Holy Trinity, Ironwood
By Reverend Darryl J. Pepin
In 1907 the Slovakian, Croatian, Slovenian and Bohemian members of St. Michael Church in Ironwood petitioned Bishop Frederick Eis for a parish of their own. The group raised a good sum of money and by January 1909 final permission for a new church was received. The first pastor of Holy Trinity Parish was a Slovak priest who was originally from Pennsylvania, Father Stephen Ulrich. He remained as pastor for only a year. Following him was Father Peter Sprajcar in 1910. Father Sprajcar oversaw the completion of the church. So well did the work of building a new church proceed, that the first Mass was said in Holy Trinity Church on Jan. 2, 1910.
Just two years later the church sanctuary was enlarged to accommodate an increased number of parishioners. A large sacristy was also added. The sacristy was later used as a winter chapel. A parish rectory was begun in 1913 and was completed in 1914.
Shortly after Holy Trinity Parish in Ironwood was formed, membership grew to the extent that an addition had to be made to the church. This was completed in 1916.
In 1932, Fr. Sprajcar was transferred to St. Joseph's Church in Calumet and Fr. Carl J. Petranek was appointed pastor. Many improvements were made to the church during his tenure as pastor. The entire interior of the church was redecorated and new lighting was installed.
During the early 1950s the parish hall underwent major renovations to add a modern kitchen. In the next two years the exterior of the church and rectory were renovated.
In 1943, Father Petranek succeeded in establishing a catechetical school and had the Slovak Dominican Sisters of Oxford, Michigan to serve as teachers. In order to provide for the increasing number of parishioners, more Masses were added and a Franciscan priest from Pulaski, Wis., offered Holy Trinity's pastor assistance with Sunday worship.
In 1948, Father Petranek took up a new assignment while Father Ambrose Matejik became the pastor.
In 1952 parishioners purchased a home on West Ayer Street for use as a convent.
Holy Trinity celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1960. A commemorative Mass was held Sunday, Aug. 28 of that year with Bishop Thomas L. Noa presiding. A souvenir booklet was published in connection with the anniversary. At that time, the parish boasted of many young men and women from Holy Trinity Parish who went on to pursue religious vocations.
Father Matejik served as pastor until 1969 when he suffered a heart attack on May 21 of that year. It was then that Father Joseph Kichak, a local boy, came to serve as pastor. During his tenure, many changes and renovations were made to the church and rectory. During his short term of two years, the two grade schools in Ironwood were amalgamated and the three parishes worked out an agreement to all support the grade school and high school.
In 1971, a former associate came back to Holy Trinity to serve, as it's next pastor. Fr. Matthew Nyman came, not only was he pastor of Holy Trinity, he also oversaw the operation of the high school. He was transferred in 1973.
The seventh pastor of Holy Trinity Church came in the person of Father Joseph Polalowski. He set about the work of continuing to update the church to reflect the changes that had come about from the Second Vatican Council. It was during the parish's diamond jubilee of seventy-five years that Father Polakowski celebrated his own silver jubilee as a priest. The parish family had two celebrations in one!
In 19___, Fr. Polakowski was transferred and Father _________ came to succeed him. It was the work of Fr. __________ to aid in the consolidation of the three Catholic parishes in Ironwood. With a declining economy and population, mine closings, the shortage of priests, Holy Trinity Parish was merged in 1986 with the other two parishes of Ironwood - St. Ambrose and St. Michael's - to form the new Our Lady of Peace Parish. The former St. Ambrose Church building was selected as the new parish's house of worship.
Sadly, the now closed Holy Trinity Church was put up for sale. When it did not sell, it was demolished. Many of the furnishings were given to other parishes, not only in our diocese but also to other parishes outside the diocese. The rectory, however, was sold to a private owner and it still stands.
As mentioned previously, the Slovak Dominican Sisters of Oxford, Mich., came to the parish in 1943 to begin a catechetical school for the young people. The women were later called upon to staff the Holy Trinity-St. Michael Grade School, which opened its doors to first through fourth grades in 1962. One grade was added every year until there was the full compliment of eight grades.
The people of Holy Trinity worked hard to maintain their facilities and support the school. But by the 1980s, the Catholic population of the city was not great enough to feasibly support three separate parishes and two grade schools and a high school. That, combined with a priest shortage, led to the creation of the unified grade school system, and then named Ironwood Catholic Grade School which was housed in the Holy Trinity-St. Michael School building, while the high school which was in an old, outdated building moved into the former St. Ambrose Grade School building. Then in 1986 when the three parishes of Ironwood - Holy Trinity, St. Michael and St. Ambrose - merged, Our Lady of Peace Parish was formed and, when Ironwood Catholic High School closed in 1986, the grade school was moved into the former St. Ambrose Grade School/Ironwood Catholic High School building.
With the move of the school programs to another building, the Holy Trinity-St. Michael School building was sold to a private owner who then renovated the school into apartments.
Records for Holy Trinity Parish are located at Our Lady of Peace Church in Ironwood.
Father Stephen Ulrich 1909-1910
Father Peter Sprajcar 1910-1932
Father Carl J. Petranek 1932-1948
Father Ambrose C. Matejik 1948-1969
Father Joseph A. Kichak 1969-1971
Father Matthew G. Nyman 1971-1973
Father Joseph Polakowski 1973-1985
Fathers Emmett Norden & Paul Mandersfield (co-pastors) 1985-1986