The Catholic Women’s League at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Parish was founded in 1922, just two years after the church building was built.
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The Catholic Women’s League (CWL) at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Parish celebrated its 100th anniversary recently by hosting a fashion show highlighting wedding dresses stretching back nearly 90 years.
The group — which began in 1922 — welcomed dozens of people into the church hall on June 11 for two shows, which included tea, sandwiches and goodies. Eight models — including seven from Vanier Collegiate — walked slowly around the hall as the MC spoke about the dresses’ histories.
Along with a fashion show, there was a display featuring nearly 100 pieces of other clothing — wedding gowns, dresses, baptismal outfits, shoes — that highlighted fashion styles stretching back to 1896.
The Moose Jaw Express attended the fashion show’s dress rehearsal the day before to take pictures of the models in the outfits.
The Great Depression
The first dress was displayed at the wedding of Eve (Bolen), Kaip on July 8, 1935 at Holy Angels Church, Pangman. Rose Schenher’s mother is Kaip.
Growing up on the farm during the Great Depression, Kaip’s wedding dress was a special garment made of heavy ivory satin with an A-line floor-length skirt, a half belt at the back fastened with a matching, fabric-covered buckle, puffed elbow-length sleeves fitted to a small cuff with fabric-covered buttons.
The outfit also features a fabric flower corsage to the left shoulder that complements the plain, rounded neckline. Small seed beads form the headpiece which has a gathered veil and a floor-length embroidery on the edges.
Typical of the Depression era, Kaip didn’t own many fancy dresses, so she wore her wedding dress to many dances and events. To hide her farm-work calluses, she wore elbow-length gloves to the wedding.
The second dress was worn by Audrey (Langille) Mokry at her wedding in London, Ont.
Mokry’s satin, floor-length dress is noticeable for its pleated centre bodice with a row of closely stitched, fabric-covered buttons. The long sleeves have a gathered hem and taper at the back. While the veil did not survive the decades, it was trimmed with lace and longer than the dress’ hem, giving it a train effect.
The third dress was from the wedding of Yvonne (Douville) Johner, who married on Dec. 29, 1958 at Notre Dame D’Auvergne Church in Ponteix.
The day was long for the bride, groom, and the entire bridal party, as the ceremony was held in the afternoon, followed by lunch. This was common for Catholic weddings back then, as they were expected to fast until midnight before receiving communion.
Photos were taken in Swift Current. The bridal party returned to Ponteix after the ceremony for supper, followed by a dance. The family farm hosted a gift-opening the next day.
The gown has a flared skirt of polyester with two overskirts of netting, with a hoop to keep the skirt’s shape. The bodice, which is long-sleeved, is made of lace and decorated with sequins beads, pearls, and beads.
Honouring the groom’s mom
The fourth dress was taken from Loretta (Wist), Mayall’s wedding, which took place in Moose Jaw on Aug. 26, 1961.
Because the skirt was not floor-length, but mid-calf, it was called a ballerina dress. The dress has a two-tiered netted skirt made of white lace and covered with satin. The lace bolero is long-sleeved and features three satin-covered buttons at the cuffs. It also covers a simple spaghetti-strap bodice with a pleated satin cummerbund.
The dress was completed with a short net veil that was attached to a beaded Tiara. White cuffed shoes and a red silk rose bouquet complete the ensemble.
After the wedding ceremony, the new couple visited the groom’s mother’s gravesite and left the bouquet there to honour the mother, who died the previous year after falling over the edge of Macdonald Falls in Montana.
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A dress that is rich in history
The fifth gown featured was from Jean Gadica Landry’s Dec. 27, 1974 wedding at St. Joachim Church Edmonton.
The dress was a two-piece ensemble that included a full-length, train-length dress, a cape and jacket as well as a cape. The material is white rayon velvet with etched patterns that give it a shimmering appearance. The dress features a high neckline and a satin round collar. There are satin bands at the ends of the full-length sleeves.
The bodice is fitted, and drapes gently to the A-line from the waistline. To give it a wintery feel, the cape and sleeves have matching white fabric buttons, loops, and the gown, cape, and hood are trimmed in white fur.
Landry’s niece modelled the dress on their 25th wedding anniversary, while Landry wore the cape at their 40th celebration. It was her granddaughter who wore it last summer when Landry taught her grandchildren at Vacation Bible School the sacraments.
Married by a rookie Priest
The sixth dress was from the wedding of Rosalie (Lukan) Boots — the current CWL president — who married on June 25, 1983, at St. John the Baptist Church in Debden.
The dress has a high-waisted chiffon skirt with a small train. The sleeves have long sleeves in sheer chiffon. It also features a stand-up collar and a blouson-style bodice.
The priest who married the couple was a friend, who had been ordained six days earlier. They were the first priest to marry them. This clergyman is Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface.
A big family wedding
The seventh dress was part of the wedding of Lana Schenher Miller, Aug. 15, 1998 at Ascension Church in Calgary. Rose Schenher’s daughter, Miller.
The ivory gown features a sweetheart neckline and a pearled, heavily laced over-bodice. It ends in a dropped-lace waistline. The lace sleeves have a slight gathered look at the shoulders but are still fitted at the elbow. The floor-length dress features a small train that bustles at back for evening activities.
The shoulder-length veil is made of netting with a small edge of ribbon, and the headpiece is made with pearls and small white blooms. It is secured with combs.
Miller had 50 cousins in her first marriage, and the guest list had had to be reduced after her brothers were married. She planned her wedding in August during harvest to avoid that problem. While the groom was overwhelmed by the family’s size, the bride was pleased they could attend and managed to have everyone in the group photo.
Cleaning up a mess
The eighth dress is from the wedding of Joleen (Kayter) Lichtenwald, who married on July 1, 2006 at St. Joseph’s in Moose Jaw.
Lichtenwald’s sister, Michelle Dodd, showcased the dress during the fashion show.
The strapless, floor-length gown has a gathered waistline and a fully beaded train. The bodice is fully embroidered and has straight neckline. To hold the skirt in place, the bride wore a hoop underneath the dress. Unfortunately, it is no more available.
The photographer took a photograph of the bride looking out of the door fifteen minutes before the ceremony. However, her dress brushed against a greasy hinge, leaving a black streak on the dress’ front. Joleen tried to keep her tears from breaking, but her mother intervened with various products.
Watkins Degreaser worked well, while the Tide pen failed.