In the early 1830’s a Catholic movement began with the building of a log chapel in Minster. Soon six miles west a log church honoring St. John was erected. The march of Christ into southern Mercer County had begun in a “procession” of churches. Within a year or so, a church building was taken up in St. Rose. Similarly, building of churches began in nearby Cassella, St. Henry, St. Anthony, Philothea, and Egypt.
One day (1852) this “procession of churches” approached the people of the village of Chickasaw. There was stirring for a church in the surrounding area to the northwest. St. Sebastian was still woods and not suited for building. (The village came only after the church was built.) Adam Gerlach, Albert Stammen, John Will and Herman Schwieterman were sent to confer with the people of Chickasaw. The church was to be built in the neighborhood lying northwest of the present mill some 100 feet west of the line, which once were the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad tracks. Albert Stammen offered to donate five acres of land. This offer, however, was not welcomed by the Chickasaw people; according to one account they preferred having a hotel. Chickasaw was passed by; the procession of church building continued. The church of St. Sebastian was built in the woods. Then came St. Aloysius in Carthagena, St. Francis in Cranberry Prairie, St. Peters, St. Wendelin, Immaculate Conception in Celina, Holy Trinity in Coldwater, St. Paul in Sharpsburg, St. Bernard in Burkettsville, and Our Lady Help of Christians in Ft. Recovery.
The Chickasaw folk, two generations later, were of another mind. They were trying to gain a place in the Catholic march. In October 1894, the people of Chickasaw were busy hauling stones for the foundation of a building, 60 x 30 x 16 feet. The building did not achieve clear identity at first. Correspondents in “Der Mercer County Bote” sometimes called it “chapel (hall)”. Franz De Curtins and helpers took the job of painting it in March of 1895.
Sometime in the spring of 1895, a petition was made to the Archbishop for a chapel giving as a reason that some old people would like to go to Mass occasionally during the week. Permission was granted, and a “Chapel of Ease” was made of the hall (which became the nave portion of the church at the addition of 1903). Mass was said in it one or two days of the week, but no services were allowed on Sundays and Holy Days. The first Mass was said on Friday, October 11 at 8:00a.m. The Catholic people attended Sunday Mass at St. Sebastian, or belonged to St. John or St. Rose.
The next year, March 26, 1896, lots 19 and 20 on which the building was standing were deeded to Archbishop Elder by William and Josepha Miller to hold in trust “for the Catholics worshiping at the Chapel at Chickasaw”. In June of 1896, Charles Desch had the contract to put a tower on the Chapel. A bell arrived on May 9, 1898.
The increase of Catholics in Chickasaw strengthened the thinking of having their own church. It seems “that having to cross the railroad track every time they wished to attend divine services” was a factor. Often they walked the tracks to the Niekamp farm, cut across it to Sebastian Road. The farmers had their horses for transportation to church, but the town people walked the railroad ties to church services.
The strong thoughts for their own church formed a divine course of action. On the first Sunday of January 1903, pew renting day at St. Sebastian, none of the Chickasaw people rented pews and nearly everyone took prayer books, rosaries, etc. out of the pews. On the following Sunday, January 11, only two families came from Chickasaw. The others gathered in the Chapel of Ease to begin the rosary when the bells of St. Sebastian rang for High Mass. To make matters more critical, at 3:00a.m. on the 12th of January, heartbreaking flames destroyed St. Sebastian Church and contents. The question of a church at Chickasaw was then compounded with the question of rebuilding the burnt out church.
The Precious Blood Parish record books begin at this time. The first baptism listed is dated January 14, 1903, was Rose Elizabeth Falke, daughter of John and Bernachine Falke, just two days after the fire. Other baptismal records are noted “at Chickasaw” by Father Antonius Dick, C.PP.S., pastor of St. Sebastian at the time, who became first pastor of Precious Blood Church of Chickasaw. The first marriage was that of Matilda Dorsten to Bernard Borger in October 1903. The first Holy Communions were received April 10, 1904.
It’s not certain that parish functions were started immediately after the fire. On Friday after the fire, word was sent that no Mass would be held at St. Sebastian and the people were to go to a church convenient to each.
Divided opinions about the rebuilding of St. Sebastian Church enlivened desires for their own parish in the people of Chickasaw and the folks around Montezuma as well. On January 21, a stormy meeting of the three groups was held in the chapel at Chickasaw. This meeting achieved no conclusion. As no news was coming around, the people at St. Sebastian chose Ignatz Dabbelt and Henry Mestemaker to see the Archbishop on February 4, 1903. The Archbishop was under the impression an agreement had been reached at the earlier January 21 meeting, that the church would be built in Chickasaw. Learning of no such agreement, the Archbishop directed them to the dean, Father Frank Quatman of Sidney. Father Quatman studied the matter and approved the rebuilding of St. Sebastian Church, which was signed for final approval by the Archbishop on February 14, 1903.
What went on at this point is uncertain. However, according to the correspondent in “Der Bote”, the decision of Archbishop Elder that Chickasaw “ist Selbstandig” and his permission to enlarge the church was announced to the people at the first solemn High Mass in Chickasaw on Easter Sunday, April 12, 1903.
There was no dallying. From among the 58 families, Father Antonius Dick, C.PP.S. named the first wardens: Joseph Seitz, Heinrich Niekamp, John Will and Gerhard Schroeder. Trees were felled and sawed and sufficient wood was on the property by the Saturday after Easter.
Father Paulinus Trost, C.PP.S. second pastor (May 1903) is said to have painted the church. The windows were in place by the beginning of July. The first funeral at the church took place July 24, 1903. Friederich Runnebaum, was interred at St. Sebastian Cemetery.
The third pastor, Father Anthony Tabke, diocesan priest came in early October 1903. At this time several acres of land north of the village were bought for the cemetery. The first burial in it was the thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Hartings on October 27, 1903.
On November 3, 1903, William and Josepha Miller deeded the rest of the present parish property to the Archbishop, “In trust, however, for the congregation of Chickasaw, Mercer County, Ohio, for a residence, school house, church, or house of worship and religious services, or other religious education or charitable purposes under the faith, rules, usages and government of the Roman Catholic Church”. The property is lot numbers 16, 17, 18, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47. This completed the church block, as we know it today.
The parish grew and dwindled with the population. From around twenty baptisms per year at first, the number fell to ten or so in the years after 1916. From 1932 to 1946, the baptisms were consistently below ten. A rise came and 22 were baptized in 1951. After this the number remained in the neighborhood of twenty.
The growing town population overburdened the old structure. Father Joseph Dick began to look toward the possibility of a new church and strove to set aside some reserve funds for this purpose. However, the condition of his health prevented his spearheading a full effort.
When Father Dick retired in 1962, Father Francis Uecker, C.PP.S. took on this project. With the help of a Building Committee and all the parishioners, the project was in full swing. Members of the Building Committee for the new church were: Gerhard Bruns, Victor Garman, Henry Hein, Ernest Heitkamp, Oscar Heitkamp, Silverious Homan, Elmer Kremer, Bernard Rentz, John Ronnebaum and William Spoltman. The plans of the new church were developed by Robert Holtmeier, architect. In September of 1965, Archbishop Karl J. Alter gave approval to the project.
Ground Breaking November 28, 1965
Groundbreaking was held on the first Sunday of Advent with Monsignor Henry Ausdenmore, Dean of the St. Marys Deanery officiating assisted by Father Francis Uecker, C.PP.S. and Father Anselm Boeke.
No further building progress was made during the winter, until the middle of March 1966 when the excavation began. Construction work then continued steadily.
The cornerstone was laid and blessed on Thursday, February 23, 1967, by Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Edward A. McCarthy of Cincinnati that followed a Mass, which was held at 12:00 noon in the old church. Also in attendance was Monsignor Clarence Liebold of Coldwater, Dean of the St. Marys Deanery.
The all brick church is built on church property west of the old church, directly behind the rectory and is facing to the north. It seats 426 persons.
The ceiling of the new church is of wood decking with exposed beams. It has an usher and cry room and the choir is located behind the alter. The church is designed in a cross form with seating on three sides. It also has a full basement for various church activities.
Other people assisting Father Boeke and the building committee were the officers of the Holy Name Society and the Rosary-Altar Sodality. Officers of the Holy Name Society were: president, Paul Huelsman; vice president, Norbert Garman; treasurer, Ivo Bruns and secretary, Cyril Thobe. Rosary-Altar officers were: president, Mrs. Andrew (Rosemary) Droesch; vice president, Mrs. Ivo (Jean) Bruns; treasurer, Mrs. Robert (Esther) Fleck and secretary, Mrs. Paul (Alice) Huelsman.
Officials of the village who helped in the building project were Mayor, Urban Zahn; clerk, Norbert Tangeman and councilmen, Roman Elking, Luke Clune, Vernon Eyink, Eugene Ballweg, Edwin Puthoff and Roger Knapke.
General contractor for the building was the Harold Dorsten Construction Company of Minster, Ohio; Frank Plumbing & Heating of St. Henry, Ohio had the plumbing and heating contract; Schoch’s Inc., of Coldwater, Ohio had the interior decorating; Freytag did the brick work and Hecklers Corp. of Celina, Ohio did the electrical work.
To allow for the dismantling of the old structure and completion of the driveway and grounds work, use of the new church began May 19, 1967. With school children and some adults in attendance, the first Mass was offered on this date, a Friday (as was the day of the very first Mass in Chickasaw).
Some of the decorative designs of the new church have the theme of the Precious Blood as their inspiration. The cross on the front face of the church accompanied by windows with red glass was thought of as drops of blood from the cross of Calvary. From inside you see the red – as Precious Blood flowing downwards or as flames of love going upwards.
The ceramic tile beside the main door continues the thought of the Blood of our Redemption. The five crosses with red spot expresses the five wounds. The chalice with a crown of drops of Christ’s Blood refers to the present. Now in the Mass, the chalice, the Blood of Christ’s sacrifice flows out to each soul prepared.
By baptism we enter the fold of Christ, the family of God. The Baptismal Font stands prominently at the entry as a reminder to us of our birth into the life of God and that we are sharers in Christ. The design on the glass of the baptistery is the Holy Trinity; the Father who sent the Son (recall the voice from heaven at the baptism of Christ – three lives from above) and the Dove hovering over Christ (the cross). The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son and from them the Holy Spirit is sent upon the baptized (the lines continuing downward from the Trinity). The scattered stars can remind us of the angels and saints who constantly are in attendance at these great mysteries of “Faith” happening in our earthly lives.
The room around the altar expresses the sacredness and importance of what is done at the altar. The openness brings us to understand we are united with the action. The open area can also show that it is a place of action, where we carry out a sacred work as a community.
The central altar is for offering sacrifice. It is a place of action. The tabernacle, where the Real Presence of Christ is reserved, is in a chapel. The continued Presence of Christ, living body and soul in our midst, draws us to Him for meditation, for personal private prayer and visits at times other than Mass. The chapel reflects and invites you to visit, meditate, pray. (The tabernacle design speaks of the Precious Blood. The Greek letters “X” and to which is attached the “P” are the first two letters for “Christ” in Greek. An open wound is shown from which a drop falls into the chalice.)
On June 18, 1967, at 9:30am, the Most Reverend Edward A. McCarthy, Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, consecrated the altar.
Dedication was on July 2, 1967
Archbishop Karl J. Alter of Cincinnati blessed the new Precious Blood Church on Sunday, July 2, 1967, with a sung Low Mass at 3:00pm. A number of area priests were present for the dedication including Monsignor Clarence Leibold, pastor of Holy Trinity parish, Coldwater and Dean of the St. Marys Deanery.
The new church will serve 125 families of the parish. It’s estimated cost was $300,000, which included furniture and fixtures.
A dedication dinner was catered in since we did not have the facilities to accommodate a crowd of its size. We had to bring in tables and chairs because we did not have our own at this time. The Precious Blood theme was carried out with red flowers, red wine and strawberry pie. The young ladies of our parish, the graduates of 1967 and the 10th and 11th grades were the girls who helped the caterer serve the dinner. The caterer furnished white tablecloths, china, silverware and candelabra.
On Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23, 1967, a homecoming and picnic was held to give everyone the opportunity to see the new church. It was the first homecoming and picnic to be held in the village of Chickasaw in nearly 20 years. And it was a tremendous success. It was estimated that the overall attendance for the two days was more than 20,000.
A great number of these people viewed the new church and people from at least seven states signed the register book.
There were kiddie rides, games, booths, refreshments and chicken dinners by the Retreat Fryers. All who attended had a good time.
In charge of the homecoming was Paul Huelsman, chairman and Stanley Homan, assistant chairman. Other committee members were Harold Koesters, Art Prenger, Ralph Liette and Rosemary Droesch.
The members of the Marion Catholic Community, given life through the Holy Spirit in Baptism, are called together as a community of faith to praise and worship God our Creator and to proclaim in word and deed the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
As members of the Body of Christ we strive to serve all to provide an atmosphere of hospitality which enables all to respond fully to the life-long challenge "to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
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