Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kaposvar, the Formation of a Distinct Hungarian-Canadian Identity

After celebrating the Assumption of Mary into Heaven at Rama, we moved on to Esterhazy for the Annual Pilgrimage at Kaposvar. Kaposvar is about 4 km from Esterhazy in a very beautiful Saskatchewan setting.

The Parks Canada program for the presentation and blessing of a plaque given by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada states that the first Hungarian settlements in Canada were, almost without exception in what would later become Saskatchewan causing many to refer to the province prior to 1914 as "Little Hungary."

"The arrival and settlement of Hungarians at Esterhazy-Kaposvar represented one of th earliest (1886) ethnic block settlements in the Canadian West, one that has left a strong and ongoing historical and cultral legacy. Small rural communities such as Esterhazy-Kaposvar largely defined the Hungarian-Canadian experience from the 1880's to the 1920's, when more than two-thirds of Hungarian-Canadians lived in Saskatchewan."

"For decades, the spiritual and communal heart of Hungarian Settlement in Canada was at Esterhazy-Kaposvar where the church, rectory, cemetery and shrine provided a focal point. The settlement continues to bge viewed as the cradle of Hungarian life in Canada and a place of pilgrimage each August." (Parks Canada)

Standing with me on my right is Stan Maga of the Kaposvar Historical Society and on my left Eugene Goncy.

The women also were displaying traditional Hungarian dress as they welcomed us to the Church.

The interior of the Church is a beautiful example of the early churches in the Archdiocese. Here we see the distinctive Hungarian Saints portrayed in picture and statue and the preserved old altar.

Above are the Lectors for the Mass and Fr. Albert Schmitz, Pastor at Esterhazy and under whose care is the Church and property of Kaposvar.

The Pilgrimage was also the occasion of the Esterhazy Deanery's celebration of the Centennial of the Archdiocese of Regina. The priests of the Deanery were present to concelebrate the Eucharist. From left to right: Fr. Yodel Cereno, Fr. Albert Schmitz, Fr. Francis Plaparampil, Fr. Callistus Ibe. Also present were Fr. Basil Chomos and Fr. Dennis Remot. It was very gratifying to have the prayerful participation of the pastors of the Deanery in this special event.

The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus were also present to form an honour guard and lend solemnity to the occasion.

Following the Mass, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada held a ceremony in Commemoration of the Arrival and Settlement of Hungarians at Esterhazy-Kaposvar. The greetings were delivered by Mr. Allan Duddridge, Saskatchewan Member, Historic Sites and Monuments board of Canada.

It was my pleasure to also bring the greetings of the Archdiocese of Regina to this very special occasion.

Mr. Arlynn Kurtz, Reeve, Rural Municipality of Fertile Belt No. 183 also spoke,

As did Mr. Stan Maga of the Kaposvar Historical Society.

Dr. Frances Swyripa, Historian at th University of Alberta, spoke on the Historic Significance of the arrival and settlement of Hungarians at Esterhazy-Kaposvar.

An address on behalf of the Government of Canada was given by Mr. Garry Breitkreutz, Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville.

A plaque written in English, Hungarian and French was unveiled and presented by Parks Canada to Kaposvar.

The Plaque reads: Arriving in this region in 1886, Hungarian immigrants established one of the earliest ethnic block settlements in the West. From the 1880's to the 1920's, more than two-thirds of Hungarian Canadians lived in Saskatchewanl many in small rural communities such as these. For decades, the Kaposvar church, rectory, cemetery, and shrine formed the spiritual and communal heart of Hungarian Catholic settlement in Canada. With it strong historical and cultural legacy, this community is still seen by many as pivotl to the formation of a distinct Hungarian-Canadian identity.

It was very fitting that this commemoration took place during the Deanery Celebration of the Centenary of the Archdiocese of Regina. Our century old presence in Saskatchewan as a Diocese and Archdiocese is built on the pioneer communities such as Kaposvar and the people who came from different parts of Europe, Canada and the United States to settle here, farm the land, raise families and build not only houses but homes.

These three bell ringers, Laddie Helmeczi, Wilfred Sikora and Dennis Firlola send the sound of the bells out over the rolling countryside around Kaposvar for the Celebration of the Eucharist. For one hundred and twenty some years, the faith of these early Hungarian settlers also went out from their homes and families to all around them bearing witness to lives built on honest values and strength of character with their faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit the ground on which their lives were built. In this Centennial Year, we truly give thanks for these people and those who came after them who continued these values and strengths in our Church and in our Province.


1 comment:

Arpad Andy said...

The article is very informative, the pictures are beautiful. Nice Summary of Kaposvár Hungarian pioneers. Thank you from Toronto