St. Boniface Catholic Church History
Vincent, Kansas

Preface

~ written by James Rajewski

This history is intended to be both a memorial and at the least a brief account of the development, growth and activities that have taken place during the first sixty years of existence of St. Boniface Church and Parish of Vincent, Kansas.

The account has been drawn largely from the parish records, special recordings made by various pastors, trustees’ minute books, newspaper clippings, personal interviews with surviving founders of the parish, and from my own personal memory of past events and experiences that have taken place the past sixty years. There is much to be written as the years past have been notable ones and blessed in many respects. The past has witnessed many changes in and about the original structure. The many changes and improvements that have been made can well be attributed to the loyalty and unity of the parishioners. There have been both prosperous and lean years, many hardships encountered, untold sacrifices were made for the church, both by its pastors and congregation.

The first part of this history will tell of the geographical location, the photography of the area involved, church affiliation, initial steps to establish the parish and difficulties involved, and the construction and development of the parish complex.

The second part will relate the many improvements and remodeling that have occurred over the years, the various parish functions and anniversaries celebrated.

The final section will give a statistical report of all births, marriages and deaths recorded in the parish records.

I undertook this project of writing a history of the parish on my own initiative.

Realizing the importance of an historical account of the past events of our Parish, it prompted me to proceed with this task. Many hours were spent in research compiling data necessary to write this historical account of our parish. The only objective in mind was to have this for the sake of posterity. May this generation and future generations enjoy this precious heritage.

 

Introduction

 

The author of this Parish history aims to tell a factual story of this community, parish, its people, the construction, progress and development of the parish, as though it had happened yesterday.

Nearly a century ago this vicinity and area were just a large vast open plains country. There were no homes or any people living in this area. The valleys and hills were covered with buffalo grass, no trees except those found on the banks of Big Creek, a stream that wound its course for many centuries through this community dividing the vast span of open prairies into two segments, north and south Big Creek country. The beauty of this stream and valley soon was to play an important part in the development of this community. There were still some Indian tribes who occasionally roamed this area in search for buffalo, deer, antelope and wild fowl. Jack rabbits were plentiful and the coyote roamed the plains unmolested. However, it had lived its course and soon was to undergo a drastic change.

In the fall of 1872 George Grant, an English nobleman who had much wealth came to Kansas to scout and survey the great open prairies which were often referred to in England as a great hunting ground with untold numbers of buffalo and wild life. He was so impressed with the sights that he decided to make his home here. He purchased from the Kansas Pacific Railroad, now the Union Pacific, an acreage estimated at seventy thousand acres at a price of fifty cents per acre. He purchased this with the intention of selling it in large tracts to the people he intended to bring to Kansas from England and Scotland. He selected the sight for his home on the South Banks of Big Creek, the North East Quarter of Section 8, Township 15, Range 16, the present home of Mr. and Mrs. William Baier. He likewise selected the site for the future city of Victoria, and named it as such in honor of Queen Victoria, who was the reigning Queen of England at that time. He returned to his home in the fall of 1872.

Early in the spring of 1873 he returned to Victoria with a group of noblemen who settled along the banks of Big Creek now the Vincent community. They brought with them a number of well-bred horses which they intended to use for hunting. Grant brought with him horses and several head of Angus cattle. These Angus cattle were the first to put foot on American soil and he placed them on his ranch. His home the “Villa” of native rock which still stands today in excellent condition. Many hours of social life were spent at the Villa. This nobleman invested heavily in livestock which were shipped in from the east. They relied on the native grass for feed and provided no shelter for the livestock. Three disastrous years in a row, drought, a prairie fire and a grasshopper plague plus severe winters caused the livestock to die. The adventure of these men soon proved to be a failure. Their fortunes were lost, some returned to their native land, others moved to other parts of the country.

The coming of the German-Russian people in 1876 to this community, followed closely by the German people, soon caused a marked change in this community. From the original settlement of Victoria, these people ventured south and took over the homes and land vacated by the English colony. These people were home builders and tillers of the soil. The sod was broken and crops planted. They were all an industrious and religious people professing the Catholic Faith.

In the closing years of the Nineteenth Century this community was quite well settled, homes were established and great progress made. Among the early settlers in this community were the German-Russians, the Germans and the Plattdeutschen, Low Germans, and the Rajewski family of Polish and Austrian blood. Among the first families to settle in this area were the Baier, Huser and Rajewski families, followed closely by a number of German-Russian families. They were all young people determined to make a success of their adventure regardless of hardships which constantly confronted them. Placing their trust and faith in God, they prayed that their efforts would be blessed and that a brighter future would lie ahead of them.

Regardless of nationality and customs, they all worked together and their combined efforts during those trying years definitely played an important part in the establishment of our community and parish.

1907 - Founders of St. Boniface Church and Parish

Moritz Baier

Mrs. Moritz Baier

Anton P. Dreiling

Mrs. Anton P. Dreiling

Bernard P. Huser

Mrs. Bernard P. Huser

Valentine {Walter} Rajewski

Mrs. Valentine Rajewski

Lorenz Braun

Mrs. Lorenz Braun

Mike Reichert

Mrs. Mike Reichert

Peter Weigel

Mrs. Peter Weigel

Ulrich Berens

Mrs. Ulrich Berens

Pastors who have served St. Boniface Parish

PAST0R                           Date of Appoint.

Fr. Vincent Brandt.........Dec. 1907 - Jan. 1909

Fr. Basil Heim.................Jan. 1909 - Oct. 1909

Fr. Edmund Trischler.....Nov. 1909 - Jul. 1911

Fr. Pancratius Dockler...July 1911 - Jul. 1912

Fr. Celestine Oswald......July 1912 - Jul. 1916

Fr. Ulric Zeller.................July 1916 - Jul. 1917

Fr. Chrysostom Jacob....Nov. 1917 - Jul. 1919

Fr. Michael Neff.............Sept. 1919 - Feb.1920

Fr. Emmeram Kausler...Feb. 1920 - Dec. 1921

Fr. Michael Neff.............Dec. 1921 - Jul. 1925

Fr. Edward Heyl..............July 1925 - Feb. 1927

Fr. Raphael Engel...........Feb. 1927 - Jul. 1927

Fr. Callistus Rectenwald...July 1927 - Jul. 1928

Fr. Fidelis Meier..............July 1928 - Nov. 1928

Fr. Raymond Ryan..........Nov. 1928 - Feb.1929

Fr. Callistus Rectenwald...Feb. 1929 - 

1905

The year of 1905 will ever stand out and be remembered in the annals of history of St. Boniface Church, Vincent. It was the year in which the movement began to organize our Parish.

A number of German speaking families had well established themselves in this community. They were a young and an energetic people, and in the process of rearing a family. They were all of the Catholic faith and members of St. Fidelis Church, Victoria. Many lived as far as eleven miles from church. Roads were but mere trails and bridges across streams were few. Regular attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation was almost impossible. Reception of sacraments and religions training for the children created another problem for these people due to the distance from church. They felt that the time had arrived where it was evident that they should proceed to make application for a new parish in this community.

 

Meeting Held

 

A one-room school house that provided elementary education for their children was the only available place for a meeting. It stood one-half mile east from the intersection south of the present church. Better described as in the South East corner of the SW ¼ of Section 4-15-16, Ellis County.

In February of 1905 a meeting was called by Franz Schmidtberger to discuss the possibilities of organizing a Parish. There was unanimous agreement and great enthusiasm shown by those present. Attending the meeting were: Moritz Baier, Bernard Huser, George VonFeldt Sr., Mike and Andrew Wittman and John Neirenberger.

Moritz Baier and Bernard Huser were selected as delegates to meet with the Bishop of the Diocese, Right Rev. Bishop Cunningham, who resided at Concordia Kansas, and to present an application for a new Parish to serve the spiritual needs of those people living in this German community. A collection was taken to help defray the expense of the trip to be made by the delegates. The trip was made in April of 1905.

 

Delegates Met With Bishop

 

The delegates were well accepted by his Lordship, the Bishop. The delegates presented to him the purpose of their mission. The Bishop, after making extensive inquiries as to the exact location of the proposed new parish, proximity to Victoria, Walker, Pfeifer and Munjor, the number of prospective families, available funds and method of finance, construction costs, etc., sanctioned the project provided the Capuchin Fathers of Victoria were willing and in a position to furnish a pastor to serve the proposed parish. There was great rejoicing in the community when this was made known to them, and a feeling prevailed that the dreams of yesterday may soon become the realities of tomorrow. Organizational meetings were held and the early stages of planning for the selection of a site and type of structure began shortly thereafter.

1905-1906 - Difficulty Arises

St. Fidelis Parish of Victoria, the Mother Parish in this community was in the process of completing plans for the construction of a new church, the present church known as the “Cathedral of the Plains.” Fr. Chilian Lutz, O.M. Cap, then pastor of the parish, objected to the formation of a new parish at Vincent at that particular time. He maintained that with the recent establishment of a parish at Walker and the loss of a large number of well-contributing families, the Victoria parish could not stand any further loss of members, to insure the construction of the new church. He had already levied a certain amount of money, labor and rock on each family for the new church. He further insisted that this levy must be contributed before those parishioners who were interested in starting a new parish south and east of Victoria, could proceed with their plans. On August of 1906 Father Jerome Mueller, O.M. Cap., became guardian and pastor at Victoria. He did not object to the formation of the proposed parish but also insisted that the levy be paid and proceeded to collect it, and further insisted that it was an obligation to be paid. That caused quite some concern to the families involved in the proposed new parish.

In April of 1906 a number of men from the proposed new parish met in Hays with the Provincial and other Capuchin Fathers to discuss the levy imposed upon them by the

Victoria Parish. The matter also was referred to the Bishop. It was declared that all families living five miles and more south of Victoria be free from all assessments made by the Victoria Parish and be free to form a new parish. Fr. Emmeram Kausler, who was pastor at Munjor at that time and had considerable experience in the building and designing of churches in this area also attended this meeting, and he agreed with this decision and praised it as a great forward movement to form and develop a new parish to serve the spiritual needs to these people.

With the cancellation of this levy on the prospective families of the proposed new parish, they were free to proceed to construct a new parish church if they so desired. However, when the time came for the prospective families to become a part of the new parish there was some dissension. Some felt that they owed their loyalty to St. Fidelis Church, Die Mutter Kirche, and retained their membership there. They contributed their funds for the construction of the new church and for many years retained their membership there before joining up with St. Boniface Church. Many of the prospective families for the Vincent parish also contributed money and rock for the Victoria Church, that it could never be said that they were disloyal to their Mother church. This double burden imposed great sacrifices on those who founded our parish. Through all these difficulties their spirits were undaunted, and a greater determination now existed to proceed as soon as feasible to construct a church in their midst. The year of 1907 was chosen as the period in which they prayed their dreams would materialize.

1907 - The Beginning

At the turn of the century there were twenty two families living in the area who were interested in establishing a new parish. The greater number favored the establishment of a parish in their midst. In the early months of 1907, meetings were held to formulate plans for the construction and financing of the new church. To raise sufficient funds was the major problem. A wheat plan proposed where a given percent of the crop would be donated. Regardless of all the contributions that could be made by the prospective families it was evident that outside help would be needed. They felt confident that such help would not be denied. It was agreed that all labor, except for a carpenter, was to be donated. They all realized that this meant a great sacrifice of time. They accepted these plans graciously and with a determination to see their goal accomplished.

Site Selected

From the very beginning of this movement the site for the new church was never too great a problem. It was the general consensus that the location should be centrally located in the bounds of the proposed parish. The present site of our church and town site was chosen because of its geographical location and the terrain which together add beauty and accessibility to the church.

As the church now stands on the upper bank of south Big Creek, overlooking the fertile valley and the winding stream of Big Creek, with its banks lined with trees and shrubs, it projects a most picturesque scene of beauty and charm that nature can alone provide. Perhaps no other location offered all this, and that is why it was chosen.

Tracts of Land Donated

 

Mr. Moritz Baier, a prospective parishioner of the new parish donated the real estate for the church site. A tract of land consisting of five (5) acres, more or less, and described as follows: Beginning at a point fifteen (15) chains north of the south east corner of Section five (5), Township Fifteen (15), Range (16), thence west five (5) chains, then north ten (10) chains, thence east five (5) chains, then south ten (10) chains to the place of beginning. (Plain Deed Record, Vol. 46, page 388, Ellis County Court House, Hays, Kansas)

Mr. Bernard P. Huser, a prospective parishioner, donated the following real estate.

A tract of land consisting of five (5) acres, more or less, and described as follows: Beginning at a point eight and one half (8 ½) chains north of the south west corner of

Section Four (4) Township Fifteen (15), Range Sixteen (16), Thence east five (5) chains, thence north ten (10) chains, thence west five (5) chains, thence south ten (10) chains to the place of beginning. (Plain Deed Record, Vol. 46, page 388, Ellis County Court House, Hays, Kansas).

Mr. Walter Rajewski, a prospective parishioner, donated the following real estate. A tract of land consisting of five (5) acres more or less and described as follows: Beginning at a point twenty (20) chains north of the south west corner of Section four (4), Township Fifteen (15), Range Sixteen (16). Thence east five (5) chains, Thence North ten (10) chains, Thence West five (5) chains, Thence South ten (10) to the place of beginning. (Plain Deed Record, Vol. 46, page 388, Ellis County Court House, Hays, Kansas).

The north half of the Rajewski tract was designated as a cemetery. The remaining two and one half acres and the Huser tract were to be plotted into town lots, streets and alleys. Officially surveyed in 1910.

May 16, 1907 - Construction Begins

Fr. Jerome Mueller, O.M. Cap., Pastor of the Parent Church, St. Fidelis Church, Victoria, was placed in charge of the construction of the new Church. He appointed Fr. Emmeram Kausler, O.M. Cap., a recognized authority on building and designer of churches, to draw plans and to supervise the construction of the church. Fr. Emmeram was at that time the pastor of St. Francis Church, Munjor, Kansas. Moritz Baier was appointed foreman.

As the time arrived for the actual work of construction to begin, only seven families remained who committed themselves to undertake all responsibilities to finance and construct the church. Undaunted by the defection of the others these seven families, Mr. and Mrs. Moritz Baier, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard P. Huser, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Rajewski, Mr. and Mrs. Anton P. Dreiling, Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz Braun, Mr. and Mrs. Peter I. Weigel and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Reichert proceeded and set May 16 as groundbreaking day. In preparation for this day, rock was quarried and dressed in nearby quarries and delivered to the site. Sand and lumber were also hauled there. Everything was in preparation for the long awaited day. These seven families were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Ulrich H. Berens who were in the process of moving to their farm south east of Vincent. These eight families were the founders of our Parish.

Plans for the new church structure were completed by Fr. Emmeram and approved by the Bishop and accepted by the prospective parishioners. The plan called for a frame structure 32’ by 64’, with a seating capacity of 200. The design for the new church might well and fittingly be called a unique mission style structure. The estimated cost was set at $2,000.00.

May 16, 1907, marked the actual beginning of the construction. These eight men referred to as the founders, came with horses and mules, a walking plow and scrapers, picks and shovels to dig the foundation and a small cellar. The foundation and cellar were completed in a few days. Mr. Michael Weigel, a farmer and part-time carpenter, was hired to supervise the construction work. He came on June 4, and worked until June 22 when all work was suspended because of harvest time. He was hired at the rate of $2.50 per day. Volunteer labor was offered by friends and relatives, and the work progressed very rapidly. By June 22 the building was enclosed and the roof completed.

June 10 was a day long to be remembered. It was the day the church was shingled. A call for volunteer workers was put out in advance, and when the day arrived there were 39 men, not including the boys who also helped with the work. This number included the carpenter and the eight founders. The work was completed in one day.

One of the more humorous happenings of the construction period was shingling day. They chose sides. The German-Russian men on one side, the Germans and Low Germans were on the other side. A challenge arose to see which group would complete its side first. Although the German group completed their side first, all were winners as they were treated to a keg of cold beer. Everyone was happy over a job well done.

To finance the construction of the church was a major problem confronting the founders of the parish. They contributed not only their labor but every dollar they could possibly spare. However, this was not sufficient. They needed help and depended on their relatives, friends and businessmen. Four women took upon themselves the task of going out to solicit donations. Mrs. Baier and Mrs. Rajewski traveled together while Mrs. Huser and Mrs. Dreiling teamed up. With horse and buggy they canvassed the areas of Gorham, Walker, Victoria, Emmeram, and Hays. They went to their relatives, friends and businessmen to plead their cause. They were always well received and every hospitality was shown to them. They accepted money or material for the church. Any gift large or small was always welcome and appreciated. Not only gifts were offered to them but occasionally a meal, or a Tasse Kaffee und Kuchen, which they enjoyed while traveling along the countryside. They were so successful in their solicitation of funds, and the donations made by the founders that they were able to pay for the material for the church as it was needed.

It has been an unusual experience to review and study the record book that was kept by my father, the late Moritz Baier, where every donation whether large or small together with the donor’s name is recorded. Also where the material and the cost of some were purchased. Records show that lumber and supplies were purchased at Walker, Victoria and Hays. The lumber dealers made generous contributions to the building fund. Donations ranged from 25 cents to over $300.00. Not only Catholic friends donated, but non-Catholic businessmen and friends contributed. Among the generous donors were the late Harvey J. Penny and C. M. Wann. Mr. Penny was Catholic. They held extensive interest in land in this community and were generous donors to the parish for many years. The generosity of all these good people made it possible to construct our church on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Work on the church resumed after the fall farm work was completed. Volunteer workers offered their help to speed the completion of the church. Work on the interior began. Mr. Weigel, the carpenter, returned to work on October 21, and the construction work progressed rapidly. To provide space for a sacristy, living quarters for the pastor and a bedroom, a partition was installed near the west end of the church. Part of the original partition still is in the same location. The center section of the partition was so constructed that it could be removed at a later date to make way for a recessed altar space. The ceiling was boarded solid in preparation for a metal ceiling. The walls were prepared for plaster. Mr. McLain of Hays did the plastering and local help mixed and carried the cement. To provide an entrance to the church a vestibule 10’ x 10’ was added to the east end of the church. A small bell tower was built on the center of the roof to house the bell. Following a custom of laying the floor of a church on a sand bed, the same method was also used here. The purpose of doing this was to eliminate floor drafts and to make a firm and more silent walking floor. In years to come this type of a floor proved to be a haven for termites and many floors had to be removed and replaced.

To provide water for the site a well was dug. It was located about twenty feet south from the southwest corner of the church. It measured about 25 feet in depth and had a limited amount of water supply. A pump was installed and this well provided water for the pastor and later the Sisters. The exterior of the church was painted and also the woodwork in the interior. Since the windows had just plain glass panes, the panes were painted with a light color paint and scored diagonally. The purpose of this was two-fold. It gave the window panes and the interior of the church a better appearance, and secondly it obscured the exterior view from the interior.

While the men were busy at work at the church the women were not idle, they had much to do. Donations were always welcome and especially now as there was nothing in the line of furnishings and paraphernalia for the church. They made altar linens, Mass server cassocks and surplices and whatever they could make to furnish the church. Due to lack of funds, only the most essential things were obtained and purchased from donated money. To aid the new parish, St. Fidelis Church of Victoria, donated some vestments and a monstrance. St. Catherine Parish, Catherine, donated a side altar which served as the high altar for many years. St. Francis Parish, Munjor, donated a communion railing. Bernard Huser donated funds to purchase a chalice. Moritz Baier donated a new parlor organ for the choir. The Rajewski family donated funds to purchase items for the altar and the sanctuary. Henry H. Robben and Clement G. Robben donated funds to purchase a bell. The bell was purchased from Montgomery Ward and Co. The bell weighed 350 pounds. The cost was $20.00 plus $4.87 freight. St. Fidelis Menner Verein of Victoria donated $50.00. This society of men was very active in Victoria for many years and its membership extended into the neighboring parishes as the members retained their membership after the Vincent Parish was founded.

Choir Organized

 

The original plan for the church did not call for a choir loft due to the limited height of the ceiling and available space. A small enclosed stage about three feet from the floor was built in the northeast corner of the church. It measured 8’ x 10’ feet. This space was used for a choir until 1925. Walter Rajewski, Lorenz Braun and daughters constituted the first choir. Agnes Rajewski, daughter of Walter Rajewski, became the first organist. They rehearsed in preparation for dedication day.

 

Dedication Day

 

The church structure was completed in early December of 1907, and arrangements were made for the dedication of the church. The structure, simple in design both exterior and interior, did present an atmosphere of great satisfaction in return for many days of hard labor and sacrifice. The interior was neat, cozy and quite devotional.

The first Holy Mass to be offered in the new church was said on dedication day December 18. Prior to the Mass, the church was dedicated and blessed by Fr. Jerome Mueller, O.M. Cap., pastor of St. Fidelis Church, Victoria, Kansas, who was delegated by Bishop Cunningham, Bishop of the Concordia Diocese, to perform the dedication ceremony. Fr. Pancratius Dockler, O.M. Cap., preached the festive sermon. Fr. Matthew Hau, O.M. Cap., Fr. Emmeram Kausler, O.M. Cap., and Fr. Vincent Brandt, O.M. Cap., the first pastor, were present in the sanctuary. The first two Mass servers of the parish and who assisted at the dedication Mass were Henry Huser and Joseph Rajewski. They were assisted by Alex J. Dreiling and Peter P. Dreiling servers from the St. Fidelis Church. Shortly thereafter Thomas Baier and Wendelin A. Dreiling became Mass servers. Henry Huser’s and Joseph Rajewski’s services as servers were short lived as they both joined the choir. Henry remained on the choir until his death in Nov. 1966. Joe sang until several years ago when he and his wife moved to Hays to retire.

Dedication day was a cold stormy day. Nevertheless, many friends and relatives attended the ceremony. A dinner was served in the homes of the parishioners for members of the clergy, relatives and friends.

A large collection and donations were received on dedication day. Several families expressed their desire to join the parish and contributed generously on that day.

For the families of this new parish, dedication day was a day of rejoicing and especially a day of thanksgiving. Their long awaited desire and dream had been fulfilled. A House of God now stood in their midst. They were grateful to their many benefactors. It was through their generosity in contributing both labor and funds that made the construction possible. They were especially jubilant on this day for being debt free. The cost of material and labor amounted to $1700.00. An additional $300.00 was invested in furnishings for the church.

From this great day to the present our church stands as a living memorial, reminding us of the courage, perseverance and untold sacrifices the founders of our parish made not only for themselves but also for the future generations.

 

Patron Chosen

 

Since all the families involved in the formation of our parish were German speaking people, it was thought proper and most fitting to name the church after the great Apostle of Germany, St. Boniface. The feast day of our Patron is observed on June 5, of each year and for many years in the past a Solemn High Mass was offered on this day, in honor of St. Boniface.

 

New Town Named Vincent

 

When the parishioners were informed that their first Pastor was to be

Rev. Father Vincent Brandt, O.M. Cap., they decided to name the new town site in honor of their Pastor.

First Pastor Assigned

Fr. Vincent, the first Pastor of St. Boniface Church officially became pastor on dedication day. No doubt he felt honored to receive the appointment. It is also certain that he realized the many needs of this new parish. Despite the many handicaps confronting him and the parish, one thing that overshadowed all these problems was that he could administer the spiritual needs of his congregation and leave the rest to the good Lord.

During his tenure as pastor, records show that many urgently needed articles were acquired for the church such as vestments, statues, a ciborium, oil stocks, a chalice and many other items. All this was made possible by donations from the parishioners and friends.

The first two committeemen to be appointed were Moritz Baier and Lorenz Braun and they served for some time during the early years of the parish existence. Moritz Baier assumed the duties as sacristan and served in that capacity until 1924.

In 1908 the cemetery was officially surveyed and the tract plotted into lots, streets and alleys. No cross was erected at that time due to lack of funds.

To provide meals for the pastor and visiting clergy, Mr. and Mrs. Moritz Baier offered to board the priest. Breakfast was taken to the rectory for the pastor. For the noon and evening meal the pastor would to the Baier home. When inclement weather prevailed the pastor would be hauled by buggy or wagon and an occasional sled ride during the winter months to and from the Baier home for his meals. The pastors always enjoyed a home cooked meal and their presence at the table always created an atmosphere of reverence and dignity and current local and world problems were the general topics of discussion.

Beginning in 1016 the Rajewski family boarded the pastor and continued to do so for a number of years.

Transportation Furnished for the Pastor

Since the only method of transportation was by horse and buggy or wagon, the parishioners took turns to get and return the pastor from Victoria on weekends so that regular services could be held at Vincent. The Pastor would announce during Mass whose turn it would be to get the Pastor the following weekend. The Pastor would set the day and time. Ordinarily the pastor would be gotten on Friday after dinner and returned on Monday morning after Mass. During the summer months when the horses were needed for the field work he was taken beak to Victoria on Sunday afternoon. This method was used until 1923 when the when the parish bought a car for the Pastor. During this period of time, services were held regularly every Sunday. Only on one occasion, due to a misunderstanding as to whose turn it was to get the pastor, no Mass was said on Sunday. However, the parish recited a rosary, litany and other prayers as the time would not permit them to drive to a neighborhood parish to attend Mass.

Likewise the parishioners took turns to haul coal for the church and furnished kindling wood to light the stoves.

Religious Instructions

 

Religious instructions for the children of the new parish was not overlooked, and every effort was made to give them the best possible. As previously stated, the one room school house stood south and east of the church where the children were in attendance. Fr. Vincent, the pastor arranged for the children to leave school on Friday afternoon and to come to the church for instructions. The children walked from school to church. Occasionally the pastor would visit the school for instructions. On Sunday afternoon at 1:30 instructions were also given followed by either Vespers or Rosary and Benediction. The parents always attended and thereby could observe how their children were learning their religion. This custom prevailed for many years in the parish.

It is not difficult to conclude that the first pastor did an exceptionally well job in getting everything organized and functioning. He was a very kind and understanding man and whatever he did propose or carry out was never done for personal glory but all for the greater honor and glory for God. He served the Parish form December 18, 1907, to January 1909. During his tenure several more families joined the parish, and the seed for future growth had been planted.

Unique Nativity Scene

 

For a number of years our Pastor has created a most unique Nativity scene in our church for the Christmas season. Not only the parish but the entire surrounding community has enjoyed viewing one of the most beautiful and truly Christmas Nativity scenes prepared by our Pastor, Father Callistus. There is perhaps none to be found that can compare in beauty, originality, design, and one that exemplifies the true purpose and meaning of Christmas, as the one that is to be found in our church t Christmas time. On this scene you can find a beautiful set of figures replicas of the Holy Family, the Wise Men and Shepherds, the sheep and other animals that could be found in the land where our Lord was born. There are the hills with their ledge of rock, the valleys where the shepherds are watching their flock of sheep, the streams and waterfalls, and the pine trees adorned with lights and ornaments, portray such an illustrious scene that cannot be justly described in words. The revolving color light that casts a variety of colors on the scene giving the effect of early morning light, the brightness of midday and the setting of the evening sun. The bright shining star of Bethlehem above the scene casting out its inviting rays of light, inviting all to come to see our Lord in the crib. In addition to all this you will find an unusual collection of stones, shells, and pieces of ore from nearly country and island of the world. They are arranged on the landscaping in a manner to display their beauty. Why the stones and shells we may ask? As this collection of stones and shells represent nearly all the lands of the earth, they represent the people of the world for whom Christ was born, lived, suffered and died, for the redemption of all mankind. This is what makes the scene so impressive and inspiring.

It has taken a number of years to make up this collection of stones. After it became known that Father Callistus was interested in such a collection, friends, relatives, and others began collecting and sending rare and beautiful pieces of stone, ore or shells to him for his collection. Young men of our parish serving in the armed forces in foreign lands contributed towards this collection. Many were obtained by the pastor by writing to foreign missionaries for stones, etc., and through their cooperation the pastor has been able to make up this beautiful collection. It is no doubt one of the most unique collections to be found anywhere. Each stone and shell is labeled so that it can be fully identified as to its place of origin.

 

The Grotto

 

The late John Heger, a former parishioner, having great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, donated a statue of the Blessed Virgin in 1974, with a specific request that a grotto be built on a hill near Big Creek, and that this statue be placed therein. The site chosen is on the south bank of Big Creek one-half mile east of the church.

The grotto is built of rock found in that vicinity. Stone steps lead from the base of the hill to the towering ledge where the grotto stands. Father Callistus, Joseph Rajewski and his two sons constructed the grotto. Many visitors have visited the grotto since its erection.

John Heger, a brother of the late Mrs. Walter Rajewski, came to this country many years ago and worked in this community for many years. He made his home with the Rajewski family. He donated the greater part of his life’s savings to the church and he will always be remembered by those who knew him for his generosity.

He spent his final years of his life in California. He was born at GrossTriebendorf, Austria. He died August 7, 1949, at San Jose, California, and is buried there.

Disaster Strikes

 

For many years the parish did not experience any loss by fire or tornado. On December 6, 1962, a near disastrous fire threatened to destroy the church structure.

Redecoration of the interior of the church was in progress and the work was in the final stages of completion to have it ready for Christmas. The new altars and the communion rail had just been installed, new flooring laid and the men were putting on the final coat of paint on the ceiling. All seemed well when they left for lunch, but when they returned about forty five minutes later, they found the church filled with smoke. Edward F. Schulte, a painter and a member of the parish called the Victoria fire department for assistance. While waiting for the fire department to arrive, the painters fought the fire, holding it in control with fire extinguishers and water hose. Members of the parish soon arrived to assist in extinguishing the fire. Other units from Hays answered the call bringing water chemicals. The fire was brought under control, however considerable damage was done to the south wall of the church where the fire started. The sanctuary floor, communion rail and front pews received the most damage. Other than smoke tarnishing the beautiful altars, the church interior and stained glass windows were spared further effects. The loss was covered by insurance and the final estimate was set at $3997.50. Work immediately began to repair the damage done and by Christmas most of the work was completed. Origin of the fire remains unknown. After all repair work was completed our little church known as the “Pearl of the Prairie” again stood in all its beauty and splendor. The parishioners never can be too thankful to the Lord for sparing our church from total destruction.

1968-1997 - Highlights of St. Boniface Parish

 

1970 - Closing of Schools

 

The closing of the of the district grade school at Vincent in 1970 and transferring the students to Victoria, relieved Fr. Callistus of his Religious Education program here at St. Boniface. Fr. Callistus was also an instructor at St. Francis Seminary in Victoria at the time of it’s closing the same year.

 

1971 - 45th Anniversary of Fr. Callistus

 

On Sunday, June 20, 1971, Fr. Callistus celebrated his 45th. Anniversary as a priest.

A concelebrated High Mass of Thanksgiving was offered in St. Boniface Church. A dinner for all present, former parishioners and friends was served in the school basement after Mass.

 

1976 - 50th Anniversary of Fr. Callistus

 

After spending 48 years so faithfully serving the parishioners of St. Boniface, Fr. Callistus celebrated his 50th. Anniversary to the priesthood on June 10, 1976. Father privately celebrated his Golden Jubilee Mass with his parishioners and a few invited guests at Vincent.

Presiding at the Mass of Thanksgiving were Bishop Cyril Vogel and Bishop Firmin Schmidt along with numerous other area priests. A dinner and reception for all was held at the VFW Hall in Victoria.

 

1980 - Death of Fr. Callistus

 

Fr. Callistus had prayed that he would die among the people he had served most of his life. His prayers were answered on Sunday, April 13, 1980, just after celebrating Mass with his congregation at St. Boniface. Fr. Callistus had served as pastor of Vincent for more than 52 of his 54 years as a priest. Funeral services were held at St. Fidelis Church, Victoria, with Provincial Vincent Rohr and his Capuchin brothers concelebrating Mass with interment in St. Fidelis Cemetery. The Capuchin Friar has touched so many lives with his faithful devotion and gentle kindness, that a memorial in his name was established to help educate young men to the priesthood. Father Callistus would be pleased to know that he is remembered in this way, as he spent many years teaching the seminarians at St. Francis Seminary in Victoria.

 

1980 - Mission Parish

 

Following the death of Fr. Callistus, St. Boniface Church became a Mission Parish of

St. Fidelis in Victoria, without a resident pastor and daily Mass. The children received their religious education and related activities in Victoria. The Parish liturgy, religious education, and family life Commissions all have worked in cooperation with St. Fidelis under their guidelines.

Each Commission member his representation and works under with the Victoria Parish to minister the various programs available to the Parish.

 

1987 - 80th. Anniversary of Parish

 

St. Boniface Parish celebrated the 80th. Anniversary of its founding on Sunday, December 20, 1987. Bishop George K. Fitzsimons graced the occasion by offering a concelebrated Mass with Fr. Gene Emrisek and other attending area Priests in the Vincent Church. A dinner in Victoria was served for all members and guests.

 

1997 - 90th Anniversary of Parish

 

Bishop George K. Fitzsimons offered a Mass of Thanksgiving with concelebrants, Fr. Bernard Tomassetti and Fr. Felix Petrovsky, on Sunday, December 15, 1977, in honor of 90 years of St. Boniface Parish. After Mass a dinner and program was held in Victoria for all the attending clergy, parish members and guests.

 

1980-1997 - Fr. Callistus’ “Crib

 

For 70 years members of St. Boniface have enjoyed the celebration of the Birth of Christ with a very special “Little Town of Bethlehem”. The Nativity display, which began as a labor of love for Father Callistus in 1927, is now a monument to his memory. Each Christmas season since his death in 1980, members of the Parish have reassembled the display as a tribute to it’s creator and as a memorial in his name for the education of Seminarians in the Capuchin Order. The church is open for visitors on Sunday afternoon during the Christmas season and all are welcome to view Fr. Callistus’ unique work of Art.

 

1997

 

Over the last 90 years the community spirit has continued as the people have taken great pride in their Parish. The spiritual attributes have motivated the families to develop a bond that will hopefully last throughout the century, and the many years to come. May God grant us our wish!!!

1997-2007 - Highlights of St. Boniface Parish

 

2000-2005 - Cemetery Updated

 

Cemetery improvements the past years included the marking of the cemetery plots with numbered cement markers in all four corners. New iron gates the front entrance were installed, plus a drive through gate for vehicles to enter. A chain link fence replacing the barb wire was added. The Calvary Group on the altar was repaired and repainted. All of the work was done by volunteers in their spare time.

 

2002 - Death of Fr. Christian

 

Fr. Christian Fey, a former teacher and rector of St. Francis Seminary in Victoria, devoted most of his life to Capuchin seminaries and formation programs. He also was director of two Seminaries in Papua New Guinea for 15 years. Later in his career, he served various parishes in the area, including St. Boniface. His devotion and gentle kindness for our Parish and its members will never be forgotten!! May God bless Him!!

 

2003 - Death of Fr. Berard

 

Fr. Berard Tomassetti’s life was rich in variety and long in patience. After three years with the U.S. Navy in New Guinea during World War II, he returned home and began his studies for the Capuchin priesthood. Following his ordination, he returned to New Guinea as a missionary for 34 years. After his return in 1989, he ministered to various parishes in the area, including St. Boniface. Father was concelebrant of our 90th anniversary Mass, along with Bishop Fitzsimons. His loyalty and devotion for our Parish can never be expressed in words. May God Bless Him!!

 

1998-2006 - Parish Improvements

 

Improvements to our parish by volunteer members over the last 10 were the drilling of a new water well, and the water and electrical lines were installed underground. A new septic system, and plumbing and plumbing was replaced for both houses. The propane tank was moved and the lines replaced. The outside of the church, rectory, garage, and out buildings were repainted, and the rectory and garage shingled. Also, each spring a volunteer work day was scheduled to take care of minor repairs of the buildings and ground. Contracted labor this past year included the installation of a new air conditioning and heating system, plus new sidewalk improvements.

 

2006 - Christmas Memories

 

As we approach the 100th. Anniversary of our parish, the community spirit has continued and our members have taken pride in our “Little Town of Bethlehem” each Christmas season. Volunteers have spent many hours reassembling the display as a tribute to Fr. Callistus, its creator, and as a memorial in his mane for the education of Seminarians in the Capuchin Order.

After 80 years, visitors are still welcome after Sunday Mass and during the afternoons of the Christmas season to enjoy His work of art.

 

2007

 

As we look forward to our official 100th. Anniversary date of our Parish on December 18, 2007, may our parish members continue to work together and may they take a great pride in their Parish for many, many more years. On this centennial. Dedicated to St. Boniface, we pray that our Blessed Mother smile on her children in Vincent and keep us close to her Divine Son!

Two celebrations for our 10 year anniversary in 2007 planned!

 

The first took place at 11 a.m. on June 3, 2007, with an outdoor field Mass. All parishioners and former members of the parish and their families were invited to attend, with Mass under a tent with our Pastor, Bishop Fitzsimons, and visiting clergy presiding. A special Parish Choir, which included German songs and a Children’s Choir, sang during the Mass. The afternoon included a German meal being served, games for all, socializing, and an open-house of the restored former two room school house, hosted by the present owners.

Near the December 18th date of our 100th anniversary, a special celebration for our present parish members was held, marking the beginning of our parish and the first Mass offered on December 18, 1907. Mass was offered by our Pastor, Bishop Coakley, and visiting clergy. Afterwards, a parish dinner and gathering followed in Victoria.