Archive for the ‘Parish History’ Category

Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Following the Vigil Mass of the Immaculate Conception (Friday, December 7th), two new members of the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers were formally received into the local Confraternity, which was established at St. Mary Church, Salem in 1896 – two years before the cornerstone of the current church was laid:

His Excellency, Bishop Swain, Names “Pilgrimage Churches” for the YEAR OF FAITH

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012


Hanging Sanctuary Lamp Restored to Central Axis of our Church’s Sanctuary in Salem!

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Antique Sanctuary Lamp Given to the Glory and Honor of the Eucharistic Christ and in Loving Memory of Lois Hipschman

The late Lois Hipschman (October 26, 1938 – March 30, 2012) was taught as a child that one could always tell a Catholic church from a Protestant church by the Presence of the Lord Jesus in the tabernacle and because of the sanctuary lamp hanging in the center of the sanctuary.  As a youngster in 1946, when Msgr. Weber redecorated the church and removed the hanging lamp for the more convenient free-standing sanctuary lamp-stand, she was a little disappointed.  When she passed away in March, her family asked if they still made hanging sanctuary lamps and, if one was available, could they donate it and its installation in memory of Lois.  Well, the Pastor told them that they are still made….and, yes they could donate one in her memory.

The sanctuary lamp hanging in the center of our sanctuary is an antique, dating from 1890.  Now, well-over 60 years later, the sanctuary lamp again hangs in the center of our sanctuary, signifying (along with the tabernacle veil) the True Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Our Parish would like to thank Lois’ family for their donation, those who installed the lamp…and, of course, our dearly-departed sister, Lois: May the radiant light of Christ, like the light radiating from the sanctuary lamp, guide you to Heaven, the happy home of the saints and the place of eternal light.

Nota Bene:  In the last photos, you can see the fleur-de-lis finial at the base of the Sanctuary Lamp.  This finial arrived later, and was added just this past Saturday, September 1st.   For those who are interested, the Lamp is lowered and raised by way of an electric wench installed in the attic, with a key-operated control behind the Reredos of the Altar.  This electric device is designed to raise and lower large chandeliers one would find in large ball rooms or convention centers, thus avoiding the need for scaffolding each time the light bulbs needed to be replaced.


Statue of St. John the Baptist – The latest addition to St. Mary Church

Friday, August 17th, 2012


…as the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, June 24th, was commonly called in the native land of the 3rd and longest serving Pastor of our parish (1897-1956), Msgr. Bernard John Weber. June 24th was also the Feast chosen for his Ordination to the Holy Priesthood in the Year of Our Lord 1893. In preparation for the 120th anniversary of his Priestly Ordination next year, and in honor of the approaching Year of Faith called by our Holy Father (which begins this October), an admirer of our late but well remembered Pastor (who wishes to remain anonymous) donated a beautifully restored statue of St. John the Baptist to our church.  May this magnificent statue – which has been installed between the Holy Family Altar and the pulpit and portrays St. John pointing out the Lamb of God – serve as a reminder to the homilist of his duty to lead others to Christ. It will also serve as a reminder that all of us are called to a daily conversion of heart and mind through the Blood of the Lamb, Who takes away the sins of the world.

May the approaching Year of Faith, as well as the upcoming 120th Anniversary of Msgr. Weber’s Priestly Ordination, be an incentive for us to cooperate with God’s grace, grow in our love of the Catholic Faith and renew our commitment to participate in the life of our parish community.

Parish Patronal Feast: Mary, Help of Christians

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

When our parish was founded in 1885 by the Rt. Rev. Martin Marty, Vicar Apostolic of the Dakota, he placed the parish in Salem under the patronage of Mary, Help of Christians.

Mary, Help of Christians

As Mother of God’s children, Mary has responded by helping Christians throughout the ages. She has done this by coming to the aid of individuals, families, towns, kingdoms and nations.

In 1214 she gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic as a weapon to combat the Albigesian heresy which was devastating Southern France. It is very clear to Christians and it is also the Will of God that we have and will continue to have the Help of Mary through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

In the year 1531 Our Lady appeared in Mexico to an indian named Juan Diego. He was a humble peasant aged 51. As a result of the apparitions, over 10 million indians were converted to Catholicism, the sacrificial killings of babies stopped, and Our Lady left an image which is a reflection of herself imprinted miraculously on the tilma of Juan Diego.

In 1571 the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when faithful Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.

Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna. Pope Innocent XI united Christendom against the ominous attack of Mohammedanism. A great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians. On September 8th, Feast of Our Lady’s Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out “Mary, Help!” and praying the Holy rosary.

In 1809, Napoleon’s men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Pope smuggled out orders from prison for the whole of Christendom to pray to Our Lady Help of Christians, and thus the whole of Europe once again became a spiritual battle ground, not of arms against ruthless arms, but of Rosaries against ruthless military might. Soon Napoleon was off the throne and the Pope freed from prison.

After proving her maternal help, throughout the centuries, Our Lady has continued to appear in hundreds of places throughout the world mainly during the 20th century, Lourdes and Fatima being the most famous apparitions. She has brought help from Heaven, and has warned her children to do prayer and penance as a formula for peace. She has stressed that her children must pray the Holy Rosary daily.

(Thanks to for the above article). 

June 19 – 21: Triduum in Honor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

We just finished our Triduum in Honor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ, beloved Patron of Catholic Youth and favorite Saint of Msgr. Weber, who built our church and parish schools, placing them under the heavenly protection of St. Luigi Gonzaga.  See pictures of St. Aloysius’ Altar decorated for the Triduum of Prayer below.  The devotions we use in his honor can be dowloaded by clicking here:  D E V O T I O N S St. Aloysius


May 24: Patronal Feast of Mary, Help of Christians

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Our Parish and Parish Church are officially dedicated to Blessed Mary ever-Virgin under her title, Auxilium Christianorum, or Help of Christians:

The feast of Mary, Help of Christians, May 24th, was instituted by Pius VII. By order of Napoleon, Pope Pius VII was arrested, 5 July, 1808, and detained a prisoner for three years at Savona, and then at Fontainebleau. In January, 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free on the vigil of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy (September 23), the Patroness of Savona. The journey to Rome was a veritable triumph. The Supreme Pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress to the Blessed Virgin Mary, visited many of her sanctuaries on the way and crowned her images (e.g. the “Madonna del Monte” at Cesena, “della Misericordia” at Treja, “della Colonne” and “della Tempestà” at Tolentino). The people crowded around the venerable Pontiff who had so bravely withstood the threats of Napoleon. He entered Rome on May 24, 1814, and was enthusiastically welcomed. To commemorate his own sufferings and those of the Church during his exile, he extended the feast of the Seven Dolours of Mary (September 15) to the universal Church. When Napoleon left Elba and returned to Paris, Murat was about to march through the Papal States from Naples; Pius VII fled to Savona (March 22, 1815), where he crowned the image of Our Lady of Mercy.

After the Congress of Vienna and the battle of Waterloo, Pope Pius VII returned to Rome, July 7, 1815. To give thanks to God and Our Lady he instituted for the Papal States the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, to be celebrated on May 24, the anniversary of his first return. Soon, the Dioceses of Tuscany adopted it (in 1816) and others followed.

This feast of Our Lady is also the patronal feast of Australia, and in accordance with a vow (1891) is celebrated with great splendour in the churches of the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris. It has attained special celebrity since St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian Congregation, dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians (and the title of the mother church of his congregation at Turin). The Salesian Fathers have carried the devotion Our Lady under this title all over the world.

Quasquicentennial Video & Photos now on-line

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The video and many photographs from our Quasquicentennial Celebration on July 4, 2010 are now online in the PAGES section of this blog (on the right hand column).  You may also go to it by clicking

Schedule for July 4th Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Mary Parish, Salem

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

For the Schedule of the day, click here:  July 4th Quasquicentennial Celebration

Sisters of the Presentation BVM

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin were founded on Christmas Day in 1775 by Nano Nagle in Cork, Ireland, to teach poor children.   When not teaching, they also ministered to the sick. 

The Catholic Church in South Dakota has a long history with the Presentation Sisters, beginning in 1880, when they arrived in the Dakota Territory from Dublin, Ireland, to teach the children of the Lakota Indians and the French settlers in the area.  During their first year they experienced the isolation and suffering of the blizzard of 1880.

Eventually, the community grew!  The Sisters began teaching throughout what would soon be the Diocese of Sioux Falls.  The also openend and staffed Catholic hospitals, the most famous being McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.

You can learn more information on the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by visiting the website of their South Dakota Motherhouse in Aberdeen:

St. Mary, Salem was never blessed with having the Presentation Sisters staff our schools.  The first Religious Sisters to staff our schools (and for the longest time) were the Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  For a few years, we had the Bernardine Sisters of Loretto, PA.  The third and last group of Religious to teach at Salem were the Benedictine Sisters from Yankton, South Dakota.  

However, in the early 1960’s, during the tenure of the Benedictines, St. Mary High School was honored with the presence of two Presentation Sisters: Sister M. Anne, PBVM (pictured below, photo on the right), taught Social Studies and Biology, and Sister M. Suzanne, PBVM (photo on the left), taught English and Government.  The photos below are from the 1962 yearbook of St. Mary High School,  Marylight.