RAMA..….This tiny village of 75 souls† could become known as the Village of the Three Saints. Thanks to the generosity of two local families and the efforts of St. Anthony’s Parish Council, statues of Saints Gianna Beretta Molla, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Theresa, stand in a group beside the church. With the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes on the west side of the church and the three saints on the east, the church is bracketed by awe inspiring symbols of the faith commitment of Rama’s population.
Rama was settled by Polish immigrants in the late 1800s to early 1900s. It is located in east central Saskatchewan in the parkland area of the province about an hour’s drive northwest of Yorkton. Soon after the first settlers arrived they began building signs of their faith, a church, then a grotto made of stones gathered from the surrounding fields. The grotto was completed in 1941 and since then an annual pilgrimage has been held on August 14 and 15 - the feast days of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – and has over the years attracted thousands of people.
Casmir and Maria Broda, strong pro-life supporters wanted to erect a roadside sign promoting pro-life. St. Anthony’s Parish Council was approached and after a brainstorming session came up with the suggestion to the Broda’s of a statue of pro-life saint, Gianna Beretta Molla. The Broda’s, including their son Gordie and daughter-in-law Barb, agreed to the statue and donated the funds to have the statue built.
“We did some extensive research into materials, artists, sculptors and suppliers and eventually settled on Ferdinand Stuflesser1875, an Italian company with an excellent reputation,” said Mary Kowalyshyn, a member of council who coordinated the project. “They arranged for a sculptor and agreed to a delivery date in time for the annual pilgrimage in 2012.” White Carrara marble, the most expensive marble and only quarried in Italy, was to be used. Unfortunately, the sculptor died before the work began and another sculptor was not readily available. Their research turned up other sculptors including one that may have been a scammer. “He wanted all the money up front,” said Mary Kowalyshyn, “and the references he provided were dubious at best.”
Ferdinand Stuflesser 1875 suggested a bronze alternative with a white patina finish; however, it was more expensive but, because of the unavoidable circumstances they agreed to the same price as the marble. “The company was really good to us,” said Kowalyshyn. So, the statue was built and arrived in time for the unveiling and blessing by the late Archbishop Dan Bohan, August 15, 2012.
Parish council was again approached by Casmir Broda who wanted a statue of St. Pope John Paul II built alongside St. Gianna. Council agreed and suggested that a statue of St. Mother Theresa be erected on the other side of St. Gianna. It would make the location symmetrical with all three strong supporters of pro-life and all three were canonized in the 20th century. It all came together with an official unveiling and blessing of all three saints, by Archbishop Donald Bolen at the August 15, 2017 annual pilgrimage.
†2011 Stats Canada records Photo Courtesy of Enroute Photography, Yorkton