Nov. 6 was a beautiful day for celebration at St. Joseph in Stringtown as more than a few parishioners donned period clothing to remember ancestors who came together to nourish their faith and form a parish 175 years ago.
When the parish was founded, the Civil War had yet to be fought and won. The cost of staples was exceedingly low, and the early parishioners traveled to church on foot, on horseback and in wagons.
Some of today’s family names echo through the years, uniting those first settlers with today’s parishioners, like Hahn, Ginder and Ochs.
While the first priests were traveling missionaries, some from Vincennes, Ind., the people continued to gather as a community for prayer. The first log church was completed in 1842 with a seating capacity of 150 at a cost of $300.
With an eye on the education of youth, the parish built a Catholic school in 1879 and another in 1900. In 1908 Adorers of the Blood of Christ from Ruma began teaching at the parish school. In 1932, the parochial school changed to a school supported by public funds.
When the public school withdrew from Stringtown in 1976, St. Joseph chose to continue operating a parochial school there until 1987. In 2010, the school was torn down to make room for a new parish center, also completed in 2010.
In 1977, St. Joseph began sharing a priest with St. Joseph in Olney and in 1997, St. Joseph in Stringtown was partnered with Holy Cross in Wendelin. Now, the three neighboring parishes are partnered under the leadership of Father Mark Stec, pastor, and Father Charles Anyaoku, parochial vicar.
In his letter to parishioners, Bishop Edward K. Braxton said: “(If) Christ can be called the sacrament of the encounter with God, then your parish can be called to be the sacrament of the encounter with Christ. … It is the history of all of the People of God in Stringtown getting up each day with a renewed commitment to love God with all of their hearts and to love their neighbors as they love themselves.”