with the housing for migrant workers in Ft. Lupton, helping Father Gaston with his needs in Africa, or donating the Carillon Bells to St. Louis in memory of her family during Father Roger’s time. Father Roger was her favorite priest. Her most cherished memory was attending a mass at Father Roger’s Retreat House when, during the consecration, a breeze came and rang the wind chimes. Rosemary inherited Father Roger’s dog, Buttons, when Father had to go on disability. Belonging to St. Louis has brought Rosemary closer to God. Her religion has made God more personal and brought her much happiness and many friends. Her advice to all parishioners is that stewardship is very important.

Ruth Woodman

Ruth Young was born May 7, 1924 to Lester and Josephine who lived on S. Cherokee, just blocks from St. Louis Church. It was very important to the Youngs that their children be raised in the Catholic faith and they joined the parish around 1925. Ruth graduated from St. Louis School in 1938. She had two older brothers who also graduated from St. Louis, Bob in 1936 and Joseph in 1934. Sister Agnes and Sister Frances were favorites of hers. She has wonderful memories of school and feels she received an excellent education. In 1946 Ruth married Bernard Woodman and had six children. She now has 17 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. None of her children attended St. Louis School because the Woodmans moved into St. Bernadette’s Parish. To the younger members of St. Louis, Ruth would like to say that they won’t find a better education anywhere than that offered right here.

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