I previously wrote in this column about some of our past with regards to standing on the shoulders of giants such as Fr. Kelly and Madeline Grimes. I also shared history about some of the remodeling that had been done in our current church. Without our past, we would have no orientation about our present or future. Yet, at the same time, if we stay in the past, we run the risk of being paralyzed into doing nothing about the needs of the present or future. This time around, I would like to focus on one individual whom I had the privilege to speak to at length regarding the history of our parish, Bob Busch.
As I asked Bob some questions about the history and changes that have happened and the remodeling that has taken place in our church, he jokingly shared, “We’ve remodeled that church a hundred times.” As you might remember, I have shared that in the process of analyzing the current church building, the first thing that was noted was that the stress on the roof was great due to the sheer weight of the ceramic tiles. What I didn’t know, but Bob shared, was that he personally delivered all those red tiles from Portland to Grants Pass and assisted in installing them. He shared that they were incredibly heavy, and the work to put them on the roof was difficult. He reminisced about how the original building had no wood anywhere, just cinder block and steel. After Fr. Kelly moved on, his successor, Fr. Singleton, hired an architect to bring some beauty into the church, thus the steel ribs in the ceiling were covered in redwood paneling and the back of the sanctuary was ribbed with oak paneling. One can still see the remnants of the wood from the sanctuary just above the walkway entrance behind the sanctuary. Also, (this one is mostly for us men), did you know that the door to the men’s bathroom had to be custom made, for the doorway was smaller than a standard doorway? Bob also shared with me that the parish had two altars installed at the present church, one out front, which is the one we see today, and another one behind (located behind our current work sacristy behind the previously mentioned walkway. It was raised up to make a high altar which could be seen through sliding glass doors. Daily Mass was originally offered in there with the congregation located in what is now the Reconciliation Chapel. In those days, he reported, few attended daily Mass.
Stay tuned for some more tidbits and treasures of our past in a coming bulletin.
Fr. William Holtzinger