“The wagon lurched as the wheels dipped into a rut in the road, snapping Vince Prawdzik out of the reverie he had drifted into along the past few miles. The steady clip-clop of the horses hooves, the autumn sun on his back and the fresh smell of the river as the breeze occasionally wafted its way into his senses had lulled him into a quiet meditative mood as he rolled along muddy West River Road.”
So begins the book; “THE FIRST ONE HUNDRED YEARS A story of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Belmont, Michigan.” It is a story of some blood, plenty of sweat and a few tears as fifty Polish and Irish Catholic farm families started with a hand-me-down church and grew to a suburban parish of 1200+ families. To celebrate the centennial of the church, Don Siegel had the idea of publishing a history book of the parish. Jim Wisnewski is doing the writing, John Stuive, the layout and assembly, while Mike Watkins, assistant archivist for the Diocese of Grand Rapids is collecting data and old pictures. Jim Herdigan took hundreds of contemporary photographs for the book. They are all parishioners and their cooperation exemplifies an underlying theme of the book which celebrates the community or family spirit of the parish.
Although the book is history, with the usual facts and figures and dates and activities of some long-dead people, the book is written as a story, following a variety of different characters through the decades. Woven into the book are anecdotes and stories of lives revolving around a parish community and the changes occurring over the years. Many drawings and photographs are interspersed in the text to support the narrative. The group hopes to have the book finished and for distribution by September or October of this year.
A year-long celebration of the centennial will kick-off with a Spring Carnival at the school on Friday, May 17th and special activities at the week-end Masses. Other events planned are a Golf Outing in June, and in August, a procession led by a horse-drawn wagon with artifacts from the old church which was transported from St. Adalbert’s in Grand Rapids. A Parish Cookbook is in the making and an auction and an International Dinner as well as other activities are being planned during the year. Culmination of the year will be a Parish Mission taking place at the church, May 3rd through 8th of 2014 and a closing Mass on May 31st, 2014.