Remembering Our Past:
Growth in Faith
We think of our founding as a parish in 1880 with mass being offered only sporadically in homes. For 70 years priests would reach out from Rolla or Cuba. We think of the subsequent little white wood frame church which was built on this very corner of McArthur and served the people until the small congregation, in 1952, was able to build the solid brick and concrete church we have today. Even though we were small and did not have a resident priest until 1953 in Fr. Justin Brauner, we had already produced a man, Paul Dent, who would give his life to the missions as a Jesuit and die in India in 1982. The Jesuits would also receive Edward Fieser as a brother. He would die in 1978. Maude Booty would join the Sisters of St. Joseph, Mark Dean, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and Mark Dolan, a diocesan priest in St. Louis. A year after the church was built a young local would lose his life in the service of country in Korea.
In 1954 under the Resurrectionist priests, things began to move quickly with a mission in Bunker being opened in 1956, Montauk in 1957 and Licking in 1960. The School Sisters of St. Joseph offered 18 capable sisters over the years operating a school in the convent and then in a new brick school from 1962 until 1969 but they served until 1985. As the mining jobs and sewing jobs began disappearing we experienced a loss in the number of children. Many realized that this was still a great place to retire. In 1968 the Walt Weber family of St. Louis replaced the Quansit hut used for a church in Joy with a beautiful hand made log cabin structure near Montauk. In 1976 a nice rectory was built to accommodate the three priests and the little shanties were removed.
As the church continued to grow the parishioners have truly given of themselves to see that the grounds continued to accommodate them. In the last 10 years this has included turning the church basement into classrooms, creating handicap access to it and all other buildings. It also included changing the school into a modern hall where the ladies have developed quite a reputation for fried chicken dinners and their free meals for the hungry, as well as more storage for the food that is given away. Perhaps more importantly has been the development of worship space and gathering at both Salem and Bunker.
What gratitude we have to our Father for our wonderful privilege of sharing the faith journey here at Sacred Heart, Salem and Christ the King, Bunker. How I feel the word of St. Paul come alive when he says, "God has so constructed the body, that there may be no dissention in the body, but that all the members may be concerned for one another. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy." 1Corinthians 12:24-26. Today we are so blessed to share the history and legacy of so many faith-filled people who have made it possible to share at the Eucharistic table with Jesus, His disciples, and the one billion believers now surrounding the world.
Father Dan Hirtz, Pastor
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