Archive for Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Holy Family Parish sesquicentennial continues with display in old church

Mary Ann (Scherer) and Rex Nicolay and the wedding dress and suit on display at the old Holy Family Catholic Church they worn when they were married on Oct. 2,1954. For more photos of the parish's 150th celebration, see the photo gallery at right.

Mary Ann (Scherer) and Rex Nicolay and the wedding dress and suit on display at the old Holy Family Catholic Church they worn when they were married on Oct. 2,1954. For more photos of the parish's 150th celebration, see the photo gallery at right.

October 21, 2009

No matter how big and successful a celebration, 150 years of history can't be contained in one weekend.

Those unable to attend Holy Family Parish's sesquicentennial bash Oct. 10 and 11 can still have the opportunity to view the pictures and historical artifacts on display at the congregation's original limestone church at Church and 9th streets. The church will be open to visitors from

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through the end of November with the schedule for Thanksgiving weekend still undetermined.

The Rev. Pat Riley said the display was one of four central features of the parish's 150th anniversary with a mass presided over by Bishop Joseph Naumann, a dinner that drew 500 people and a book of historical photos put together by Janet Campbell.

The book and display in the old church document the history of the parish founded German by immigrant families soon after they arrived at the frontier town of Eudora during the troublesome days of Bleeding Kansas. The pictures show the faith of the congregation through the decades through pictures of weddings, graduations, baptisms, confirmation classes and other parish events.

On display in the old church are photographs and artifacts that reveal not only church history, but its and Holy Family Parish's central place in community history. It is a link that can be found in the names of parish members that trace back to its founding or soon after and can be found in parish records through the decades, Riley said. Those are names still familiar in Eudora, such as Seiwald, Grosdidier, Schopper and Abel.

Riley pointed to one such artifact, the wheel on which on which was used to rock the original church bell, with a story that illustrates that link.

The bell was purchased by members of the parish and others in Eudora when the local sawmill moved to Lawrence to help with its rebuilding following Quantrill's raid of August 1863. The bell was a replacement for the steam whistle that marked 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m., which left with the sawmill, Riley said.

Nearby, is a traveling confessional screen that priests took from stop to stop as they roamed from the many early parishes without a resident pastors. Riley said the first priest to regularly serve Eudora could well have carried such a screen on his visits.

"He was from the Shawnee mission," Riley said. "He was only here one Sunday a month, probably because it took two weeks to get out here and back."

The parish's first resident priest, Alois Mayer, arrived in 1864, the same year the original church was dedicated.

It was the home of the parish until it was it was supplanted by the new church at 820 Birch St., which was completed in 1963.

The old church is still home to a morning mass and biscuit and gravy breakfast the first Saturday of each month, Riley said. He suspects the one Nov. 7 will be well attended.

It is also used for occasional weddings, baptisms and funerals, usually from former parish members who attended church there in their younger days, Riley said.

As for weddings, he warns all brides to be aware there is no running water, and therefore no modern restrooms, in the church, Riley said.

A small room at the church is set aside to commemorate the many weddings that took place there. Julie Stewart, who organized the collection with Mary Lou Hamlin, said one couple married in the church returned for their anniversary on the 150th celebration weekend.

The devotion Stewart, Hamlin, Campbell and LaDonna Ballock, who organized the celebration dinner and decorated the new church with photos, put into the celebration are demonstrated daily by parish members, Riley said. That, too, links back to the parish's early history and the desire of the Catholic immigrants to have a church to tend to their spiritual needs, he said.

"The church is so important to folks they can name every pastor in the parish in order, because it was so important to have a church here," he said.

Stewart said those with family coming from out of town who can’t make the regular Saturday hours for the old church display can call her at 542-3379.

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