Our Lady of Providence Catholic Church


OUR LADY OF PROVIDENCE HISTORY
The First Decade
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IN BRIEF | FIRST DECADE | BUILDING OF THE CHURCH

With the help and support of about 25 of the new parish families and the leadership of Father Duggan, Our Lady of Providence Parish was founded in 1954. Father Duggan celebrated the first Sunday Mass at 9:00 am on Mother’s Day, May 9, 1954, and eleven people attended, including the Saal, Thomas and Goodwin families.

For most of the first year, Masses were held in an old four-room farm house located on the property until the church and rectory buildings were completed. Father Duggan conducted the parish business from the main office of Resurrection Cemetery along with the parish housekeeper, Mrs. Mary Bernzen.

The first organizational meeting of OLP was May 12, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Mizerany, and 82 parishioners attended. At that time 139 families lived in the OLP parish boundaries. On July 18, 1954 a Get Acquainted BBQ was held to raise funds for plumbing and fixtures needed at the old farm house which served as church and rectory. Vince and Rose Pahlmann’s home was used to facilitate the OLP parish ladies/first card party on August 1, 1954. The success of this fundraiser led Marge Huber, Chairperson of the Ladies' Club, to sponsor another larger, more successful card party on October 22 at Epiphany Parish Hall.

 
   
 
On August 28, 1954 a delegation of 30 parishioners traveled with Fr. Duggan to St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana to request the Sisters of Providence to assume the responsibility of educating the OLP parish children. As a result Mother Gertrude Clare assigned four Sisters to OLP. Sister Charles Ellen, the Sister Superior, along with Sister Marie Cecile, Sister Rosalita and Sister Thomas Ann were the first Sisters of Providence to serve in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Because OLP parish had so many children between the ages of four and five, a kindergarten teacher was also acquired.

During these summer months the choir met on Saturday afternoons, prospective servers met at the rectory for Latin lessons, and ladies got together on Monday evenings to work on the first Christmas Bazaar.

In October a parish meeting was held at Annunciation Parish Hall to plan for the fundraising and construction of the parish facilities. Mr. Kloster, one of seven contractors who had bid the project, was awarded the contract to construct a combination church and school building, which included the chapel, cafeteria, convent and eight classrooms on December 17, 1954. The architect was Maurice Carroll. A ground breaking ceremony was held on December 26, 1954.
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The year 1954 marked other firsts at OLP. The first person to be baptized at OLP was John Mitchell, Jr., son of John and Joyce Mitchell. The first marriage at OLP took place on June 4, 1954 joining Otto Hielman and Frances Blaha. On June 15, the Providence Club was formed, lead by Harry S. Ewers, Chairman, and Herman Thompson, Treasurer. The first parish bulletin was published on September 19, stencils prepared by Mrs. Hermine Kelemen. On October 1, the First Friday Club was organized at OLP by Edward Halloran, who served as Secretary.

During 1955 development at OLP continued at a brisk pace. In January the Holy Name Society was formed, lead by Edward Reilly, President, and Arthur Huber, Vice President, August Matarano, Secretary, Novell Geoghegan, Recording Secretary, and Edward Halloran, Treasurer. Also, the Ladies Sodality convened their first meeting with Marge Huber, President, Helen Iggens, Vice President, Hermine Keleman, Secretary, Lois Niehof, Recording Secretary, and Mini Crain, Treasurer. The ladies' Sewing Circle was formed by Mrs. Horstdaniel and Mrs. Wirthlin.
 
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Construction of the church and school began January 17, 1955. Father Duggan wanted special recognition for Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, who permitted all parish meetings to be held at their home, and for Mrs. Horstdaniel, who provided the use of her home to the Quilters on Wednesday evenings.

The Laying of the Cornerstone ceremony followed the blessing by Archbishop Joseph Ritter on April 23, 1955. Later that year the first Mass in the new chapel took place on August 27, 1955. The parish school opened on September 6 with an enrollment of 123 students. Tuition was $20.00 per child for families registered in the parish. Archbishop Ritter returned on October 30 to dedicate the new church.

In December the old farm house was abandoned and the rectory was moved to a house on Pinewood. Father Duggan expressed his gratitude to the members of the Parish Board throughout the organizational process “for their assiduous efforts for successful parochial endeavors.” The Board members at the time were Mr. Ewers, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Kissel, Mr. Pell and Mr. Fisher. The Board’s mission was “To revivify that spirit of devotedness to all spiritual, moral, material and social purposes for Our Lady."

By April, 1956 the parish roster had grown from the original 25 families to 338. The first Parish School of Religion (PSR) program began in September with classes held on Saturday mornings.
 
 

In April of 1957 outside shrines for the Blessed Virgin and St. Francis were constructed. Donations from the Ed Rielly and Wilhelm families made it possible for Joseph Tonkovich to construct the shrines. Marge Huber and Elizabeth Mizerany carpeted the sanctuary. The Block Rosary Program was started by Terri Ott. By this time the temporary convent was being used for classrooms.

In 1958 a pavilion was purchased for $200 from a watermelon stand on Chippewa and was added to the OLP parish grounds. The parishioners involved in this project were Fr. Duggan, Jim Dwyer, Paul Didion, Joe Freidman, Earl Lakebrink, Al Degenhart and Walter Sauer. Clarence Breummer is recognized for repainting the cafeteria.

IN BRIEF | FIRST DECADE | BUILDING OF THE CHURCH


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