St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church
St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church was built in the Illerbrun District in 1915.
Father Terence Caraher was the first priest. The trustees were: William Illerbrun, Nick Ruetz, and Joseph Sand. The church was built on the N.W. ¼ 9-11-18. This land was owned by Mr. Valentine Voll. Mr. V. Voll and his son Jake did the main construction with help of many of the parishioners. The stone foundation was made by Mr. Al Flach, who was a stone mason. This church was heated in winter by two “pot-belly stoves.”
In 1925 a partial basement was dug under the church by Jack Flynn and John Schrieber. This was dug large enough to house the coal furnace and several tons of coal and kindling. Joseph and Mike Sand put in the foundation and steps to this basement. They also built the chimney.
In 1926 a bell was bought and set on a trestle stand outside the church. This bell came from St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
In 1948 a steeple was erected to the church and the bell was then put in its place. This was a parish undertaking, but being a high structure not all could do this work. This was mostly done by Charlie Illerbrun, Harold Grubbe, and Mike Sand under the foreman Geo Hawkins.
In 1950 two gas furnaces were installed. The interior was then paneled. In 1955 the roof was reshingled and the outside of the church was painted.
Excerpt from Simmie Saga, Simmie & District History Book Club, 1981
Bell Moved From Steeple
On Nov. 21 some former parishioners gathered at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church at Illerbrun to remove the bell from the steeple. The church was built in 1915 and was in regular use until June of 1988 when it was officially closed. The floor under the bell was becoming unstable and it was feared that the bell might fall through the floor and be damaged on the concrete below.
The bell was removed with the help of a bin crane, the use of which was donated by Sask. Wheat Pool at Shaunavon.
This bell is an impressive artist’s masterpiece. It is solid brass and weighs about 1,000 pounds. The base edge is 6 inches thick. The walls approximately 2.5 inches thick. The bell is 28 inches high and 36 inches across the bottom.
The bell was cast in 1926 for St. Anthony’s Church. It was placed on the second floor, above the church entrance, for about two years and was then mounted on a frame in the yard. In 1948, the steeple was completed and the bell was placed in it. The bell was rung before every Sunday mass as well as for funerals. It could be heard eight to ten miles away.
The bell will be placed on a concrete pad in the St. Anthony’s Church graveyard along with a commemorative plaque.
The Shaunavon Standard, January 16, 1996
The church was open for a total of 73 years with 14 different priests serving there. The church is also known as Illerbrun Church, as it is located in the area known as Illerbrun District, so called after three brothers who settled there.
After the church closed, the Grand Coteau Heritage & Cultural Centre received a large donation of decommissioned artifacts that were used at St. Anthony’s Illerbrun Church. Many of these items can be seen on display in our Heritage Exhibit area.