Remembering the past: It is important to celebrate and to learn from history Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

Several articles in this week’s Catholic Herald made me think about the importance of history and why we should pay attention to it.

Many people today take life one day at a time. They don’t want to look back at the past or even think about the future. The here-and-now is all that counts.

The 18th century Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke said,  “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” By learning about previous mistakes, we can try to avoid them.

However, I’m not sure I totally agree with Edmund Burke. Not all history is bad. There are many good things that happened in the past that are worth remembering and celebrating.

Families keep the faith alive

Among those are positive experiences of our families and our faith. In more recent years, I have been doing more genealogical research on both my father’s and mother’s side of my family.

Since my father died when I was 16 years old and many of my ancestors are deceased, it took some digging to find out more about my relatives on his side of the family.

My research led me to Holy Rosary Parish in Darlington, where I discovered that my grandparents and great-grandparents are buried. All of them are of Irish descent. In fact, when my dad married my mom — who was  German — it was considered a “mixed marriage,” even though they were all Catholic!

I was able to copy some of the parish records, many of which were in Latin. I found my father’s baptismal record, on which was listed his marriage to my mother. Bishop George Wirz, our late auxiliary bishop, helped supplement my high school Latin in translating the records.

Those early ancestors of mine who brought their faith from Ireland kept it alive in the “new world.” They passed that faith along to subsequent generations, including my father, who had a deep love of the Catholic Church.

Parish celebrates 150th anniversary

This year, Holy Rosary Parish in Darlington is celebrating its 150th anniversary (see the story in this week’s paper). People in that small community have nurtured families and the Catholic faith through all those years.

In addition, Holy Rosary School is observing its 100th anniversary (the school was actually founded in 1915). Congratulations to all of those who continue to support the parish and school in Darlington.

Civil War chaplains

Another story in this week’s paper also focuses on history. It is about Fr. Bruce Hennington, a retired priest of the Diocese of Madison who is a Civil War reenactor. Interestingly enough, one of my great-grandfathers buried in Holy Rosary Cemetery was believed to have served in the Civil War in a Lafayette County unit.

My great-grandfather was fortunate to survive that war, because it is estimated that there were over 600,000 casualties in the Civil War. Because of poor record-keeping, historians now place the total casualties as high as 850,000.

Chaplains played an important role in the Civil War, as they do in all wars. When the war began in 1861, there were about 2.2 million Catholics in the United States. Some 123 priests served as military chaplains during the war.

Although we mourn those lost in the Civil War and all wars, we know that chaplains help keep the faith alive among the troops during these challenging times.

I encourage all of us to study the past, to celebrate the good things that have happened and to learn from the mistakes so that we can look to the future with faith and hope.