Pray the Rosary

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A Centennial History - Chapter 4

Father McCarthy Comes to St. Mary's

     On September 11, 1947 Fr. Wm. B. McCarthy at Sereno, MO. likewise received a letter of appointment from Archbishop, as the new pastor of St. Mary's where he stated: "St. Mary's Parish, as you know, is a small parish but there are possibilities there, and I am confident that you will continue your fine priestly work for the good people at that parish. A school must be built, and Fr. Schutzbach has already on hand some funds towards this project. I would ask you to undertake this at once, as I know that when you see the present school building you will understand how imperative it is that a more suitable building be erected immediately."

     On September 23, Fr. Schutzbach departed St. Mary's parish and left behind him any friends with a lasting memory of what he had done for them. The same day Fr. McCarthy arrived at his new pastors and assumed his newly appointed duties. On Sunday, October 5, 1947 the parish was having its "Thirteen Hours Adoration", and at the closing of the Adoration, Fr. McCarthy was canonically installed as the new pastor of St. Mary's by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Geor. J. Hildner, the Dean of the Washington Deanery and the pastor of St. John's at Gildehaus, Mo.

     One day in the middle of the month of October, Fr. McCarthy called upon the Archbishop for instructions pertaining to the erection of the new school. He was told to try and start building in the spring or early summer of 1948. He was also asked to visit Mother Provincial and try to prevail upon her to allow the Ursuline Sisters to remain. This was done after about two months, but the Rev. Pastor was refused and informed that the sisters would leave permanently in June of 1948. The Archbishop being so informed, requested Fr. McCarthy to seek the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood at O'Fallon, Mo., for his teaching staff. This was done but the pastor was informed that it would be impossible for them to take St. Mary's. The pastor then sought the aid of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word from Normandy, Mo., again he was faced with another refusal. Under such circumstances, the pastor went again to see the Archbishop and presented his difficulties. The Archbishop stated that he would write the Rev. Mother of the Precious Blood Sisters in O'Fallon, Mo. (letter pertaining to this follows later).

     During the first weeks of January 1948, Fr. McCarthy began to think seriously along the lines of erection of new school building and the remodeling of the convent. The drew a sketch of the school which he desired to be attached to the convent building. The new and old building he intended to cover with "Perma-Stone" to match the Church edifice.

     After drawing this sketch he asked Mr. John Gutmann, a contractor, to call upon him to discuss the possible building. Mr. Gutmann came to see the pastor bringing along with him Mr. Arthur B. Stauder an architect. After the conference it was decided that Mr. Stauder take the sketch, drawn by Fr. McCarthy to obtain the proper dimensions of the convent building and the intended new school building, and draw up a sketch and a set of blue prints. Within a few weeks the architect submitted his blue prints and the contractor Mr. Gutmann, submitted his bid $32,400 (excluding electrical work and excavation, etc.)

     On Sunday afternoon February 14, 1948 at 3:30pm a parish meeting was held in the parish hall. Before a large attendance the blue prints were submitted and after scrutinizing the plans and discussing the price of the building these blue prints were likewise submitted to Archbishop Ritter on Feb. 10, 1948. On Feb. 21, 1948 Fr. McCarthy received from the Archbishop the following consent: "I have checked over the plans which you have submitted for addition to your school, and I hereby, authorize you to proceed with the erection of this much needed building."

     On March 18th the contractor's son Jack Gutmann and Eugene Sydner surveyed the plotted ground adjoining the convent. Two day later the men of the parish assembled and dug out the form of the foundation.

     On March 25th, Shepherd Brothers (well drillers) brought their equipment and set in place for the drill of the deep well, which was to supply the water for the school, convent and priest-house. A few days later the drilling was started and completed April 2nd, a depth of two hundred forty-five feet. On May 22nd, after they hooked up tot he well. The well pipe was donated to Fr. McCarthy by his friends Mr. & Mrs. Ed Powers from Clayton, Mo. Mr. Edw. Unnerstall, a man of the parish, donated the pump.

     On March 30th, Clem Straatmann from St. John's Parish started his shovel in the digging out the entire basement for the foundation and finished in a few days. Men of the parish did the finishing work necessary before the concrete could be laid. On April 12th Daly Concrete Company started the concrete foundation and finish April 29th as the carpenters had the structure up to the roof on May 7th.

     The "old school" building which consisted of a two-room frame structure was torn down from May 7th to May 22nd. The electrical wiring was installed in the new school building in time donated by Wm Eckelkamp. The convent was rewire in time donated by Edw. Unnerstall and his young son Paul.

     The new school building and remodeling of the convent was completed the first part of August. The convent was thoroughly cleaned by the men and women of the parish and refurbished by August 23rd. The entire edifice was completed in five and one-half months.

     The complete cost of the building amounted to $40.904.97. The reason for the higher cost was that it did not include the architects fee, the building of concrete retaining wall against the convent wall, the deep-well, the wiring equipment and electrical fixtures of both buildings, the new floors in the convent, the desks for the school and new furniture for the convent, nor the papering of the entire convent.

     On June 22nd Fr. McCarthy received word from the Archbishop: "I have definite word this morning from Superior General of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O'Fallon, that the Sisters will take the school beginning this September." On July 12th the pastor received the following word from Mother M. Borgia: "His Excellency, our Most Rev. Archbishop, has no doubt informed you that we shall be able to staff your school for you in September." The Sisters: Sr. Alphonse, Sr. Serapia and Sr. Hermine arrived at St. Mary's on August 26th. On September 3rd, the Archbishop wrote the Pastor that "He would be delighted to dedicate the new school on Sunday afternoon, September 12, at 3:00pm." September 7th school opened with an enrollment of twenty-three children. The dedication of the new St. Mary's School and Convent took place Sunday September 12, at 3pm with the closing of Solemn Benediction.

     The Archbishop, in delivering his talk to the people, complimented them on the progress made in the parish within the past year, under the leadership of their new pastor. He also brought before their minds the accomplishments of the parish under their previous pastor reminding them that they now have something to be proud of and to remain within the confines of the parish, take care of it and enjoy it.

     After services, the ladies of the parish served dinner in the parish hall to the Archbishop and the visiting priests. At the head of the table before the Archbishop was setting a large cake decorated with a cross and American flag, with the inscription "St. Mary's School dedicated to God and Country". After the dinner the cake was presented as a personal gift to His Excellency, in the name of the parish. Those present at the dinner were: Most Rev. Joseph E. Ritter, Rt. Rev. Geo. J. Hildner, Very Rev. Chas, H. Helmsing, Rev. Jno. J. Fisher, Rev. Francis O'Donnell, Rev. Jno. H. Hyland, Rev. Berisimo Scheffer, Rev. Jno. L. Brennan, Rev. Al. J. Marschner, Rev. Dacian Bienek, O.F.M. and Rev. Wm. B. McCarthy, Pastor.

The officers at Benediction were: Most Rev. Joseph E. Ritter, Celebrant, Rev. John J. Hyland, Deacon, Rev. Al J. Marschner, Sub-Deacon, Very Rev. Chas, H. Helmsing, Master of Ceremonies.

     The Rural Life Conference donated a school bus to the parish, which arrived September 25th and started its first run to pick up the school children on Wednesday september 29th. The chauffeur of the bus was Mr. Henry L. Vondera. He is a most efficient driver, careful, cheerful and one can set their clock by his daily schedule. The bus was a Chevy panel truck with sliding windows. It was red with "St. Mary's" in silver lettering. Mr. Ed Mesplay was the driver after Mr. Vondrea quit.

     In addition to this new and beautiful school, many other improvements have been made both in the buildings and on the grounds around them to help beautify the property. 

     Father McCarthy has received many monetary donations and gifts from his friends among them a beautiful statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is in the church and two statues, of St. Aloysius and St. Anthony, which are in the school chapel. The school chapel was also made both beautiful and comfortable by five sturdy oak pews. These most gnerous gifts were given by Rev. Jno.J. Fisher, Pastor of Our Lady of the Presentation Parish, St. John's Station.

     On February 20, 1949, Mr. & Mrs. Ben Eckelkamp donated a beautiful statue of The Infant of Prague and their daughter, Delores, donated a statue of St. Theresa (The Little Flower) to be used in the school chapel.

     Two of the young men, who gave their lives in the service of their country, were brought back to St. Mary's for buriel:
Victor Kindel - September 11, 1948
Louis W. Hanneken - December 11, 1948

     The people of St. Mary's Parish felt the loss of two men who have been among them for many years and who have donated much time and money towards making this parish the nice parish it is today.
John H. Hanneken - April 2, 1948
Jake Gaasch  -  January 30, 1949

     The Baptismal Font, which was given by Rev. John J. Fisher, Pastor from Presentation Church on April 26, 1949, was repainted and marbleized by Fr McCarthy on April 29 and 30, 1949.

     Mr. Wilmering, of Pacific, Mo. painted the exterior of the church in August 1949. He put two coats on both the roof and building, at a cost of $459.70

     Rev. J.J. Fisher also gave electrical fixtures for the church, when the new Presentation Church was built in August 9, 1949. Mr. Edw Unnerstall installed them. His son, Paul assisted him. The most successful picnic to date was on August 7, 1949. Net proceeds were $3,901.70.

     In May 1949 St. Mary's held its first May procession in honor of Mary Our Mother.  It was a beautiful and very impressive ceremony and will be an annual event here in the parish, named for Our Blessed mother.

     On the Northern side of the parking lot, along side of the church, rock ledges were hidden.  These rock ledges were exposed by the world of Fr. McCarthy and his housekeeper, Erline Cottrell (picture at left) forming a natural setting for a shrine.  The background being red bud trees, oak, and maples.  Mr. Jos. P. McGowern and his father started work on the shrine on Saturday July 14, 1951.

      The father, not being able to withstand the heat, was compelled to withdraw from the work.  Mr. Hugo Reindl was asked to help with the erection on Saturday July 21 & 28, 1951.  The Statue of Our Lady of Grace was made by Kaletta Statuary Co. St. Louis and placed in the Shrine Saturday, September 1, 1951, a statue (smaller size) was placed in the Shrine.  This three-foot statue was borrowed from Kaletta.  Mr. Jas. P. McGowan donated the statue and all material for the Shrine.  The statue cost was $177.00.

      The Blessing of the Shrine took place Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.  The faithful formed a procession to the Shrine and recited the rosary and litany for the intentions of the benefactors of the Shrine.  The housekeeper donated ornamental flower holders in thanksgiving for favors received through the Blessed Mother.

     On February 19, 1952, permission was granted by Archbishop Ritter to decorate the interior of St. Mary's Church.  Arrangements were made with C.E. Wilmering Painting Co., Pacific, Mo. to do the work.  The painters started work on February 26.  The Pastor, Rev. Wm. B McCarthy, selected the colors.  Light yellow on the ceiling and cream on the sidewall. The trim is light brown and the pillars will be marbleized and the ornamental plaster antique white.  The ceiling in the Sanctuary is to be painted a light blue with the same trimming.  The Sacristies have been replastered and will be painted the same as the interior of the church.  The cost of this job was $1298.00.  This amount was raised by a Parish drive.  The work was almost complete when Father McCarthy received his letter of appointment to be pastor of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Maplewood, Mo. March 19, 1952.

     Fr. McCarthy has left us a monument to his term of office as pastor in the unique shrine of Our Lady in the parking lot, also, the attractive school building.  However, Archbishop Ritter assigned him to Immaculate Conception Church in Maplewood of St. Louis County in March 1952.  The assistant pastor of St. Andrew's Church in Lemay, Mo., Father Edmund Stolz (brother of Marie (Ed) Unnerstall) arrived here on March 29, 1952 as pastor.  Unfortunately, this man, light-heartedness in his younger days, became ill in September 1952.  It was a cross he would haev to bear all the rest of his days.  During the time of his entry in the hospital, the Benedictine Fathers of Pius X (now at pevely, Mo.) were then living in Labadie, Mo. and helped to staff the parish.

     Since Fr. Stolz's health did not improve in time, the Archbishop sent temporarily as an administrator, Father Anthony Talir.  This former assistant of St. Peter's Kirkwood took charge here Nov. 7, 1952.  One of the first things that he did was to start devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, our parish' official title, and enrolled us in the Confraternity, which is entrusted to the Redemptorist Fathers, on March 24, 1953.  On January 6, 1954 he organized the Altar Society, which proved to be the mainstay of the parish.

     Although Father Talir remained here only as an administrator all of his six years, he was here when the parish needed him and he, too, has left us memorials of his time.  The time had come when the parish had to celebrate its Golden Anniversary.

     A High Mass of Thanksgiving occurred on September 18, 1955: Rt. Rev Ernest Blankemeier as celebrant, Rev. Jerome Schultzback as deacon; former pasters, and Fr. A. Talir, as subdeacon.  The sermon was preached by Rev. Alph. Westhoff, of St. Peter's Church Kirkwood.  Also present was Msgr. Geo. Hildner, the Dean of our area, the former pastors: Fr. E.J. Meier, and Wm. McCarthy, plus Fr. Noelker, Fr. John Hyland and Fr. Oswald, O.F.M.

    Thus ended a period of time for the parish, which was one of the realistic idealism demanding sacrifices.  A price tag of that time was very low, for the buildings, but the human stones of the parish church were precious.  An example of the worth of the buildings set by the insurance commission in 1945 was:

  Church - insurable value of building
                               $30,000.00
  Rectory - insurable value
                               $7,490.00
  Convent - insurable value
                               $4,635.00

    After this gold period of time, no other pastor recorded a history of work done. Father Jos. C. O'Brien assumed his duties here May 1960, Father Al. J. Acton June 1963, Father J. P. Lessard June 1969.

 

End of Chapter lV

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