Close-knit St. Aloysius Parish celebrates 125 years in Buckley

  • Written by Michelle Bruno
  • Published in Local
Father Anthony Davis carries the Eucharist while processing with the congregation of St. Aloysius during the Buckley parish’s 125th anniversary celebration.  Photo: Patty Rumpza Father Anthony Davis carries the Eucharist while processing with the congregation of St. Aloysius during the Buckley parish’s 125th anniversary celebration. Photo: Patty Rumpza

BUCKLEY – It was hot the morning of Aug. 6, but that didn’t keep Bill Rumpza from dressing in his fourth-degree Knights of Columbus regalia. Rumpza wouldn’t miss being part of the honor guard for a eucharistic procession celebrating the 125th anniversary of his parish.

St. Aloysius 1893
The congregation of St. Aloysius Mission gathered for this 1893 photo. When the first Mass was said in 1892, the church windows hadn’t yet been installed. Photo: Courtesy St. Aloysius Parish

Rumpza and his wife Marieta have been parishioners of St. Aloysius since moving to small-town Buckley 37 years ago. “As soon as we showed up, they knew we were new,” Marieta said. “They were very welcoming.”

Today, St. Aloysius has about 100 registered households. “I think everybody cares for everybody else there,” Bill said. “Everybody helps everybody else.”

It’s not hard to imagine that same spirit among the original St. Aloysius congregation of loggers, farmers, coal miners and businessmen 125 years ago.

From mission to parish

The parish had its beginnings in the 1880s, when the town of Buckley (originally called Perkins Prairie) was settled. Mass was occasionally offered in a second-story hall of a downtown residence, according to a St. Aloysius parish history culled from files and the memories of senior parishioners.

In months when there was a fifth Sunday, Father Charles DeDecker of St. George’s Indian Industrial School (present-day Gethsemane Cemetery in Federal Way) traveled the 20 miles to Buckley to celebrate Mass for the faithful. Some of them brought their children to the Indian school to be baptized.

After fire destroyed 12 downtown Buckley buildings in 1892, including the one where Mass was said, Catholics began gathering for Mass a few blocks away, in another upstairs hall. In 1891, Father John Rohlinger, pastor of then-All Saints Mission in Puyallup, was assigned to care for the Catholics in Buckley. He performed the first recorded baptism in town.

interior St. Aloysius in 1950s and todayLeft: For decades, wagon wheels formed the light fixtures at St. Aloysius Church in Buckley, as seen in this photo from the late 1950s. Photo: Courtesy St. Aloysius Parish. Right: The interior of St. Aloysius Church includes woodwork crafted by parishioner Bill Rumpza: the canopies over the altar and statues of Mary and Joseph, as well as enhancements to the ambo, altar and tabernacle stand. Photo: Patty Rumpza

St. Aloysius was designated a mission in 1892 and a church was built. Over the years, the mission was attached to parishes in various communities — Puyallup, Enumclaw, Black Diamond and Sumner. Only one priest has been known to celebrate his first Mass at St. Aloysius: Father Aloysius McHugh, a son of the founding Michael McHugh family, according to the parish history.

In 1952, Maryknoll Father John McLoughlin (assigned to St. Barbara Parish in Black Diamond) thought St. Aloysius “showed some promise of development and would warrant a resident priest,” according to the parish history. So he purchased a house across the street from the church.

Two years later, the mission was designated a parish by the archdiocese, and Father John Horan became its first resident pastor. In the 1960s, a parish hall and CCD center were built two blocks away to accommodate the needs of the growing parish.

St. Aloysius BuckleySt. Aloysius Church was moved two blocks to its present location in 1982, so it could stand next to the parish hall and CCD center. An area for outdoor Mass is included on the grounds, where the crucifix stands in the background at far right. Photo: Patty Rumpza

In 1982, then-pastor Father Hervey Vanasse had the church moved to consolidate the parish buildings on one site.

Since joining the parish in 1980, Bill Rumpza has helped enhance the church interior with his woodworking skills. Besides building a canopy over the altar and improving the ambo, the altar itself, and the tabernacle stand, the 86-year-old recently reframed the Stations of the Cross at the pastor’s request, to make them more noticeable on the church walls.

‘The biggest change’

As St. Aloysius prepared to celebrate its 125th anniversary, more change occurred: Father John Ludvik, pastor for six years, retired at the end of June.

Eucharistic procession
Father Anthony Davis carries the Eucharist while processing with the congregation of St. Aloysius during the Buckley parish’s 125th anniversary celebration. Photo: Patty Rumpza

“We’re a small parish and change comes really slow,” Rumpza said. “The biggest change comes with a change in pastors.”

Father Anthony Davis, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Enumclaw, became St. Aloysius’ priest administrator, while Father Clarence Jones was named parochial vicar and Deacon Raymond Daigh was assigned to the parish.

Another change for the parish is the recent closure of its mission church, Our Lady of Lourdes in nearby Wilkeson. To welcome parishioners from the mission, St. Aloysius has added a Mass and installed carved statues from the mission church in the sanctuary at St. Aloysius.

St. Aloysius anniversary displayParishioners peruse photos from 125 years of St. Aloysius Parish history. Photo: Patty Rumpza

St. Aloysius’ anniversary celebration, which included the annual parish picnic, was Father Davis’ first time to meet parishioners.

“For me, the congregation is quite engaging and exciting, so I’m really looking forward to a good ministry there,” Father Davis said. “Together we will build up the kingdom of God.”