||Fr. Tom Gillespie, pastor, welcomes Bishop Robert C. Morlino, concelebrating priests, Sisters, and guests to the Mass offered to observe the 150th anniversary of Holy Redeemer Parish in Perry on August 9. To view more photos click here. (Photo by Phil Krejci)
PERRY -- As I drove through the rolling hills, passing by neat fields of corn waving gently in the breeze and cows resting in the fields, I could envision the early settlers of the Perry area as they arrived in the 1800s.
Many of them came from Germany to farm in this area reminiscent of their homeland. They wanted to keep their Catholic faith alive, traveling on foot or by ox-team to attend Mass in neighboring Pine Bluff or Cross Plains.
Eventually in 1861, 29 families raised enough money to build their own church. The Post, Goebel, and Keller families who led the construction of the original church are still members of Holy Redeemer Parish in Perry.
The descendents of those families and current parishioners gathered on Sunday, Aug. 7, for a Mass marking the 150th anniversary of the parish with the theme, “Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church.”
Fr. Tom Gillespie, pastor, greeted those present, “On behalf of Holy Redeemer Parish, we welcome all our guests on this special occasion, especially Bishop Morlino who has come to celebrate as pastor of our diocese.” Father Gillespie also welcomed the Sisters present who had served in the parish.
Rite of Rededication
After the welcome, there was a Rite of Rededication of the parish. Leader Edward Sutter prayed, “Almighty God, with the rocks of our lives, your church. With your grace, may we take these stones and construct a foundation of hope and faith through your son, Jesus Christ.”
Parishioners walked up the church aisle carrying stones, which were placed in front of the church to build a small church.
Those carrying the stones included: Georgia Post, the oldest living member of the parish, and her son, Larry; Ken Uebersetzig and Richard Keller, both fourth generation members; John and Joan Parrish, among the newest parish members; Hannah Droesler and Heidi Droster, representing youth; Mary Sutter and Greg Droster, representing the parish Pastoral Council; Larry and Mary Price, in thanksgiving for the vocation of Larry’s sister, Sr. Germaine Price ofthe Daughters of Charity; Judy and Jerry Keller, area farmers and active in the parish; and Judy and Steve Hefty, representing sixth and seventh lineage members of the parish.
In his homily, Bishop Morlino said the parishioners should be joyful. “You’ve got 150 years, a great history of faith to be thankful for today. You still have a wonderful, beautifully set church for all to see.”
The bishop thanked the priests concelebrating, including Frs. Rick Heilman, Henry Kalscheuer, Tom Monaghan, and Michael Radowicz as well as Msgr. James Bartylla, vicar general.
“We give thanks for the past, the wonderful people, and the abiding presence of God in this holy place,” said Bishop Morlino.
He thanked the Sisters “who contributed so much in the past.”
Look to the future
But he also said we need to look to the future. “Who will be here 100 years from now? How can we best provide for that? What about our children and grandchildren? What kind of faith life will they have?”
The bishop noted that St. Paul said, “Let your consciences be joined with the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth.” Bishop Morlino said we “seem to be losing ground” in society today as far as conscience protection.
He noted that tax-payer money will be funnelled for abortions for the first time in history. He expressed concerned about Catholic hospitals being “forced to act against their consciences in providing artificial contraception and abortion.
“We have a 150-year legacy of religious freedom right here in Perry. What about the future? May our joy and thanksgiving push us to the future to preserve our freedom so our conscience may be joined to the Holy Spirit,” said the bishop. “We’ve got to be thinking, active people in the political sphere to do what we need to get to heaven. Nothing else lasts and heaven is forever.”
The Diocesan Choir directed by Dr. Patrick Gorman provided prelude music and sang for the Mass. Cantor was Teresa Judd.