St. Sebastian Church History
In the year 1850, twenty German Catholic families occupied the greater part of the territory now know as the precincts of St. Sebastian Parish. They made their way through dense woods to attend Mass at St. Rose and St. John, five miles distance for many of them.
In the year 1851, these families began to feel the need for a church and school in their midst. The families sought permission from Bishop John Purcell to build a church. Today the location of the first church would be in the middle of the St. Sebastian cemetery. The families prepared the wood for the church—some cut the timber, others hauled it to the sawmill and others prepared lumber for the foundation. Carpenter work was contracted by a man named Coratus.
In the late spring of 1852, on the morning of the cornerstone laying, the people began to talk about who their patron Saint would be. At this point Sebastian Schraner, the oldest member of the parish, took a small statue of St. Sebastian out of his pocket and held it up in the air for all to see. Having scarcely beheld it, they all exclaimed with one accord, “St. Sebastian shall be our Patron Saint!” Thus the church was called St. Sebastian Church, and after eight or nine months of labor, was near completion. It was dedicated January 20, 1853, the feast day of St. Sebastian.
Father John Von den Brook, then Pastor of St. John’s Parish in Maria Stein and Father Andrew Kunkler of St. Rose Parish took turns coming on Sundays to say Mass. In 1854 a free school was built near the Church, affording the children an opportunity for formal education. The first teacher was Mr. Capritz. In 1857, the Congregation was fortunate to have a regularly appointed pastor, Father Peter Willhelmi.
In 1864, the people of St. Sebastian had two Masses, a low and a high Mass, said each Sunday and Mass twice during the week. By 1878, a new church was needed as the parish had outgrown the old frame church. Anton De Curtins from neighboring Carthagena, was employed to build the new church according to the plans he had drawn up. The congregation furnished the lumber and the expense was $4,800.
In 1894, the Church was enlarged and Anton De Curtins again did the plans and the work. The improvements were done at a cost of $4,400 and were finished in April 1895. In January 1903, as the parish was preparing to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, the Church was totally destroyed by fire. Not even the Blessed Sacrament could be rescued from the flames.
In early July, work was begun on the present St. Sebastian Church. This time De Curtins Brothers of Lima drew the plans and did the work. It was finished early in September 1904 at a cost of $16,510. A few weeks later Auxiliary Bishop Henry Moeller solemnly consecrated it. The choir of St. Charles Seminary rendered the singing for the dedication and Pontifical High Mass.
In 1905 a parish rectory was built for the sum of $4,200. In 1908 a pipe organ was installed for $2,500. Andrew Carnegie of Pittsburgh donated $1,000 of this sum. Electric lights were installed in 1917. In 1944, the Cemetery board was formed. In 1958 the Sebastian public school was closed and the property was sold at auction. In 1959 under the leadership of Fr. George Grevenkamp, C.PP.S., Walter Colen of New Albany, Indiana painted the interior of the church for a cost of $4,000. During the years that Fr. Aloys Friedrich, C.PP.S. was pastor, a new altar was installed facing the people. In 1991, St. Sebastian and Precious Blood of Chickasaw were combined under one priest, Fr. John Bensman. He lived at Precious Blood rectory in Chickasaw. Therefore, St. Sebastian’s rectory was turned into a CCD center where the children were given their religion instructions. In 1998, the Eucharistic Devotion was started on Thursday mornings after mass until 7:00PM.
In June of 2000, the Parish Council appointed a renovation committee to come up with a plan to renovate the church. At the first meeting in July 2000, it was decided to set a goal of a $5000 pledge per family payable over 5 years. By March 2001 enough money was donated so Ohio & Indiana Roofing, Cranberry, OH could replace the roof and paint all the outside windows and trim at a cost of $71,000.
In July 2002, Brian Bros. Restoration, Piqua, OH cleaned the outside stone and brick. They also did spot tuck-pointing for a cost of $31,232. After a town hall meeting in November 2002 council voted to repair the bad spots in the plaster and paint. In February 2003 Nealeigh Plastering and Ruble Painting, both of Greenville, OH did the repairs for a cost of $15,854.91.
In July 2004, Fr. John Bensman retired and Fr. Ken Schroeder, C.PP.S. became our pastor. Also at this time St. Sebastian became part of the Five Parish Marion Catholic Community Cluster. Fr. Harry Cavanaugh, C.PP.S. became our Associate Pastor.
In September 2005 parish members wanted the renovation completed. The renovation committee met and asked that letters be sent out asking that pledges be completed. A decorating committee was formed and in January 2006 council voted to have Ruble Painting complete the renovation.
On February 12, 2006 after the 8:00am Mass, pews and anything moveable was removed from the church. The next day, Ruble Painting started on the project. During this time parish members painted small altars, kneelers, statues, stands for statues, bases for the Way of the Cross, etc. The German writing was uncovered and restored on these bases. A skylight above the altar was uncovered and a light was installed to add more beauty to the church. Some members were busy building a new hymn board, boxes for the bulletins, shelves, crosses for the back of the church, tables, bulletin boards and a Processional Cross. A chime that was donated in 1912 was restored and hung in back of the church. The talent, workmanship, and pride in their Church was once again shown by the parishioners of St. Sebastian.
On April 6, 2006 Ruble Painting completed the interior painting along with the painting of the altars for a total cost of $51,716. With a lot of help from most of the parish members, the carpet was cleaned, woodwork cleaned and all things that were removed put back in place. Chairs were reupholstered and new confessional curtains were hung. All the brass candles, etc. were cleaned and/or painted with gold paint.
April 16, 2006 on Easter Sunday the first Mass was celebrated in the renovated church. It was a joyous happy Easter Sunday for St. Sebastian. On May 3rd a Rededication Mass and May Crowing was celebrated.
In April of 2007, thru an anonymous donation, the tabernacle door was regilded.
During May of 2007 with a generous donation of $36,000.00 from the Ernest and Regina Schwieterman family, St. Sebastian Parish was able to replace most of the steps and sidewalks. This work was done by Klosterman Concrete Construction. Also a circle driveway was put in the cemetery by Paul Bruns Construction.
The Parish also had an anonymous donation to pay for the railing on the east sacristy steps. With the help of parish members the existing railings were repainted and installed.
SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE PARISH IN GOD’S SERVICE
Sr. Remberta (Otillia) Will
Sr. Scholastica (Julia) Will
Sr. Juliana Schaeffer
Sr. Lucille Schmitmeyer
Fr. Edgar Jutte
Fr. Ronald Will
Sr. Patricia Ann Froning
Sr. Cecilla (Lillian) Huber
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