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Dear People of St. Joseph's:
I am happy to be here in your midst, as we share in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of our parish.
Any church is people. For the last 100 years many people have given of their time, their efforts, their resources, to bring our parish to where it is today. Today we are thankful to God for all of these people.
But there is a challenge for all of us today, that is to take our parish from where it is today, to greater things, to greater love,t o greater service, to greater holiness.
We are a pilgrim people. We are on a journey. And as we look behind us today, to where we have been , we also must look ahead to ways, that as a community who share faith, who worship together, who live together as a family of God, in Cobden, may grow together into a people who will be more loving of God and our fellow men and women.
I want to thank you for a great year. And I want to thank everyone who has worked to make our centennial a joyful occasion.
Fr. Ted Baumann
On October 24, 1954, St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Cobden, Illinois celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a Pontifical High Mass by Pastor Victor Sulkowski. At that time, the history of Catholicism in Cobden was traced as far back as 1853 and shared with the parishioners. The following is that accounting.
Part II of St. Joseph's History starts where our predecessors left off, 1954.
This place, originally known as South Pass, was named Cobden by a stockholder of the I.C.R.R., Richard Cobden. The first Catholic settlers here were the families of
Benjamin Basler and
They had imigrated from Germany in 1853. Traditionally they were farmers, and so settling in and about Cobden they tried to eke out a livelihood by what is know today as truck farming, specializing in sweet potatoes and strawberries.
As early as 1861 Mass was said in the home of Mathias Clemens. At this time Cobden was attended from Anna, Cairo and Mound City. The registers show the names of the following attending priests:
Rev. Theodore Elshoff of Anna, 1861;
Rev. L.A. Lambert of Cairo, 1862-63;
Rev. William Kuchenbuch of Mound City, 1863-65;
Rev. R.A. Walsh of Mound City, 1863;
Rev. F. Foekele of Anna, 1868-71;
Rev. H.A. Hellhake of Anna, 1872-73:
Rev. R. Grant of Mound City, 1874;
Rev. G. Hoppe, of Cairo, 1875;
Rev. J. Masterson, of Cairo, 1875-76;
Rev. L. Lambert, of Cairo, 1877;
Rev. John Herlitz, Anna, 1877-81.
However, the parish as a unit was not formed until 1879 with the first baptism being that of Magdaline Blum, daughter of Aloys Blum and Magdaline Vitt, March 30, 1879; the first funeral, Gertrude Clemens, February 23, 1880 and first Wedding, Edgar Buck and Lorraine Belle, March 6, 1881.
Beginning with 1881 the Benedictine Fathers of the Monastery of Weataug took charge of Cobden and Anna, and so we find in the registers the names of the following Benedictines;
Rev. Engelbert Leist,
Rev. Sylvester Joerg,
Rev. Paulus Behrens,
Rev. Severius Laufenberg,
Rev. Placidus Pilz,
Rev. Rhabanus Gutman,
Rev. Oswald Mossmueller,
Rev. Alto Herr.
In 1893 fire destroyed the church and rectory at Anna, and so Rev. Alto Herr, O.S.B. transferred his residence to Cobden, where he had bought the corner lot adjoining the church lot.
By 1894, the Diocese of Belleville having been established, Cobden Parish received a resident diocesan pastor on October 12, in the person of the Rev. Christopher Goelz. The one-story frame rectory not being very suitable was soon moved and was replaced by a two-story one, the cost of which was $1,562.00.
During the next 10 years the parish became better organized and several more Catholic families took residence in the small community of Cobden. Benefits, suppers and picnics made it possible for the small parish to visualize a new school. During the pastorate of Father Goelz, 1905, a two story combination frame school and Sisters' dwelling was built. The building rests above a stone foundation and basement, and contains two large classrooms on the first floor and five living rooms on the second. The cost of this structure including the purchase of the DuBois property, the steam heating plant and the furnishings of the school was $5,000.00. Until 1912 the White Benedictine Sisters of Jonesboro, Arkansas were in charge, and since then the school has been under the supervision of the Notre Dame Sisters. Miss Rose Stadelbacher, now Sister M. Stella, OFM of Springfield, Illinois, donated $1,000.00 for the erection of this school.
The private cemetery of Mathias Clemens was donated by Mrs. A. Petsch to the parish of 1893, and an adjoining parcel of land was deeded to the parish for cemetery purposes the same year by Joseph Bigler. This cemetery ground was then platted, fenced and improved by Father C. Goelz.
January 8, 1908, Father Goelz was succeeded by Father Joseph H. Fischer. Entering upon the administration of his parish, Father Fischer and the Trustees made an effort to arrange for the erection of a new church, but a superficial canvass to that effect revealed a very discouraging financial condition of the majority of its members, and so the hopes for a new church did not materialize.
Five years later the condition and appearance of the old building called for immediate repairs. Resolutions were passed, money had been collected toward painting, papering and repairing the old structure which then had served its purpose for more than 33 years.
Even with the repairing of the old, there was hope that in the near future a beautiful edifice would be built in honor of St. Joseph. Encouraged by the generous contributions of Andrew Stadelbacher and wife, and Mrs. Anna Petsch, the question of building a new church was brought forcibly to the attention of all parishioners. The scope of a drive was outlined and all members were exhorted to faithful cooperation, so that a monument would be erected to the glory of God.
As a result of the preliminary work, other donations came forward amounting to $3,300.00. In the words of Father Fishcer: "The mustard seed is sprouting and is bound to grow if all the members show a practical interest in arranging for the erection of a suitable church building."
Before all preliminary plans were completed, Father Fischer was transferred, succeeded by Father Bernard Eppmann, July 28, 1920. During Father Eppmann's pastorate more plans materialized for the raising of funds for the new church.
On December 1, 1922, Father Eppmann was succeeded by Father Charles Brumleve, August 16, 1925, the pastor announced the long awaited news: "on the morrow the old frame church will be destroyed, and a new brick edifice will be built". So enthused over the grand project, all the men of the parish gave a helping hand, not only in tearing down the old, but in excavating, pouring of the cement for the foundation, hauling of bricks and iron beams from the railroad. New furnishings included stained windows, pews, vestment cases, confessional, and new altars. The pastor's uncle, an art craftsman, designed and built the simple but beautiful altars. Stations of the cross came from the Sacred Heart parish of DuQuoin and the organ came from St. Joseph's parish, Lebanon. Dedication of the new church took place on May 31, 1926 with Bishop Althoff officiating and being assisted by the neighboring priests. Cost of the church was $31,000.00. On the day after the dedication, Father Brumleve assisted at the marriage ceremony of his brother, Leo, and Miss Margaret Basler. During Father's appointment at Cobden, he also took care of St. Mary's parish at Anna, as well as Weataug, and the Anna State Hospital.
July 17, 1941 Father Brumleve was transferred to Enfield, to be followed by Father Thomas P. Driscoll. Father's pastorate was very brief at Joseph's because of the call to the Armed Services as Chaplain in the Marine Corps.
November 16, 1942 Father Frankovich was assigned as pastor of St. Joseph's. Little did he realize that misfortune would strike the parish on Wednesday, January 23, 1946. On that day the rectory was totally destroyed by fire, nothing being salvaged except a few parish books. The loyal parishioners again willingly helped to remove the debris and soon money was raised to build a beautiful seven-room modern brick rectory. By the latter part of September 1948, Father Frankovich moved into the new rectory, the cost of which was around $14,000.
June 26, 1952 Father Victor Sulkoviski became the next pastor to direct St. Joseph's parish. It was his great pleasure to complete the jubilee plans which had been inaugurated by his predecessor. The plans included the renovation of all parish buildings.
To begin, the rectory was redecorated and all new furnishings were supplied. Sisters' quarters were likewise redecorated and some of the old furnishings were replaced. The school building, which had weathered many years, was repainted interiorally and exteriorally. New subfloors and floors consisting of masonite and tile were laid in the classrooms and hall. New lighting fixtures replaced the old and the two-story building was completely rewired according to safety specifications.
As for the church, it was frescoed in the traditional color of peach, beautifully cast into five shades. New asphalt tile flooring was laid in the church, sacristies and baptistry. Heavy carpeting in green set off the beautiful hardwood floors of the sanctuary, only to be completed with wrought iron furnishings through the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. John Cerny and children. Stations of the cross, obtained from St. Joseph's parish, Benton, Illinois, were repainted, so also were the statues. New vestments were included in the jubilee plans, and to enhance the beauty and to complete the church, a new organ was the legacy of the late Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Flamm, Sr. Plans for the organ were completed by their children. Other improvements included an oil furnace, solid birch doors, soft-padded kneelers, and the remaining stained glass windows were completed. All of these improvements were made through the sacrificial efforts of all parishioners, thus exemplifying their filial devotion to the parish and love for Almighty God.
Many changes have occurred since the Diamond Jubilee History was compiled by Rev. Father Sulkowski. Our parish has grown in numbers and character. As Cobden has changed, so has St. Joseph's. What follows is a backwards glance at those years from 1954 until yesterday.
Twenty years ago, Father Victor made record of a "religious census" of Cobden taken by the men of St. Joseph's Parish. This effort required a door-to-door campaign. Later in that same time period, St. Joseph's Parish invited area non-catholics to an open house held one Sunday afternoon. Parish volunteers were stationed throughout the Church to explain the "Why" and "Use" of the different articles used in our services and devotions. This appears to be the beginning of St. Joseph's ecumenical attitude.
During these same years, the parishioners directed their attention to the Cemetery. A Crucifix of Union County Lutz Marble was erected; the surrounding area landscaped; and the automatic flood lights were directed on the Crucifix. The Cemetery grew in size with a gift of an adjacent parcel of land from Arthur Bigler.
In August of 1961, Rev. Father Voctor Sulkowski was transferred to Carlyle and the Rev. Father Joseph Orford was assigned to St. Joseph's.
1962 marks the closing of St. Joseph's School. Small enrollment forced the Bishop to make this decision. For several years, the convent remained in use by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Catechetical Center and religion and CCD classes. The "Center" was staffed by the Adorers of the Most Precious Blood.
Father Orford and the Nuns shared their time and love with the Catholic boys of the Youth Camp at Giant City Park. The boys attended Mass at St. Joseph's, were entertained with lunches by the Ladies Sodality, and reciprocated by entertaining the Ladies as their guests at the camp.
Of significance during these years were the liturgical changes following Vatican II. The Church itself changed in keeping with liturgical directives. We also recall using our first lay religious teachers at this time. The Adult Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes began meeting in small groups in the homes of parishioners. The Diocesan Service Appeal (DSA) came into being and our first pledges were made. The Parish Council was created and Father Orford became the Catholic Chaplain for Anna State Hospital.
In 1967, Father Lawrence Drone replaced Father Orford as Pastor of St. Joseph's. Unfortunately, Father Drone became ill and Father Robert Keating became Administrator for one year. Liturgical changes continued and the Parish Council was reorganized.
In 1971, Father Stephen Humphrey was assigned as our Pastor and Catholic Chaplain at the Anna State Hospital.
In 1972, the Parish met and made plans to demolish the school building and build a Parish Hall. A Building Committee was appointed, the school demolished and work on the new building began by July 1973. By 1974, the Parish Hall was completed with a large part of the labor donated again by the men of the Parish. The blessing and the first pot-luck dinner was held in June 1974.
With the "new" Hall, St. Joseph's experienced several additional "firsts". The first men's smoker, the first family picnic, the first adult weiner roast and the first appreciation dinner for council members and CCD teachers. The first CCD Vacation School was conducted by the Notre Dame Sisters in June, 1975.
Of special note, Arthur Basler, son of Rudolph and Geneva Schumacher Basler, was ordained in Lemont, Illinois, on June 7, 1975. Father Art is the first and only native son of St. Joseph's to be ordained to the priesthood. His first Mass at St. Joseph's was held Sunday, June 15, 1975. A pot-luck dinner was served in the new Hall for the entire Parish, relatives and friends.
Another "first", of significance, is St. Joseph's first Communal Penance Service conducted by Father Steve and assisted by Father Jim Dougherty, then of St. Joseph's Hospital of Murphysboro, Illinois. We also began a series of Adult Education Classes at this time.
The Parish Centennial became a reality so plans were begun to make ready for the celebration.
The Church needed attention so a Redecorating Committee was formed. A new heating and cooling system was installed, a new roof added, exterior and interior painting and repair done, new carpeting, walls moved, windows scrubbed and a new arch placed around the altar and crucifix. The organ was moved to allow space for a reconciliation room. The floors and pews were refinished, the Stations of the Cross and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph lowered to eye level.
In the midst of the plaster dust and clamor of our redecoration, Father Humphrey accepted the Bishop's request that he minister to the needs of the people in East St. Louis, Father Steve left us in June, 1977.
Assuming the Pastorate in the midst of our Centennial fervor is our current Pastor, Father Ted Baumann, who completed the renovation projects. During church renovation, Masses were celebrated in the new Parish Hall. Father Ted is also part-time Chaplain at the Anna Mental Health Center.
Despite our pre-occupation with the Centennial activities, Father Baumann saw a need; a Mass in Spanish. Every two weeks during harvest, special Masses are said in Spanish on Saturday afternoons for the migrant farm laborers.
The Parish Council formed a Centennial Committee and appointed Helen Flamm as Chairperson and Lawrence DuBois as Secretary, Sub-Committees were appointed and work began. Our Centennial Year started with a 5:00 O'clock Mass, Saturday, March 18, 1978, in honor of St. Joseph, followed by a pot-luck supper.
Another first is in order at this time. Father Baumann announced in April that Garth Gillan has begun training for permanent Deacon.
On Sunday morning, April 9, the Parishioners were treated to a Men's Bake Sale after Mass. Coffee and "baked goodies" were served and everyone shared in fun and friendship.
On Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7, Parishioners scrubbed up, put on their best smiles and had their pictures taken for the Parish Directory. Practically all members participated.
On Wednesday, May 10, Nostalgia Night was held in the Parish Hall, "A Night to Remember". It brought back memories with the sharing of thoughts, conversation and pictures. A special program of memories was presented and tribute was paid to "all those who have gone before us". "It is only through their devotion and labor that we are all able to be here tonight, celebrating this Centennial Year. It is our prayer that our children, in the next 100 years, may continue to strive to make this Parish truly a family to be proud of".
Later that same month, a Memorial Mass was conducted at our Cemetery. Father Baumann celebrated this Memorial Mass at the foot of the Crucifix which maintains a constant vigil over our deceased loved ones.
June 17th found St. Joseph's family having a big Homecoming Celebration. Ice Cream, pies, sandwiches, coffee, soda, games of chance and the favorite, bingo, characterized the sunny day. Parishioners and clergy, past and present, spent the day sharing memories and good feelings.
Sunday following, was Nun's Day. Sisters who had shared time with us participated in a Mass by providing music and readings. A reception was held in the Parish Hall following the Mass for the Parish Family and the thirteen Nuns in attendance. A special luncheon concluded the festivities.
In the middle of July, St. Joseph's held its Annual Family Picnic at the Trail of Tears Park in Jonesboro. Father Baumann celebrated an out-of-doors Mass with Parishioners providing liturgical music as well as sing-along accompaniment. Dinner was served, pennies were tossed and the eager took to the ball diamond. As usual, a great time was had by everyone.
On August 20th, Mass was followed by a morning of friendship in the Parish Hall. Coffee and donuts were served while parishioners mingled and shared good tidings.
Sunday, September 24th was an occasion for a very special service, an Ecumenical Service with a public Open House following. Three community clergy participated; Rev. Baumann welcomed the guests and read the Scriptures, Rev. Ryman of the First Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation and Prayers and Rev. Heil of the First Baptist Church, delivered the Sermon. Music and songs were presented by the Union County Community Chorus and Congregational singing "rang through the Church rafters". A reception was held following in the Parish Hall.
Halloween came in October and so did a grand family Halloween Party. The majority came in costume, paraded for the judges, unmasked and laughed and carried on in great style. Goodies were served, prizes given and we all had fun.
In November, St. Joseph's Turkey Bingo was its usual success. The Hall was filled as were many freezers after the event. Proceeds from the bingo games, together with those from a successful rummage sale went back into our "kitty" to replenish the Centennial Fund.
January 29 found Parishioners, young and old, chancing life and limb at our Family Roller Skating Party at Brown's Skateway in Anna. Everyone Survived.
Throughout this eventful year, St. Joseph's youth have been contributing their special talents. These included a special youth Mass in April, a picnic supper and games for the Village Shelter Care residents and a Sunday morning bake sale at Flamm's Cafe. In June and July, our young people spent a day attending a Cardinal Ball game in St. Louis and shopping at St. Clair Square. Several weeks later, all spent a day at Six Flags and a day at Meramec Caverns.
Everyone, young and old, has been enjoying this significant year in the history of our Parish. In the year long sharing of memories, one especially stands out, the School.
The Parishioners of St. Joseph's, under the guidance of Rev. Christoper Goelz, built the school in 1905. At the opening of the school, Sisters of the White Benedictine Order, of Jonesboro, Arkansas took charge. Sister Adelheid, OSB and Sister Alphonsa, OSB were the first teachers.
The first graduation class was in 1907. Those graduating were Cecelia Schumacher Rendleman, Regina Bigler Schrodt, Louise Bigler Earhardt and Elizabeth Bigler Cerny.
Owing to the need of teachers in his own Diocese, the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas recalled the Sisters in 1912. Through the efforts of Father Goelz, The School Sisters of Notre Dame, from Sancta Maria in Ripa, St. Louis, Missouri were procured. Sister Benvenuta, as Superior, Aurelia and Leodega were the first Notre Dames.
Even on those early days, the Sisters were looked upon as "Specialists of Children" because of their advanced training, which they received in their Motherhouses as well as Universities.
Because of a decreasing attendance, the school was closed in 1962. The Notre Dame Sisters had then been with us for 50 years.
Notre Dame Nuns who served in our Parish were Gelasia, Asperia, Laurene, Cartona, Theotista, Anthusia, Baldwin, Martha, Annunciata, Prudentia, Theophana, Virginia, Petra, Laurentia, Euphemia, Emmaline, Matilda, Mary Anthony, Donata, Evina, Octavia, Christilla, Assumpta, Jadwiga, Christopher, Sophia, Priscilla, Ona, Xavier.
During Nostalgia Night, special tribute was paid to "those who have gone before us".
Their efforts gave us the foundation on which we were able to build the Parish we celebrate this year. For this we will always give thanks. Special thanks and prayers are in order for those who, in the course of our 100 years, have gone from our Parish to serve the Church in various religious orders. Seven women and one man have brought great honor to our Parish. St. Joseph's Family Nuns are:
Sister Stella OFM (Rose) Stadelbacher, deceased;
Sister Philomene Ad. PPS (Catherine) Ihle, Ruma, Illinois;
Sister Magdalina SSND (Mary) Flamm, Vella Gusa, St. Louis, Missouri;
Sister Stephanie SSND (Teresa) Flamm, Duchesne High School, St. Charles, Missouri;
Sister Rose Marie SSND (Rosemary) Flamm, St. Gabriel's School, St. Louis, Missouri;
Sister Nancy SSND (Nancy) Flamm, St. Helen's School, Fresno, California;
Sister Emmaline SSND (Lena) Stadelbacher, deceased.
Rev. Arthur Basler CM, St. John Diocesan Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, is St. Joseph's only "native son" in the priesthood.
Parishioners too numerous to mention have given of themselves over the many years and specifically the current Centennial Year. To mention some names would risk overlooking others. Everyone has given and received much as a family in Christ. For this day and these 100 years, we thank and praise God.
As we go to press, there are several events that have yet to be realized. These include a youth Mass, a Parish Renewal, A Closing Mass concelebrated by Bishop Cosgrove, Father Art Basler and present and former Pastors, and another pot-luck supper following the official closing of our Centennial Year, March 25, 1979.
Be assured that a grand time will be had by all.
Perhaps our children's children will be sharing memories of the 1978-79 Centennial Year celebrations on their Nostalgia Night. We will make sure that we have plenty of pictures to smile about as the memorabilia we have accumulated will be sealed in a time capsule to be embedded in a foundation supporting our school bell. Yes, the old school bell will be on the scene again - like old times maybe!
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