Hundreds gather to mark centennial of St. Peter's Cathedral at Muenster

By Christy Waldner

attendance for the 100 year celebrationOne large blue and white tent and several small tents on the church grounds at St. Peter's Church in Muenster were the site of celebrations as over 450 people gathered July 10 & 11 to mark the 100th anniversary of the historic cathedral building.

July 10, 1910 was the official opening date of St. Peter's Cathedral and 100 years later, guests from as far away as Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. as well as local parishioners and volunteers were on hand to celebrate this milestone.

With the exterior portion of the extensive renovation of the church complete, parishioners proudly displayed the beginning of interior renovation as well. Six of the ten new stained glass windows had been installed on the main floor and the walls and ceilings on the north and south sides of the church were repaired and painted.

A short rain storm sweeping through the church grounds and an hour-long power outage during the event did not dampen the spirits of those celebrating.  Registration began Saturday July 10 and the afternoon included visiting, reminiscing, touring the church and

crowd in tent

cemetery as well as an organized tour of St. Peter's College. Many used the afternoon to check out the numerous silent auction items, which included a number of cleverly designed objects made from the original siding and lumber removed from the church during the exterior renovation. In addition, the Imhoff family donated a print of a painting by Count Berthold von Imhoff, who painted the well-known images inside the building.

A short program Saturday afternoon featured descendents of August Wassermann - one of the carpenters of the cathedral - speaking about its construction. Bert Imhoff spoke about his grandfather's role in painting the interior of the church with 80 life-size figures.

After supper, guests were entertained by the Korte Singers, past parishioners of St. Peter's parish. The Korte Singers were later joined by extended family members to further entice the crowd to sing along. The Bier Tent Gang delighted the crowd with many old songs, bringing back memories for those in attendance.


Mass celebrationSunday, July 11 the church was filled to capacity for morning Mass.  Co-celebrating were Bishop Donald Bolen and past parish priests and guests:  Abbot Peter Novecosky, Fr. Leo Hinz, Fr. Werner Renneberg, Fr. Rudolph Novecosky, Fr. Daniel Muyres (who is the present pastor of St. Peter's parish), Fr. Ralph Kleiter and Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk.

To mark the celebration, Abbot Peter wore the same cross that the first Prior (and then later Abbot) Bruno Doerfler wore.

Standing in the pulpit used by Abbot Bruno Doerfler a century ago at the 1910 opening Fr. Daniel Muyres welcomed all those gathered to celebrate the centennial of the historic church.

"We thank God for the blessings we have received over the past century," he said.

In his homily, the bishop reflected on the history of the community that built up the church and constructed the cathedral in the very earliest years of settlement in the area. 

"This building, built 100 years ago on the prairies, which were just beginning to be settled, was an incredible accomplishment," Bolen said, noting the pride that the community has taken in the building and its legacy of faith over the past 100 years.

Bolen encouraged those attending the anniversary to seek a renewal of their own enthusiasm and commitment to their faith into the future. "This is a time for us to recommit ourselves to the gospel; to rediscover that enthusiasm and the ardor; to give ourselves over again on a daily basis to loving our neighbour, to finding the neighbour, to seeing the persons around us as being our neighbours," he said.

Parishioners representing three and four generations still attending St. Peter's Cathedral read the prayers of the faithful and brought up the gifts. St. Peter's parish choir led the congregation in song.

At the conclusion of the Eucharist, the bishop presented papal blessings to Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his ordination that same day, and to Rev. Leo Hinz, OSB, who this year marked the 60th anniversary of his ordination.

The Sunday afternoon program July 11 was hosted by The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to commemorate the establishment of St. Peter's Colony and Abbey.

Founded in 1903, St. Peter's Colony was one of the largest German group settlements in Canada. The Benedictine monastery established here was one of only two in North America to become an Abbey Nullius, thus functioning as an independent diocese from 1921 - 1998.

The plaque commemorating St. Peter's Colony as a nationally significant site in Canada is now on display at St. Peter's Cathedral. The inscription is written in English, French and German.


St. Peter’s Church is located off of Hwy 5 - ½ km north of Muenster and ½ km east.

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St. Peter's Cemetery. 1/2 mile south of St. Peter's Church