DAUBY — On Sunday, July 10, St. Peter Parish, Dauby, celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The event opened with morning Mass, which Bishop James P. Powers concelebrated with Fr. Paul Pare, pastor.
Afterward, parishioners moved to the Benoit Community Center to watch a 40-minute narrated digital slide show called “A Steeple Will Pierce the Sky.” The projection of 250 digital photos covered the span of the church’s history from 1916 to 2016.
The choir then led 150 attendees in the singing of an anniversary song, “God Bless St. Peter’s,” which told the church’s story in 21 verses.
The day concluded with a catered roast beef and chicken dinner.
St. Peter was formed to serve the Slovak and Croatian immigrants in the rural area west of Ashland. The first Masses for the area were said in the home of the Henry and Bertha Zehren family, located in the ravine across CTH F from the present church.
Construction of the church began in 1914 on land donated “up on the hill” by Bart Zehren after a donation of $500 was obtained from the Catholic Extension Society. Parishioners did much of the construction.
The interior was finished two years later, and Bishop Joe Koldelka, who had donated the altar and statues of St. Peter and St. Paul for the church, came to bless it in September 1916.
St. Peter’s was affiliated with Iron River until 1938. In the early days, the priest came for Mass every third Sunday and occasionally on the fifth Sunday of the month. At times he would ride the Northern Pacific train from Iron River to Ashland Junction where pioneers like John Hnath would pick him up in his Model T Ford and take him to Dauby.
In 1938, St. Peter’s was attached to Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Moquah, with the building of the rectory there.
In 1945, with 90 families in the parish, the church was enlarged and remodeled. Construction began in 1947 on a partial basement, large sanctuary and new sacristy — all of which were completed the following year. The old portion of the church was re-plastered and electrified, and reroofed. Pews were refinished; new stations of the cross, lights, altar and tabernacle, and carpeting were added.
In 1989, St. Peter became a part of a cluster of six parishes known as Our Northwoods Catholic Cluster with central administration at Iron River.
More improvements to the church and cemetery took place in ensuing years. A shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes was constructed in 1971-72. Two hand-carved statues of cararra marble were donated by an anonymous West Coast benefactor and set into a grotto made of field stone brought in by parishioners.
Cemetery administration was placed in the hands of an elected committee. A decorative fence and blacktop roadway, along with extensive landscaping, were projects completed in the 1970s. With the purchase of a riding lawn mower, lawn care was then turned over to a hired worker.
Renovations continued into the 1990s and the new millennium: the addition of a kitchen facility and social hall, steel exterior siding, repainting of the interior of the church, replacing of the carpeting and roof.
Throughout the years, numerous organizations, some devotional, some instructive, including the Holy Name Society, Christian Mothers, Altar Society, Knights of Columbus, Bible study classes, and CCD classes, along with the service of 25 priests, helped make St. Peter what it is today.
The parish also sponsors an annual harvest dinner, socials after its Sunday and Thursday Masses, and occasional dramatic and informational programs
In September 2013, the parish was honored by Bishop Peter F. Christensen to host his fifth anniversary as bishop and as spiritual leader of the diocese.
In the summer of 2014, St. Peter, along with its neighboring parishes — St. Florian, Ino and Ss. Peter and Paul, Moquah — became a part of the Ashland Catholic Cluster.