2009-09-30 / Faith

St. Joseph Catholic Church celebrates its beginnings

Comet staff report

St. Joseph Catholic Church St. Joseph Catholic Church St. Joseph’s Parish of Delphi celebrated its 150th anniversary Sept. 27 with a Church Blessing by Bishop William Higi.

St. Joseph Catholic Church was at capacity with 240 people in attendance at both services. The Blessing was followed by a dinner and reception at the Wabash & Erie Canal Center in Delphi. The was catered by the current confirmation class. In attendance were Father Peter Vanderkolk, Father David Buckles, Father Richard Puetz, Father Ambrose Zigler and Bishop Higi, as well as many former religious Sisters. Father Kettron was unable to attend.

Delphi became the county seat in 1831 and missionary priests traveled along the Wabash & Erie Canal to visit families and hold services in their homes.

The parish can trace its beginnings back to 1854. In the early years of Christianity in Indiana, there were parishes established in areas of large Catholic populations. In the areas of lesser Catholic populations, a bishop would have priests from other parishes travel to these missions to serve the people on the Lord’s Day. Rev. Michael Clark of Lafayette made visits to Delphi, which at this time was merely a station. Other neighboring priests also assisted the station.

In 1857, the Bishop of Vincennes established Delphi as a mission and appointed Rev. Nieber to care for the 150 members of Irish, German and French descent.

In 1859 Delphi was placed under the jurisdiction of the newly formed diocese of Fort Wayne with Bishop John N. Luers establishing Delphi as a parish. Rev. John Vahey was assigned as the first pastor. The first, out of 26 permanent resident priests of the parish, was Rev. August B. Oechtering.

In October 1887, St. Joseph purchased the ground for its cemetery. The school was served by the Sisters of Providence from 1876 to 1901 and then by the Sisters of St. Joseph from 1901 to 1970. The Catholic school closed in 1970. Religious education classes are currently being offered on Sunday to teach the youth Christian Doctrine.

Father Peter Vanderkolk currently serves as the parish’s priest.

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