BAR HARBOR — As 96-year-old Wendell Hodgkins looked through the many items and artifacts on display at the new Holy Redeemer Museum on Mount Desert Street in Bar Harbor, he saw a familiar face in one of the old photos – his own.
“He comes to visit his family every summer and found a picture of himself in the museum,” said Paul Saltysiak. “He was serving as an altar boy in 1943.”
Heartwarming moments are among the many intended effects of the museum, which is already attracting residents, parishioners and vacationers.
“The idea of a museum started about six months ago while I was helping clean out some closets in the sacristy and church hall,” said Saltysiak, a member of the parish staff, who has overseen the development of the museum. “There were a lot of nice, old things and, to me, it seemed a shame that they weren’t on display to help people learn about the history of the parish.”
The discovery of the items led to Saltysiak reading about the history of Catholicism on Mount Desert Island and realizing many of the things found while cleaning out the closets tied into that rich history, including:
- A display cabinet containing several chalices, ciboria and Holy Communion patens donated to the parish in memory of their loved ones, some over 100 years old.
- Artifacts from the Tercentenary celebration in 1913 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the first Jesuit mission on Mount Desert Island.
- A set of ornate Mass vestments from the 16th century.
- An old basket made by the Penobscot Native Americans that was donated to the parish.
- Countless pictures and vintage post cards of Holy Redeemer, Saint Sylvia’s Church, Oblate Seminary and the Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima.
- A bronze plaque with the names of all the parishioners who served in World War I.
- Original charters of the parish’s Knights of Columbus (1929) and Daughters of Isabella (1928).
“I explained my idea of having a museum to Fr. Emile (Dubé) and, with his permission, he gave me a room off the vestibule of the church to use,” said Saltysiak.
The museum also houses two of the original stained-glass windows of the church. Currently, a small shrine is being built to St. Katherine Drexel to highlight her connection to the church and the former St. Edward’s Convent and School.
With all of these treasures, it only made sense to share them with the world, including the over 3 million annual visitors to the area.
“I thought we could offer tours of our church and museum,” said Saltysiak. “I met with the historian at the Bar Harbor Historical Society, who has delightfully approved and supported our museum work. It’s been wonderful.”
The museum is still a work in progress, but all are welcome to enjoy its offerings after weekday Masses at the church (Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:30 a.m.) and after the 10 a.m. Mass on Sundays.
For more information about the museum, call the Parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord, of which Holy Redeemer Church is a part, at (207) 288-3535.