Rick Keating/Catholic SentinelFr. Basil Lawrence, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Silverton, holds the time capsule the parish community hid behind the church’s cornerstone in 1947. It was uncovered during the renovation of the church.
Rick Keating/Catholic Sentinel
Fr. Basil Lawrence, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Silverton, holds the time capsule the parish community hid behind the church’s cornerstone in 1947. It was uncovered during the renovation of the church.
SILVERTON — It was merely a coincidence that Bryan Pfeifer was working as the superintendent for Dalke Construction on the remodel of St. Paul Parish. The Silverton resident was once an altar boy at the parish that his son now visits for youth group. But in early February, that coincidence became something much more.

As his crew carefully removed the old cornerstone from the church’s brick facade, one of the crewmembers came up to him, telling Pfeifer there was a copper box behind the stone.

Pfeifer had worked on other remodeling projects. He knew what it would be: a time capsule. He’s discovered time capsules twice before, both times behind church cornerstones. But this discovery was different.

Inside the box was an envelope inscribed with his grandfather’s handwriting. Pfeifer’s grandfather had built the church 70 years earlier, in 1947.

“There was a sense of pride,” says Pfeifer. “It was a good feeling.”

Pfeifer’s grandfather had written on the envelope the contents of the time capsule: cornerstone, history of the church, local paper, old coins, list of donors.
Pfeifer had known that his grandfather had built the church, but neither he nor anyone else in the community knew there would be a time capsule hidden within the building’s foundation.

“I was surprised,” says Benedictine Father Basil Lawrence, administrator for the parish.

Father Lawrence was pleased to see the box’s contents, but he was especially pleased to see the list of donors that included many names of families still attending the church.

“To see that kind of continuity in family ties is really moving,” he says.

Everyone in the parish, from the children to the older parishioners whose parents are listed as donors, has embraced the time capsule.

“It’s a beautiful tribute,” says Annie Schaefer, St. Paul office manager.

Discussions have evolved from excitement at discovering the piece of history to what modern artifacts current parishioners can add to the time capsule for future generations to find.

“We’re eager to add to it,” says Schaefer.