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The Diocese of Fort Wayne, 1857-September 1907. Alerding, Herman Joseph, 1845–1924. 
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1857-SEPTEMBER 22-1907


A Book of Historical Reference





"Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost."



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The History of the Church is a record of the mercies of God on the human family. Considered in this light, the view that history is self-glorification is narrow in the extreme, and lacks the Christian instinct referring all things to God. The same holds good, be it the history of the Church in general, or of any portion of it. The purpose always is the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Such is the issue, and not the individual, not the missionary, not the priest; and therefor the Church records should be kept accurately and not withheld from publication. Gratitude prompts us to thank and glorify the Giver on High.

Sublime doctrines replenish the priest's mind, heaven-born aspirations exhilarate his heart, the salvation of others fires his soul with charity; but the example of holy priests, zealous, apostolic laborers in the Lord's vineyard stimulates him to renewed and enduring activity. To study these men, how they lived, labored, suffered and died, will foster within him the heroic spirit of these grand characters. The laity is similarly affected, when they read how the laity, not more than two generations ago, brought exacting sacrifices, underwent severe hardships of travel in heat and cold, for miles and miles, over almost impassable roads, without breaking their fast, to confess, and to receive, and to assist at the Holy Sacrifice, and once more to hear the word of God preached to them. The Catholic of the twentieth century can appreciate the changed conditions only, by learning how the parishes, now prosperous and flourishing, were organized; how the church-buildings developed from the rude frame or log structure to the magnificent edifices of today; what hardships and sufferings, even the little ones had to undergo, to receive a Christian education. And the lives of hundreds of priests and thousands of noble lay-men will more than compensate for the scandalous conduct of a few.

These and similar considerations suggested the usefulness of the present work, and prompted its publication. It is a page: 6[View Page 6] plain statement of facts made on reliable authority. Its defects are glaring, for the reason that hardly in a single instance all the information that was wanted, could be obtained. No effort was made to conceal these defects beneath glowing verbiage and glittering generalities. The priests, the religious and several of the laity of the diocese have made this history possible by freely giving their assistance. Without the assistance of Rev. Wm. C. Miller, who spent nearly one year on it, the history would not have been undertaken. He is deserving the full credit, and the gratitude of all who appreciate what has been accomplished in preserving these records of the diocese. The reader is requested to note the defects whether of commission or omission and communicate the same to us for future use.


This history has been in preparation since December 18, 1905, when the following circular was sent to the priests of the diocese, with the request that the historical data be furnished within six months:

A. The history of your place before it had a church. If the name of the place was changed at any time, give the change or changes. Record the visits of the earliest missionaries to your place or district. When did it become a STATION, that is to say a place without a church, regularly visited? Who were these visiting priests? Where did they reside? Give some interesting particulars of this period. Were there any note-worthy lay-men? What was the number of souls at this time? What was the complexion of the Catholic population as to nationality?
"B. The history of your place when it became a MISSION, that is to say, when it became a place with a church regularly attended. What priests had charge of it during this time? Where did they reside? In each case, if possible, give the year, month and day when they took charge and when they ceased to have charge of the mission. When was the first church built? Describe this church. Who was the priest in charge at the time of the building of the church? What was its cost? How was the money raised? Give interesting particulars of this period. Were there any note-worthy lay-men, with page: 7[View Page 7] reference especially, to the founders of the parish? What was the number of souls at this time?
"C. The history of your parish: 1. The church grounds. How much ground has the church? When was the ground acquired? Was it secured at one time or different times? What was the cost? What priest or priests had charge at the time of these purchases? Where did these priests reside? 2. The church. When was it built? Who was the priest at the time? Describe the church, the style of architecture, the decorations, the furniture, etc. How much did it all cost? How was the money raised? Have improvements been made on the church since its erection? What were they? When were they made? What did they cost? Who was the priest at the time? What is the seating capacity of the church? If the present church is not the first church, then give the history of the former church or churches. 3. The school. When was it built? Who was the pastor at the time? Give the dimensions of the building. Its capacity for school purposes. How much did it cost? How was the money raised? Have improvements been made since? What were they? When were they made? At what cost? Who was the pastor? 4. The teachers. Who teaches the school? Are the teachers male or female? Are they lay or religious? If religious, of what community? How many teachers? What grades are taught? Is there a high school or academy? How is the school supported? What is the attendance at school? Where do the teachers reside? If in a house specially for them, when was this house built? What did it cost? Who was pastor? What improvements since? When made? At what cost? Under what pastor? 5. The priest's house. When was it built? Who was the priest in charge? What was the cost? Have improvements been made since? Is the present house the first? If not then give the facts, dates, etc., concerning the former house or houses. 6. If your church property has still other church buildings, mention them, giving full information concerning the time of their erection, their cost, their purpose, their improvements, etc., as suggested by the above questions. 7. Give an account of the cemetery, its area, its cost, and other facts. 8. What is the estimated value of your entire church property? What is the amount of debt on the same? page: 8[View Page 8] 9. Name the various societies in your parish. Give the dates of their organization, their membership, their purpose, the good accomplished, and so forth. 10. What is the number of families and the number of souls in your charge? 11. Mention any remarkable or extraordinary events in the history of your parish. 12. How many boys of your parish have become priests or have entered religious communities? How many girls have become sisters? 13. What lay-men have done your parish note-worthy services? What were these services?
"D. Missions and Stations. If you have charge of any Missions or Stations in addition to the church of which you are the resident pastor, then give information concerning each of them, such as is suggested by the foregoing questions.
"E. The priests. Give a complete list of the priests who served the Catholic people of your place or of your district in the early missionary days, and of priests who visited your place when it was a station, and of priests who attended the same when it became a mission, and of the priests who became the resident pastors. Give the dates on which their labors began and ended. It would be an act deserving special commendation, if a brief biographical sketch of each of these priests were given. If your parish has or has had assistant priests the names, dates, and brief biography of them is wanted.
"F. Above all, give your own biography."

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