VIRGINIA — Ashley Fugere had always dreamed how her wedding would be. She would enter the church sanctuary through double doors and float down the aisle in a beautiful white dress, to the man who would become her husband.
And she and her intended, Mark Dabbas, had dreamed of a wedding at St. John the Baptist Catholic Chapel in Virginia. “We chose St. John’s because it reminded us of the churches we saw when we were traveling across the United Kingdom,” Mark and Ashley Dabbas said from their home in Fayal Township. “It was also part of Holy Spirit Church which Ashley’s family attended since she was a child.”
But there was a bittersweet note to their wedding celebration. St. John’s — which for a century had been the home parish for Virginia’s immigrant families, many of them from Poland — was slated for demolition. And Ashley Fugere and Mark Dabbas would be among the last couples to be married there.
The date of the wedding was July 22, 2017, with a reception following at the Range Recreation and Civic Center in Eveleth.
As for the bride’s dream of entering through double doors, Ashley was pleased. The Rev. Brandon Moravitz, priest at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, would grant her wish. “Father Brandon said they would close the double doors to the church just before she would walk down the aisle. She became filled with so much excitement that the one thing she always pictured came true for the wedding day.”
They told more of their story. “When we first heard the church was being torn down, we weren’t even married yet. We looked at each other and said, ‘Well, that’s not a good sign, ha!’ Father Brandon then told us we should have a plan B in case they tore it down. As it got closer, we found out that the demolition of St. John’s was not happening until after our wedding, and we were relieved. We are a little saddened that it is gone. However, we feel honored we were one of the last couples to get married there.”
They said St. John’s had really been a beautiful church with its “stunning stained glass windows, which Father Brandon made sure to talk about and relate to our wedding... and the craftsmanship of the altar would leave you breathless. It was like a scene from a movie as we watched each other from down the aisle. We really could not have picked a better place to get married.”
They listed the wedding party. Maid of honor was Kasie Johnson, and best man was Demetri Johnson. Bridesmaid was the bride’s sister, Mallory Fugere, and groomsman was Andrew Roberts. Bridesmaid was Jess Maki, and groomsman Ryan Lovaas. Bridesmaid was Samantha Tveit, and groomsman Tanner Gritzmacher. Junior bridesmaids were Abbey DeLao and Claire Owen, and junior groomsman was Collin Owen.
Parents of the bride are Rodney and Diane Fugere. Parents of the groom are Hank Dallas and Su Dabbas.
The couple described highlights of the day. “We were able to have some of the kids ring the bell after the ceremony. It almost took two of them just to pull the rope to ring the bell! We enjoyed seeing all our loved ones come together for our special day.” Mark Dabbas added, “Ashley’s parents got us a limo for the wedding party to take from the ceremony to do outside pictures and then to the reception.” Ashley added that the colors for the big day were peacock-themed as she loves the colors of their feathers.
Mark and Ashley Dabbas — now married a year and a half — said, “We will truly miss St. John’s Church.” But it “will always be a beautiful memory to us.”