Early Settlers. The First Church
The first Catholic settlers in the territory of the present St. Francis Congregation of Aviston were emigrants from Northern Germany, Hanover, Westphalia, and Oldenburg. Among them were Bernard Huelsmann (1839), Diederich Overbeck (1841), Herman Henry Markus, Gerhard Feldmann (1848), Bernard Wempe, Henry Stroot, Henry Merscher, Herman Robbe, Carle Stuever (1849). They engaged in farming and by hard and persevering labor and by the practice of rigid economy converted the wild and weedy prairies of the region into rich and fertile farms. Their parish church was at Hanover (now Germantown); their Post Office was Aviston, located on the old State Route about one mile North of the present village of Aviston.
When the Ohio and Mississippi (now B. & O.) Railroad was built through this territory in 1854, a station was located here through the influence and efforts of Mr. Samuel Hull, and called Hull Station. Some time later, because the mail was now transported by rail, the Post Office was moved to Hull Station, and the small hamlet became known as Aviston, after the name of the Post Office, and was later incorporated as “The Village of Aviston.”
In the early 60’s the number of Catholic families had increased to such an extent that a movement for the erection of a church and the organization of a new parish was general. At a meeting of the Catholics held in the depot building in the Spring of 1864 it was decided to seek the sanction of the Bishop for the formation of the new parish. A heated discussion of the question whether to build the church on the north or sough side of the tracks was finally settled by the generous offer of Samuel Hull, not a Catholic himself, to donate blocks 20, 21, and 28 on the south side, together with a cash contribution of one hundred dollars, provided the church would be built on one of those blocks. On an appointed day, Bishop Henry Damian Juncker, of Alton, came to Aviston accompanied by Father A. Reinecke, of Breese, and celebrated the first Holy Mass on Aviston Territory in a private residence. The house, which has since been replaced by a new building, was the first house north of the tracks on the west side of the west crossing. After the services the Bishop inspected the property of the proposed congregation, and decided that the church should be built on block 28.
Encouraged by their Bishop, the doughty pioneers, without the assistance of a priest, began to build their church in the Spring of 1864. A brick structure 80 by 50 feet was erected by Gerhard Rolfmeyer and Henry Dillmann, local contractors at a cost of $11,741.25. Owing to many difficulties caused by outside interference, lack of pastoral leadership, and shortage of labor, due to the war, the building was not completed until September, 1865. Mr. Rolfmeyer, one of the contractors, while engaged at work in the construction of the church, slipped and fell from a height of fifty feet, and died a few hours later. When the church was completed, Bishop Juncker appointed the Rev. Henry Boecker as Pastor of Aviston and Trenton. He arrived at Aviston, October 2, 1865, blessed the church, and celebrated the first High Mass on October 4, 1865, the first patron feast of the new parish. The records of the church date from that time.
Rev. Henry Boecker, First Pastor 1865-1875
Rev. Henry Boecker was born at Wessum, Westphalia (Germany), July 12, 1827. After his ordination in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 17, 1858, he labored in the missions of Mercer County, Ohio, for seven years. Following the invitation of Bishop H. D. Juncker, D.D. he came to Alton, October 1, 1865, and took charge of Aviston the following day, where he labor zealously and successfully until his death January 18, 1875. When Father Boecker came to Aviston, he found a newly-built church, but there were no vestments, altar linens, sacred vessels or other things required for Divine Services. On the occasion of the first Mass in the church he appealed for donations, and the sum of $678.00 was realized with which to purchase the necessary equipment. Other generous gifts followed soon after, so that in a year’s time the church was completely furbished; even a pipe organ was installed at a cost of $1,600.00. When Father Boecker took charge of Aviston, the parish had an indebtedness of $7,000.00 and a membership of 70 families.
During the first six months of his pastorate, Father Boecker resided at Trenton, but as soon as work on the rectory at Aviston began in May, 1866, he transferred his residence there, and thereafter said Mass at Trenton every other Sunday, until Trenton received a resident Pastor in 1868.
The rectory, a two-story brick building with four rooms on each floor, was built by Henry Dillmann in 1866 at a cost of $2,571.00. This same building served as a rectory until the new one was built in 1949.
The First School
The first school of St. Francis parish was a small frame building, the property of the Public School District. When the parish was organized, the territory of the congregation contained two Public School Districts known as District No. 1 and District No. 2, Sugar Creek Township. Since the families living in District No. 2 (South of Aviston) were almost exclusively Catholic, in order to facilitate the religious instruction of the children, the school house of that District was moved to the village of Aviston in 1866 and placed on the church grounds. Two years later this building was replaced by a two-room brick structure erected by the parish for the sum of $1,395.00. Father Boecker then urged the families living in District No. 1 (north of Aviston) to send their children also to the school of District No. 2 standing on church property, so that they might be able to attend religious instruction, which they did.
In consequence only a few non-catholic children remained to attend the school of District No. 1, and as these all lived in the Eastern part of the District close to the Lake Branch School in Breese Township, the directors decided not to hire a teacher, and to let those children attend either the Lake School or the school in Aviston. For several years the school of District No. 1 stood vacant, until in 1878 the two Districts were consolidated. In this manner the system of tax-supported schools, which exists in Aviston to this time, originated. In 1870 the parish built a four-room residence for the teacher and organist for $1,331.00 and two years later another room was added to the school.
Father Boecker’s Last Days and Death. Rev. L. Quitter, Administrator
The labors, cares and sacrifices of the pioneer years at Aviston, aggravated by the small-pox and cholera epidemics of 1872 and 1873, and taxed the health and strength of Father Boecker to the utmost. Bishop P.J. Baltes, D.D., successor to Bishop Juncker since the latter’s death, October 2, 1868, sent him an Assistant in the person of Rev. Longinus Quitter, November 23, 1874. However, his condition continued to grow worse through complications and he died January 18, 1875, and was buried in St. Francis Cemetery. In his last will, Father Boecker bequeathed to St. Francis Congregation his entire estate, which, however, amounted to less than $300.00.
Father Quitter, the Assistant, was appointed Administrator of the parish after the death of Father Boecker, but, through misunderstandings and disagreements with certain members of the parish, he became involved in unpleasant difficulties and he resigned September 27, 1875. For six months thereafter the parish was left without a Pastor. Holy Mass was celebrated only on Sundays by Father Still, Assistant to Father Bartels of Germantown. For sick-calls, Baptisms and other pastoral functions during the week the neighboring priests at Breese and Trenton were called in. Dissatisfied and discouraged, the parish broke up into factions, one blaming the other for existing conditions. Church support fell off, so that the parish not only defaulted on interest payments, but could not even pay current expenses, such as the weekly services of the assistant from Germantown. Under these conditions the appointment of the Rev. Frederick Lohmann as the second Pastor of Aviston in the Spring of 1876 was most fortunate, for he possessed the characteristics of firmness, of personal piety and zeal tempered with patience and prudence, which enabled him to reconcile the discordant elements and to cause the parish to flourish, both spiritually and materially.
Rev. Fred Lohmann, Pastor 1876-1917
Rev. Fred Lohmann was born at Drensteinfurt, Westphalia, April 24, 1842. He was ordained for the Diocese of Alton at the American College in Rome, May 8, 1869. After serving a y ear as Assistant at the Cathedral in Alton he was appointed Pastor at Hillsboro, October 8, 1870, where he remained until he came to Aviston, March 23, 1876. At that time the parish numbered 140 families, there were 120 children in school, and the indebtedness of the congregation amounted to $3,700.00.
Within three years the debt was paid, and a chime of four bells (B flat) was purchased for $2,639.00, and solemnly consecrated by Bishop Baltes, September 23, 1879.
In 1880, the old school was taken down and a new two-story brick building was constructed by Henry Stoff at a cost of $3,500.00. The following year a large cross of Navoo stone for $225.00 was erected on a high mound in the center of St. Francis Cemetery.
The New Church
The greatest undertaking of Father Lohmann at Aviston was the erection of the new church. As early as 1883, plans and specifications had been drawn by Henry Melcher, architect, of St. Louis, with the approval of the Bishop. According to these plans part of the old church was left standing and remodeled for the sanctuary and sacristies of the new church. To this was added to the west a transept 78 ft. wide, the nave, and a tower 185 ft. high, making the total length of the church 142 ft. Ground was broken on the site of the new church September 19, 1885, and the excavation of the basement, as well as the laying of the foundation, was completed before the end of the year. May 12, 1886, the general contract for the construction work was awarded to Henry Stoff and August Klutho, of Aviston, for their bid of $17,450.00. The total cost for all material, labor, and supervision of the new church amounted to about $42,000.00. The corner-stone laying, September 21, 1886, as well as the dedication of the church, July 6, 1887, were performed by the Very Rev. John Janssen, Administrator of the Alton Diocese after the death of Bishop Baltes, February 15, 1886. Father Janssen was consecrated as the first Bishop of the newly organized Diocese of Belleville, April 25, 1888.
At the close of the year 1887, in which the church was completed, the parish had a debt of $19,000.00. In less than ten years Father Lohmann was able by special collections and with the aid of generous donations and legacies to wipe out the entire debt and expend about $7,000.00 for furnishings, viz. high altar $800.00, side altars $1,284.00, stations of the cross $255.00, pulpit $475.00, statues $600.00, tower clock $725.00, and heating plant $1,800.00.
St. Francis Church was solemnly consecrated by Bishop Janssen October 26, 1892.
Father Lohmann’s 41 years as Pastor at Aviston are a record of continued progress. The buildings and improvements that arose under his management were wisely planned and promptly paid. He had no patience with debts. His last financial report of the parish at the end of the year 1916 showed that the congregation owned over $35,000.00 in bonds and other securities. His zeal in ministering to the spiritual welfare of his flock is reflected to this day in the deep faith and piety of his parishioners. He loved his people, and these in turn were devoted to him to the last, even when the infirmities of old age had weakened his strength and slowed his movements. No doubt one of the happiest events of the evening of his life was the Consecration of the Most Reverend Henry Althoff, D.D. a native son of his parish, as the second Bishop of the Diocese on February 24, 1914. After a short illness, Father Lohmann died, February 10, 1917, and was laid to rest in St. Francis Cemetery at the foot of the massive cross, which had been erected under his direction.
Rev. Albin Breinlinger, Pastor 1917-1926
After the death of Father Fred Lohmann, the parish was in charge of the Rev. J.J. Kuhls, as administrator, until the appointment of the Rev. Albin Breinlinger as Pastor. Father Breinlinger was born at Liptingen, Germany, February 29, 1852, and ordained July 25, 1875, at Brixen, Tyrol (Austria). Before coming to Aviston, Father Breinlinger had been Pastor at Millstadt for many years. He arrived at Aviston, April 26, 1917, and was solemnly installed by the Very Rev. John Keim, Dean. At that time the parish buildings, which ad then been standing for thirty and more years, were found to be in need of extensive repairs. In 1917 a new slate roof was placed on the church at a cost of $1,582.00. In 1919 art glass windows were installed by the Emil Frie Studios for $4,900. The same year $4,400.00 was expended for repairing the plastering of the walls and ceiling of the church, wiring the building for electric light, and frescoing the entire interior of the church.
The New School. School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The school had again outgrown its quarters, so in 1921 Father Breinlinger began the construction of the present modern school building, a brick structure with six classrooms on the first floor, a spacious auditorium on the second floor, and a basement under the entire building. In the basement, which serves as a dining room, separate apartments are partitioned off for a boiler room and a kitchen.
The total cost of the school was $54,480.00. The old school building was remodeled as a residence for the school Sisters, because it was at this time that the school, which had until then been taught by lay teachers, was placed in charge of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The Sisters arrived in Aviston, September 7, 1922, three days after the dedication of the new school.
Henry Gramann, Teacher and Organist
Outstanding among all the lay teachers who taught in St. Francis School during a period of over fifty years is Mr. Henry Gramann. Henry Gramann was born near Germantown, Illinois, March 15, 1857. After finishing his elementary and secondary education he attend the Catholic Normal School at St. Francis, Wisconsin, and graduated there in 1875. For seven years he taught school at Highland, Illinois, and in 1882 he came to Aviston as organist and principal of the school, which positions he held for almost forty years. A man of staunch faith and unfeigned piety, he was always loyal to his Church and devoted to his caling as a Catholic teacher and organist. He organized a men’s choir. Mr. Gramann also took an active interest in Catholic Society circles in Clinton County, and for several years he was Secretary of the Illinois Staatsverband, a federation of German Catholic Societies.
While stationed at Highland, he married Miss Theresa Schepperle, which union was blessed with thirteen children. He died at Aviston, February 2, 1930, and was buried in St. Francis Cemetery after a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by his former pupil, the Most Reverend Henry Althoff, D.D., Bishop of Belleville.
The High School
In 1923, the Aviston Community High School District was organized by a vote of the people residing within the district. Two additional classrooms were arranged on the second floor of the school building for the use of the High School. For twelve years the High School was taught by a male teacher as principal, assisted by one, and later by two Notre Dame Sisters. From 1934 until the opening of Mater Dei High School in Breese, the school was staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and lay teachers.
Father Breinlinger celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination August 19, 1925, and eight months later he resigned and retired to his private home in Red Bud, Illinois, where he died February 17, 1928. He was buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Red Bud, Illinois.
Rev. James Gillen, Pastor 1926-1932
Reverend James Gillen, the fourth Pastor of St. Francis Church, was born at Heisterberg, Germany, February 23, 1861. He came to this country in 1875, and after completing his studies at St. Francis, Wisconsin, was ordained May 9, 1886. Previous to his appointment as Pastor at Aviston he had been stationed at St. Joseph’s, Cairo, for 22 years. During his pastorate a new $4,000.00 Wicks Pipe Organ was installed in the church and dedicated October 3, 1928. In 1930 a new two-story brick addition to Sacred Heart Hospital was erected.
The Sacred Heart Hospital and Home for the Aged
The history of Sacred Heart Hospital and Home for the Aged dates back to the year 1881, when Henry Merscher advertised his property on Lots 6, 7, and 8 in block 22 for sale. To gain control of the property, on which a saloon was being operated, Father Fred Lohmann purchased it for the sum of $1,830. A year later, in 1882, the building was remodeled for a small hospital, and on the feast of the Sacred Heart of that year the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis from Springfield, Illinois, assumed charge and remained for seven years, until June 20, 1889. On February20, 1891, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ were engaged to take charge, and they conducted a hospital and home for the aged until 1962, at which time it was closed.
Father Gillen, finding the duties of his office too burdensome for his age, resigned June 13, 1932, but before his resignation could become effective, he took seriously ill Sunday night, June 19, and passed away early the following morning. After a Pontifical Requiem in St. Francis Chruch, June 23, his remains were taken to Carghar, Ohio, for interment.
Rev. Cletus J. Cunningham, Pastor 1958 to the Present
Father Cunningham was born in East St. Louis, July 29, 1918. He attended Central Catholic High School, East St. Louis, St. Henry’s Seminary, Belleville, and St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois. Ordained by Bishop Althoff on February 24, 1946, he returned to St. Mary of the Lake to obtain the Licentiate of Sacred Theology. He served as assistant at St. Andrews, Murphysboro, Blessed Sacrament, Belleville, and St. Joseph’s, East St. Louis. In August of 1952 he was transferred as chaplain of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville. During that time he was Diocesan Moderator of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Men and was appointed Defender of the Bond of the Matrimonial Court. Father Cunningham was appointed administrator of St. Teresa Parish, Marydale, in August of 1957, and named superintendent of Mater Dei High School. After the retirement of Monsignor Lohman, as pastor of Aviston in July of 1958, he was made administrator of the parish until July, 1962, when he was appointed pastor.
During the administration and pastorate of Father Cunningham, not many material improvements were made. The parish plant was in good condition under the able administration of Monsignor Lohman. Repainting of the interior of the school was undertaken in the summer of 1961 with volunteer labor. The entire church was waterproofed and tuck pointed in 1962. Two old buildings were torn down during his administration. The old rectory which had served as classrooms for the Aviston High School was demolished in 1959. In 1962 the Sacred Heart Home for the Aged was closed and the old frame structure was torn down. The new addition was remodeled and used as a convent for the grade school sisters. The old convent has been used as temporary quarters for the Don Bosco Latin School for the last three years. This school served as the specialized school for Latin for the first year seminarian students of the diocese until discontinued in June, 1965.
The two room pre-fabricated annex formerly used as classrooms for the Aviston High School has been used by the St. Jude Special School for Exceptional Children since 1963. The school was maintained by the North Central Deanery Council for Handicapped Children under the moderatorship of Rev. Julius Schoen and at present is being taught by Sister Mary Chaminade SSND.
At the present time there are 257 families and 1,078 souls in the parish. In 1964 there were 42 baptisms, 7 marriages, 19 deaths. The grade school numbers 282 pupils.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. George Lohman, Pastor 1932-1958
Rt. Rev. Msgr. George Lohman was born at St. Libory, Illinois, July 25, 1887, and ordained at the Pontificial College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, June 17, 1913. For seven years he held positions as Assistant at Sacred Heart, East St. Louis, and at the Cathedral, Belleville. While at Belleville he was also secretary to the Most Reverend Bishop. After a short stay for two years as Pastor at Flora he returned to Belleville as secretary to the Bishop and chaplain at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
On August 4, 1924, he was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s, Centralia, where he remained until he came to Aviston June 23, 1932.
During his tenure as pastor of the Aviston parish, his abilities and talents were not confined to the parish alone. In October, 1933, he became a member of the Board of Examiners of the Diocese, and in 1939, Diocesan Consultor and Judge of the Matrimonial Tribunal. He retained these positions until failing health forced his resignation in 1956. In 1940 he was appointed Dean of the Aviston Deanery. He remains in that position even until now. On June 5, 1949, his excellent work in the parish, deanery and diocese was recognized by Pope Pius XII when he was given the rack of Apostolic Prelate with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor.
Monsignor George Lohman was responsible for many material improvements in the Aviston parish during his stay for twenty-six years. One of his first concerns was that of the Sacred Heart Home for the Aged. A new heating system was put in and the entire kitchen department was remodeled with new equipment being installed. Sterilizing equipment and necessary surgical instruments were added. These improvements were made during the years of 1932-36.
In June of 1936 the following church improvements were made: the communion rail was lowered; a hardwood floor was laid in the area occupied by the pews; the rest of the church-floor was covered with Flexo-tile. During 1937 the auditorium on the second floor of the school building was remodeled into quarters for the high school and plans were made for erecting a combination auditorium-gymnasium. The completion of the building was accomplished in March, 1938, at a cost of approximately $15,000.00.
During World War II, all building came to a halt, but a post-war improvement program began during this time. This program included the building of a new rectory which was accomplished in 1949 at a cost of $36,421.82. Other improvements completed during this time included the remodeling of the church sacristies and the tuck pointing and waterproofing of the church. The school was also repaired during this period.
In 1951 the entire church was redecorated at a cost of $10,500.00. In addition, the church was rewired and new lighting fixtures installed. A sound system was added, the kneelers were recushioned and new vestment cases were erected.
In 1952 the tower clock was renovated and modernized. The following year, 1953, a sanitary sewage system was installed.
In February of 1956 a tornado damaged the tower of the church. The top level of brick work had to be dismantled and replaced with new masonry walls. The old spire was replaced with a new steel copper-covered spire and cross about thirty feet in height. The tower clock was also renovated with new Perma-glass clock dials and with aluminum hands. The cost of this work was approximately $30,000.00. In conjunction with this work, in 1957, the bell-system was electrified for automatic ringing of the bells.
Monsignor Lohmann was also interested in civic improvements. In 1935, after the depression had caused widespread unemployment, it was evident that Aviston needed an industry to provide jobs for the local people. A group of local businessmen, together with Msgr. Lohman, persuaded John Huber of St. Louis, to open a shoe factory in Aviston in 1936. Other civic projects that received his whole-hearted support were: the installation of the municipal water supply, forming of the Chamber of Commerce, organization of the Boy Scouts, the laying of the large water main to reduce insurance rates, the widening of the Aviston-Albers road, and the installation of curbing along the church property.
Many vocations blossomed during the pastorate of Msgr. Lohman. During this time the following young men were ordained to the Priesthood: Rev. Paul Holthaus, Rev. Edmund Schumacher, Very Rev. Msgr. Gregory Holtgrave, Rev. Urban Kuhl, Rev. Fred Renschen, and Rev. Harry Schumacher.
The following are the vocations to the Religious life: Sister Mary Paulita, formerly Jane Dall; Sister Marie Paul, formerly Eulalia Holthaus; Sister Mary Karen Rose, formerly Monica Huelsmann; Sister Mary Louis, formerly Mary Markus; Sister Mary Hermaine, formerly Helen Ottensmeier; Sister Mary Margaret, formerly Margie Ottensmeier; Sister Mary Theresta, formerly Marie Peek; Sister Mary Doris, formerly Eugenia Poettker; Sister Mary Clement, formerly Martha Strieker; Sister Mary Leon, formerly Marie Strieker; Sister Mary Theodoretta, formerly Marcella Strubhart; Sister Virginia Marie, formerly Margaret Strubhart; Postulants Carol Markus, Joan Markus; Aspirant Jeanne Goestenkors.
Monsignor Lohman retired from active service in July of 1958.
Consecration of the Church – October 26, 1892
One of the outstanding events in the history of St. Francis Church was its consecration on October 26, 1892. The diary of Rev. Fred Lohman, pastor at this time, gives a very vivid description of this event.
“October 26 had been designated as the day for the consecration. I myself wished to serve as the Master of Ceremonies, and had personally cared for and concerned myself about all the preparations for the celebration. For the custody of the sacred relics an altar had been prepared in the hospital chapel. The evening before, Tuesday the 25th of October, the Right Reverend Bishop and fifteen priests took up their abode with me. As darkness fell, a huge torchlight parade went into formation on the school grounds, and led by a music band marched over Clinton Avenue and Third Street until it reached the rectory. During the procession, fireworks were burned off in various places in the town. In front of the rectory, Mr. Henry Gramann, the teacher, in the presence of the Right Reverend Bishop and all the priests, gave an address in which he expressed a thought he had kept in mind to the present day, a thought blessed their new church. He had told them to stick together, and earnestly admonished them to get their debts paid, at which time, he would be glad to come back to consecrate their church with joy. He went on stating that their Reverend Pastor had told them after the last collection he had taken up that they would need no more of them to pay their church debt. At that time everyone in the parish was filled with gladness, but now that the bishop had graced them with is presence to consecrate the church, to lay the crown, so to say, on the achievement, the entire congregation was filled with jubilation. The congregation thanks the Right Reverend Bishop for his kindness and good will toward the parish, and in order to give expression to their reverence and appreciation, he called on all the people for a three-fold acclamation for His Excellency.“
The Right Reverend Bishop graciously thanked them for their attitude and for the honor they had given him, and he was happy, he said that the people had heeded his earlier admonition so well, and for that reason the church in Aviston was the very first one he had consecrated as bishop.
“I had a very brief address then on the Papacy and the power and dignity of the Catholic Church, which I brought to a close by calling for a toast on Pope Leo XIII.
“The Very Reverend Vicar General, William Cluse, then held a longer discourse in which he talked about the Right Reverend Bishop and about the parish, ending with an acclamation for the congregation. After this, the crowd began to break up, when suddenly they were stopped by a cry from someone in the group who shouted, ‘hold on!! We have to give one more cheer for our good pastor! With this cheer the ceremony came to an end.
“On the next day, Wednesday, October 26, the priests began saying their Holy Masses at 4:45. We had set up six altars, and so by 6:15 all sixteen Reverend Fathers had finished their Mass. The Right Reverend Bishop then went to the church personally to examine whether everything was in correct order there. After this, he went over to the hospital chapel to begin the preparatory orations before the relic altar. During this time many strange priests arrived. This was at 7:15. After the orations were completed, all the priests in procession with singing accompanied the bishop to the church to consecrate it and the high altar. The entire procedure went over smoothly without a break very quickly. Into the high altar were placed the relics of the holy martyrs Severus, Justinus, and Concordia. Mr. Diedrich Lampe, who had carried the holy water container for the blessing of the first church and for the remodeled one, permitted no one else to do this for the consecration of the church.
Near eleven o’clock, preparations began for the celebration of the Pontifical High Mass. For this, the Reverend Francis Joseph Lohmann from Damiansville and the Reverend Joseph Meckel from Highland assisted as deacons of honor; Reverend Anton Brefeld from St. Libory as archdeacon; Reverend Otto Meier and Nicholas Dietrick as deacon and subdeacon, respectively; I, myself, served as Master of Ceremonies. The Reverend Frank Bonsel from Trenton had the festive sermon. He explained the difference between the blessing the consecration of a church, and then of the special value to the congregation in having a consecrated church.
“In addition to the above named priests, also these of the Reverend Clergy were present: Reverend Fathers William Klevinghaus from SS Peter and Paul Church in St. Louis, Missouri; William Merscher and Henry Eggenstein from the Diocese of Alton; from the Diocese of Belleville, William Cluse, Vicar General, A. Demming, Bernard Claus, Thomas Day, Frank Marks, Theodore Kamann, Felix Ferbers, James Gerard Toennies, Francis Bergmann, and J.N. Enzleberger. The names of other priests I have forgotten.
“Since the Right Reverend Bishop stood the strain of the ceremonies very well, and the weather was ideal, there reigned among the clergy a very genial spirit and so with joking and story-telling the afternoon wore away very quickly, until His Excellency and many other priests took their leave at 4:15, midst the ringing of the church bells and the cheering of the people of Aviston to speed them on their way home.
“The St. Francis Church in Aviston is the first church consecrated by the Right Reverend Bishop J. Janssen, and the third church to be consecrated in the Diocese of Belleville. In Germantown, the Right Reverend Bishop H.D. Juncker had consecrated the church in 1868, and the Right Reverend Bishop P.J. Baltes had consecrated the church in St. Libory in 1883.
“The Aviston parish has until now received the following appointments for the church from kind benefactors who gave generously: The high altar and the pulpit chiefly from the Widow Angela Stroot; the Pieta and its altar from Herman Henry Markus and his children, Frank, Henry, John, and Anna; the Agony in the Garden of Olives and its altar, from the children of the family of Henry Nettemeier, Joseph, Henry, and Bernard Nettemeier; the Blessed Virgin Altar from the Widows Maria Albers and Elizabeth Heimann; the St. Joseph Altar from Mesrs. Theodore Peek and Henry Groene. Here we may add the statues for the high altar, St. Frederick was given by Father Frederic Lohmann, the statue of St. Elizabeth by Widow Elizabeth Lemming, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary by Mr. Gerard Hermes, and Mr. Frank Sudholt.