the help and support of about 25 of the new parish families and
the leadership of Father Duggan, Our Lady of Providence Parish was
founded in 1954. Father Duggan celebrated the first Sunday Mass
at 9:00 am on Mother’s Day, May 9, 1954, and eleven people
attended, including the Saal, Thomas and Goodwin families.
For most of the first year, Masses were held in an old four-room
farm house located on the property until the church and rectory
buildings were completed. Father Duggan conducted the parish business
from the main office of Resurrection Cemetery along with the parish
housekeeper, Mrs. Mary Bernzen.
The first organizational meeting of OLP was May 12, sponsored by
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Mizerany, and 82 parishioners attended. At that
time 139 families lived in the OLP parish boundaries. On July 18,
1954 a Get Acquainted BBQ was held to raise funds for plumbing and
fixtures needed at the old farm house which served as church and
rectory. Vince and Rose Pahlmann’s home was used to facilitate
the OLP parish ladies/first card party on August 1, 1954. The success
of this fundraiser led Marge Huber, Chairperson of the Ladies' Club,
to sponsor another larger, more successful card party on October
22 at Epiphany Parish Hall.
August 28, 1954 a delegation of 30 parishioners traveled with Fr.
Duggan to St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana to request
the Sisters of Providence to assume the responsibility of educating
the OLP parish children. As a result Mother Gertrude Clare assigned
four Sisters to OLP. Sister Charles Ellen, the Sister Superior,
along with Sister Marie Cecile, Sister Rosalita and Sister Thomas
Ann were the first Sisters of Providence to serve in the Archdiocese
of St. Louis. Because OLP parish had so many children between the
ages of four and five, a kindergarten teacher was also acquired.
During these summer months the choir met on Saturday afternoons,
prospective servers met at the rectory for Latin lessons, and ladies
got together on Monday evenings to work on the first Christmas Bazaar.
In October a parish meeting was held at Annunciation Parish Hall
to plan for the fundraising and construction of the parish facilities.
Mr. Kloster, one of seven contractors who had bid the project, was
awarded the contract to construct a combination church and school
building, which included the chapel, cafeteria, convent and eight
classrooms on December 17, 1954. The architect was Maurice Carroll.
A ground breaking ceremony was held on December 26, 1954.
year 1954 marked other firsts at OLP. The first person to be baptized
at OLP was John Mitchell, Jr., son of John and Joyce Mitchell. The
first marriage at OLP took place on June 4, 1954 joining Otto Hielman
and Frances Blaha. On June 15, the Providence Club was formed, lead
by Harry S. Ewers, Chairman, and Herman Thompson, Treasurer. The
first parish bulletin was published on September 19, stencils prepared
by Mrs. Hermine Kelemen. On October 1, the First Friday Club was
organized at OLP by Edward Halloran, who served as Secretary.
During 1955 development at OLP continued at a brisk pace. In January
the Holy Name Society was formed, lead by Edward Reilly, President,
and Arthur Huber, Vice President, August Matarano, Secretary, Novell
Geoghegan, Recording Secretary, and Edward Halloran, Treasurer.
Also, the Ladies Sodality convened their first meeting with Marge
Huber, President, Helen Iggens, Vice President, Hermine Keleman,
Secretary, Lois Niehof, Recording Secretary, and Mini Crain, Treasurer.
The ladies' Sewing Circle was formed by Mrs. Horstdaniel and Mrs.
of the church and school began January 17, 1955. Father Duggan wanted
special recognition for Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, who permitted all parish
meetings to be held at their home, and for Mrs. Horstdaniel, who
provided the use of her home to the Quilters on Wednesday evenings.
The Laying of the Cornerstone ceremony followed the blessing by
Archbishop Joseph Ritter on April 23, 1955. Later that year the
first Mass in the new chapel took place on August 27, 1955. The
parish school opened on September 6 with an enrollment of 123 students.
Tuition was $20.00 per child for families registered in the parish.
Archbishop Ritter returned on October 30 to dedicate the new church.
In December the old farm house was abandoned and the rectory was
moved to a house on Pinewood. Father Duggan expressed his gratitude
to the members of the Parish Board throughout the organizational
process “for their assiduous efforts for successful parochial
endeavors.” The Board members at the time were Mr. Ewers,
Mr. Thomas, Mr. Kissel, Mr. Pell and Mr. Fisher. The Board’s
mission was “To revivify that spirit of devotedness to all
spiritual, moral, material and social purposes for Our Lady."
By April, 1956 the parish roster had grown from the original 25
families to 338. The first Parish School of Religion (PSR) program
began in September with classes held on Saturday mornings.
April of 1957 outside shrines for the Blessed Virgin and St. Francis
were constructed. Donations from the Ed Rielly and Wilhelm families
made it possible for Joseph Tonkovich to construct the shrines.
Marge Huber and Elizabeth Mizerany carpeted the sanctuary. The Block
Rosary Program was started by Terri Ott. By this time the temporary
convent was being used for classrooms.
In 1958 a pavilion was purchased for $200 from a watermelon stand
on Chippewa and was added to the OLP parish grounds. The parishioners
involved in this project were Fr. Duggan, Jim Dwyer, Paul Didion,
Joe Freidman, Earl Lakebrink, Al Degenhart and Walter Sauer. Clarence
Breummer is recognized for repainting the cafeteria.