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Clerical bead roll of the Diocese of Alton, Ill. online

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venture estimates of the truly good
and great but these estimates are
personal and inadequate. Righteous
living has many attainable degrees to
which all are invited and to which all
are welcome. Thus it follows that
we find around us so many good peo-
ple in every calling no matter how
sublime or how humble, living right-
eously, striving to make themselves
more perfect and to make the beauti-
ful, world even more beautiful Thrice
blessed is that country whose people
live righteously, for in it we find
peace, liberty and security. The
righteous die, but their deeds are
more enduring than time itself. Ever
increasing, ever expanding and always
advancing, righteous living blesses
every human being, and the best
civilization that ever existed or will
exist is its fruitage.

"Just what degree of excellency
Father McGuire reached in righteous-
ness, I do not know, but it is certain
that his was a most beautiful charac-
ter admired and beloved by everybody.
For more than a quarter of a century
he labored in the Alton diocese, caring
little for himself, but intensily inter-
ested in the welfare of others. His
kind cheering greetings his generous
deeds and exemplary life weje steps
that lead to the throne of his Divine
Master. God knows the worth of a
righteous life and I do hope and pray
that Father McGuire now wears the
crown of eternal life." R. I. P.

Page Ninety-Three


"Hush! for the ages call

The Love of God lives through eternity
And conquers all!"

He was an ex-religious who had
spent the greater part of his priestly
life in the Chinese missions. He came
to the diocese in 1899, and was as-
signed to Bloomfield with St. Joseph's
on Columbus road and St. Edward's
of Mendon, as out-missions. Shortly

after he changed his habitat from
Blooomfield to St. Joseph's, erecting
there a neat and comfortable resi-
dence. Serious sickness overtook him
in the summer of 1906; he entered St.
Elizabeth's Hospital, Chicago, where
he died in the fall of that year. R.
I. P.


"... and the fire had died away".

When Rev. Damian Juncker, of
Dayton, Ohio, was chosen by the
Holy See first Bishop of the new dio-
cese of Alton, in 1857, he selected the
Rev. John Joseph Menge, a priest of
Cincinnati, to act as first Cathedral
rector and chancellor of the diocese.
The latter accompanied the former
on his advent to Alton. Father Menge
filled the office of pastor and chancel-
lor till October 2, 1862, with great
credit and ability. Whilst thus em-
ployed he still found time to look
after the spiritual needs of the Ger-
man Catholics in and around Alton,
who then numbered some twenty-five
families. He organized them into a
parish, started a Ladies' Altar Society
and said Holy Mass for them on Sun-

days in a small rented house. These
few families formed the nucleus of the
present strong St. Mary's congrega-
tion of Alton. Their first resident
pastor was Father Ostrop in 1858.
Father Menge was recalled by his
Ordinary in October, 1862, back to
Cincinnati to 'become pastor of St.
Francis de Sales parish of that city
whilst the office of chancellor was
conferred upon Rev. John Janssen,
who subsequently became the first
Bishop of Belleville, and Rev. T. F.
Mangan was made rector of the

Rev. John Joseph Menge was born
at Osnabrueck, Hanover, July 12,
1829, ordained to the priesthood Octo-
ber 18, 1854, and died in the early
seventies in Cincinnati. R. I. P.


"Et dixit ad eum ;
Ingredere in requiem meam".

When on February 1, 1866, the
priests of St. John's church of Spring-
field had discontinued to attend the
parish at New Berlin, it received its
first resident pastor in the person of
Rev. Gustavus Meittinger. He stayed

at New Berlin until July 18, 1867,
when he was relieved of his charge
by Rev. Francis Schreiber. Little is
known of this priest beyond the fact
that he died as pastor of St. Ann's
parish at Holstein, Calumet county,
Wisconsin, in 1867. R. I. P.

Page Ninety-Four


"While I live a wretched beggar,
One bright hope my lot can cheer;
Soon, soon thou shalt have thy kingdom,
Brighter hours are drawing near".

Far removed from his colleagues
and friends and parishioners, sepa-
rated by world-wide distance from the
scenes of his eminently successful
priestly endeavors and enterprises,
Rev. Frederick Metzger, one of God's

noblemen, respected and beloved by
all, was suddenly summoned by death
in far away Bavaria, on Friday, Oct.
25, 1895. It was but few weeks prior
to this that decedent had been ap-
pointed pastor of St. Anthony's parish
of Effingham, and dean of that dean-
ery. Before assuming vigorous hold
of the reins of that parish, he was
advised by medical authority and in-
sistent friends, to first go in quest of
health and strength in order to quali-
fy himself for the impending onerous
duties and responsibilities which
awaited him in the newly appointed
charge of Effingham. With the
Bishop's approval -and endorsement
and the many well-wishes for a bon
voyage, he sailed for his native land,
Bavaria, among attractive home en-
vironments to fully recuperate

from a general collapse occasioned
by many years of unremitting, stren-
uous work and worry. This, in time,
had brought on chronic heart trouble.
In the meridian of life he became a
premature victim of his calling.
There are no words too extravagant
or too effusive to be said in behalf
of Father Metzger, as hosts of friends
and admirers, both Catholic and Prot-
estant, will testify to. When the
cable then flashed the news of his
untoward demise, genuine heartfelt
sorrow became universal in places
which had known him. Expressions
of sincerest sympathy were but poor
symbols of expressions when a man
of Father Metzger's mold was the
themie, a gentleman and priest of
flawless type and character. Death
overtook him when visiting at the
house of a clerical friend, some twenty
miles distant from his own home.

The Pike County Democrat in its
edition of Wednesday, Oct. 30, 1895,
said of the departed:

"Dean Metzger while rigid in his
church views and strict in the faith-
ful performance of all duties that
pertained to his priestly office, yet so
lived and moved among his fellow-
citizens as to command their esteem
and respect and caused them' to re-
gret his removal from their midst.
By the very large body of parish-
ioners over whom he was set as their
spiritual guide and counsellor he will
ever be remembered as one well
worthy of their warmest feelings of
affection and his memory be long
cherished in their hearts."

Rev. Frederick Metzger was born at
Waldmohn, Rheinpfalz, Bavaria, Sept.
22, 1843. From early boyhood days
he longed to dedicate himself to God's
service, to become a priest and work
for the spiritual good of man-kind.
Since, however, young Metzger dis-
played great aptitude for mechanical
skill his parents placed him at an
early date in a cabinet factory, where
at the age of sixteen he had already
advanced to the position of foreman.
He couldn't be idle. To make, build

Page Ninety-Five

or construct something was his de-
light; this trait accompanied him into
the priesthood. The profession which
his parents seemed to have chosen
for himi did not satisfy our subject's
yearning, he aspired to become one
of God's anointed. To attain this end
he set out for America. At the St.
Francis Seminary, near Milwaukee,
the future Dean of Effingham com-
pleted his classical course and like-
wise took up the study of Philosophy
and Theology. His fondest desire,
nurtured since childhood days, be-
came satisfied when on Dec. 23, 1872,
Bishop Baltes raised him to the

At Mishawaka, Ind., the young neo-
presbyter celebrated his first holy
Mass two days later, namely, on
Christmas morning, 1872. Now he
was ready for work, however ardu-
ous it might be. Accordingly the
Bishop appointed him; to Kaskaskia
in "Egypt," one of the oldest Catho-
lic settlements in the entire Mississip-
pi valley. Here he remained eight
years doing such noble service that
even today yet his name need only be
mentioned and it awakens grateful
and loving sentiments in the hearts of
the KasLaskians.

On Dec. 9, 1880, Father Metzger
was transferred to Pittsfield. Fifteen
years of strenuous work and worry
broke down his former robust con-
stitution and caused chronic heart
trouble. He was sent abroad, travel-
led from place to place, consulted the
famous Father Kneipp at Woerish-
ofen, rested among the peaceful sur-
roundings of his home, and early boy-
hood scenes, received the most kind
and tender care of his nearest rela-
tives and yet all this proved ulti-
mately of little or no avail. At the
home of a clerical friend at Reifen-
berg, where he happened to be a
chance visitor, Father Metzger
breathed forth his spirit in peace on
Oct. 25, 1895.

Before leaving in quest of strength

and health we know that our de-
cedent had been appointed to the
parish of Effingham. On leaving
Pittsfield for his new mission field,
everyone Catholic and Protestant
alike, seemed to have sustained a
great personal loss, they all revered
and loved him tenderly.

Besides the pastoral and parochial
work which our subject discharged
with conscientious exactitude, he
opened up in the fall of 1882 a paro-
chial school which he maintained for
more than six years, when finally
owing to a lack of children he was
obliged to discontinue same. His
hospitality knew no limits. At times
he invited poor seminarians to come
and spend their summer vacations
with him at Pittsfield; his doors were
always wide open to receive friends
and callers, and many there were who
journeyed thither in order to enjoy
his magnanimous and liberal hospital-

I said that Father Metzger had
great aptitude and talent for mechan-
ical work. How true that is he
showed in the building and construct-
ing of church .pipe organs. It is
justly astounding and wonderful how
he excelled in this amateur occupa-
tion installing a fine pipe organ which
is still in use at Kaskaskia, his first
mission; another pipe organ he in-
stalled in his own church at Pittsfield,
and yet another one he constructed
for the St. Francis College chapel of
Quincy. Mt. Sterling and Springfield
churches likewise proclaim the merits
of Father Metzger's fine pipe organs.
And withal he was humility personi-

Thus did this splendid worker of
the Alton clergy lead an active, edify-
ing, priestly life. By word and ex-
ample he scattered the seeds of his
holy calling promiscuously about;
how much good they effected is
known to God alone. May the
crown of eternal glory be his reward.

Page Ninety-Six


Rev. G. Mirbach, the "grand old
man" and second pastor of St.
Mary's, was a splendid type of man,

strong, high-minded and of noble pur-
poses, a man of tact and refinement,
of erudition and learning. In ap-
pearance he was of rather striking
personality, patriarchal and venerable
looking, earnest and severe of mien
and countenance which but seldom
was lit up by hearty laugh or mirth-
ful smile. Long gray whiskers added
to his impressive and somber bearing.
And yet, withal, he was a man of
tender sympathies and magnanimous
disposition, kind and generous to a
fault. His highest ambitions culmin-
ated in promoting the interests of St.
Mary's, spiritual and material. Hence
it is, in a marvelous degree all clung
to him in good and evil days seeking
advice and counsel, strength and com-
fort with a confidence and assurance
that eloquently proclaimed the har-
monious and intimate bond and union
between pastor and people as it ex-
ists between father and children. And
today no name stands forth in such
vivid relief before the people of St.
Mary's and no former pastor's mem-
ory commands such universal love
and grateful veneration after almost d
quarter century than Father Mirbach
does. And well he deserved the peo-

ples homage and confidence, for he
was surely a worthy and exemplary
priest of God and a great benefactor
of man.

Having come to America at the age
of 32 years, at a time of life when the
acquisition of a foreign language is
by no means as easy a task as it is
in earlier years, and owing to the
fact, moreover, that the various
charges over which he presided were
almost exclusively all German it is
easy to explain why Fr. Mirbach
greatly lacked in the use and know-
ledge of the English language. Hence
his official communications and cor-
respondences with the Diocesan Chan-
cery and even with the Bishop were
mostly carried on in German. On
the other hand, however, we find him
to be a tine Latin scholar; in that
language he excelled, he wrote and
he composed in it with remarkable
facility, ease and fluency, of which
some still extant manuscripts bear
ample testimony. As an example of
his choice latinity I may allude to the
beautiful address which he as the
Senior of the Quincy clergy was
asked to draft on the accession of our
present Bishop to the See of Alton.
For many years Rev. Mirbach suf-
fered from acute rheumatism, he be-
came practically an invalid and was
necessitated to accept aid from the
Franciscan Monastery and College on
Sundays and Holy days for a number
of years until in November, 1893, the
Bishop sent a young assistant priest
to St. Mary's. It was the newly or-
dained Rev. John Wand. Already in
1880 Fr. Mirbach had sought relief
from this painful malady by under-
taking a trip to Europe, there to make
use of the world-renowned Sulphur
Springs of Germany; again in 1886
he was most urgently induced by his
Bishop, Rt. Rev. P. J. Baltes, to try
a several week's course of mineral
baths at Hot Springs, Ark., which the
Bishop described to him as the best
baths known anywhere in the world
for their wonderful curative qualities.
Again we find our rheumatic sufferer

Page Ninety-Seven

a patient at the Sisters' Sanitarium
in Milwaukee. All these trials brought
only temporary relief but effected no

Of all the tests, trials and afflictions
which good Father Mirbach had to
undergo during the 21 years of his
pastoral life at St. Mary's, none was
so acute and severe, however, as was
the mental strain endured on the
night of February the 2nd, 1891, when
proud, noble, beautiful St. Mary's fell
prey to fire and flame and was reduced
in a short time to a smouldering heap
of ruins. Poor man how we pitied him
when this sad story of St. Mary's mis-
fortune was made known next day by
the papers. The strong minded pas-
tor, however, soon rose to the occa-
sion, and like a phoenix from the
ashes, thus did stricken St. Mary's
under the undaunted leadership of
Father Mirbach arise to vigorous new
life and activity, and soon a beautiful
structure arose, more handsome and
more queenly than the former one
had been.

Rev. Gerard Mirbach was born
September 8th, 1832, at Gerderhahn,
near Aachen; he finished his higher
classical studies in 1856 at Neus and

then for three years went to the Uni-
versity of Bonn to prepare himself by
the study of philosophy and theology
for his chosen vocation, the priest-
hood. On September the 3rd, 1860, he
was ordained by the Auxiliary Bishop
of Cologne, Msgr. Baudri, and in
October of that year sent as Vicar to
Raeren, where he stayed 'till he emi-
grated to America, May 8, 1869. Ar-
rived at Alton, where he presented
himself to Bishop Baltes, he was at
once assigned to the parish of Fayette-
ville, 111. In 1874 Rev. Theodore Brue-
ner, then pastor of our St. Mary's
parish, accepted the position as Rector
of the Pio Nono College, a normal
school for the training of Catholic
teachers and organists, situated at St.
Francis, Wis., near Milwaukee. St.
Mary's therefore, became vacant. The
right man for the position was found
when the Bishop's choice fell on
Father Mirbach. For and with St.
Mary's people he worked with singu-
lar devotion for 21 years, from 1874-
1895, when on April the 2nd, 1895, he
was summoned by the Master whom
he had served so faithfully and so
well throughout the years of his ex-
emplary life to receive the promised
reward. May he rest in peace!


"Then I heard a strain of music
So mighty, so pure and so clear".

In the latter part of the sixties, a
member of the Order of the Conven-
tual Franciscans, a native of Selesia,
came to the diocese and was given
charge of the parish of Carrollton.
He had been for some time an English
Confessor at St. Peter's, Rome.
From Carrollton Father Leopold was
assigned to St. Mary's of Litchfield,
where he remained about four years.
This was in 1869. The diocese of
Chicago holding out probably better
prospects to our secularized Fran-
ciscan Father, he moved to that city

in 1873, where on April 15, 1892, he

When Father Leopold cam, e to
Litchfield he lost no time in opening
a school. On one side of the old rec-
tory he put up school rooms, on the
other he built spacious apartments
for a convent and academy for the
use of the Ursuline Sisters coming
from the Motherhouse of Alton. His
zeal and successful labors, which he
displayed in Litchfield, are still vivid-
ly remembered and often spoken of
by the older members of the parish.
R. I. P.

Page Ninety-Eight


"The shadows grew longer and longer
The evening wind passed by;
And the purple splendor of sunset
Was flooding the western sky".

Thirty-five years pastor of one and
the same parish is a record seldom at-
tained and hardly ever surpassed by
any priest. Looking over the list of
departed mem'bers of our diocesan
clergy we find but very few instances
Where priests assigned to pastoral
work in congregations have uninter-
ruptedly retained their charges for

such length of time. True, we met
with some who not only equalled but
even out-distanced this record, but
they prove to have been rare excep-
tions. Various reasons may be ad-
duced why pastors are more or less
shifted about, be it from a rural to a.
city parish or vice versa. Conditions,
environments, personal traits and
characteristics, constructive parochial
work and many other factors may en-
ter into the consideration of appoint-
ments, changes or removals from one
place to another; it is left to and de-
termined by the Bishop's wise discre-

tion and stern authority. The one
who with few exceptions seemed to
be immune from experimental tests
and changes was our suave and amia-
ble Father John F Mohr, of New Ber-
lin, 111.

Possessed of personal charm and
magnetism combined with child-like
disposition whom no one who ever
met the kind-hearted and generous
minded man could withstand, he
counted his friends and loyal adhe-
rents by hundreds. Wherever he went
Father Mohr made conquests winning
over to him new friends and admirers.
"Papa Mohr" his clerical friends were
pleased to call him, to which appel-
lation he offered no serious objection.
No one was a more welcome visitor
to the home of friends or parishion-
ers than he. A humorous vein was
his. Commanding an inexhaustible
fund of anecdotes and catchy little
stories which, by the way, he was at
times guilty of repetition a circle of
expectant listeners would gather
around .him to enjoy the good man's
company and liberally applaud his in-
nocent sayings. He loved the plain
people. How much sunshine did he
cast into gloomy corners thereby dis-
pelling depression, \yorry and anxiety
from so many minds and hearts.

A model of a worthy, pious and
zealous priest was he, admired and
worshipped by his time-honored con-
freres and subjects for his spotless
priestly life and gentlemanly bearing
always trying to be all unto all
omne omni. Punctuality and scrupu-
lous exactitude in the performance of
parochial ministrations, at the altar
or the recitation of divine office, in
the confessional or on sick calls char-
acterized his beautiful life. In out-
ward personal appearance Fr. Mohr
was a pattern of neatness, which is
not to say, however, that he was a
stylish dresser; far from it, for our
good man would make a collar, shirt
or suit last just as long as decency
and propriety would permit. He loved
out-door exercise, to roam in the
woods or with fishing-pole sit for

Page Ninety-Nine

hours on the banks of creek or pond
and watch the cork usually without

To make private home life interest-
ing every man must have a hobby.
Father Mohr had his. And what was
it? Collecting and sacredly storing
away old newspapers and magazines,
ordos and breviaries, scrap-books and
tickets, etc., for if anything he was a
man of great economic, conservative
habits, a survivor of the old school,
clinging to customs and traditions.
An accumulation of odds and ends
was found among his modest in-
ventory, a great deal of which served
as fuel for a bon-fire by an injudicious
temporary and hasty substitute.

Rev. John Francis Mohr, a dean of
the Springfield deanery, was born at
Minster, Ohio, on February 2, 1839,
At the age of 23 years he was raised
to the priesthood in the Alton Cathe-
dral by the first Bishop of the dio-
cese, Rt. Rev. Damian Juncker, D. D.
After filling minor charges, Father
Mohr was appointed in 1870, pastor
of the Cathedral parish. He acted
successfully as such for nearly three
years, when the Bishop saw fit to
place him at the head of that ill-
starred Diocesan College of Ruma,
111. now the convent-home of the

"Sisters of the Precious Blood." After
the short incumbency at Ruma he
was assigned to St. Mary's church of
New Berlin, 111., in January, 1873.
His death occured at the St. John's
Hospital, Springfield, on Holy Thurs-
day, April 16, 1908. La Grippe, super-
induced by paralysis carried him off.
The solemn obsequies were had the
following Tuesday. The Rt. Rev. Or-
dinary of the diocese together with
64 members of the clergy were there
to pay their last tribute of love and
respect to him whose memory will
continue to live enshrined in the
hearts of all who knew him. On this
funeral occasion the Solemn Requiem
was said by the Rt. Rev. Bishop
James Ryan, D. D., assisted by Rev.
P. Anselm Mueller, O. F. M., the then
venerable and popular rector of St.
Francis College of Quincy, as deacon
and Dean Michael Weis, of Quincy,
as sub-deacon, whilst Revs. Francis
Zabell, D. D., of Bunker Hill and
Ferdinand Stick of Highland, acted as
assistants to the celebrant. Very Rev.
Timothy Hickey, V. G., of St. Mary's
Springfield, delivered a pathetic
funeral oration on the life and labors
of our departed one, whose body was
bedded in the little parish cemetery
of New Berlin, 111. R. I. P.


Cold is the hearth when the last spark dies,
And empty and lone are the western skies
When the red sun sinks in. his cloudy bed;
And cold are our hearts, for the priest is

In the cemetery of quiet and peace-
ful Brussels in Calhoun county, we
come upon a small weather-beaten
headstone which 'bears the inscrip-
tion: "Sacred to the Memory of Rev.
John Molitor." He who sleeps be-
neath the grassy plot and whose
name is recalled by the humble mon-
ument was the first resident priest of
that parish. A fellow-student of the
late Bishop Baltes, he was raised to

the priesthood together with him at
the Grand Seminary of Montreal on
May 21, 1853. He was at once ap-
pointed to the St. Mary's congrega-
tion of Brussels. Father Molitor was
a native of Belgium and in memory
of him the village was named Brus-
sels. His time of labor, however, was
very short, for after some three
months it was already rudely inter-
rupted by death. He died at a lone
farm house after a very brief illness.
R. I. P.

Page One Hundred


There's no place like "Home".
Forty years pastor of one and the
same parish is indeed a remarkable
occurrance and seldom equalled in
this Diocese. Such extraordinary rec-
ord stands to the credit of Reverened
John Moliter, late pastor of Sewton
ord stands to the credit of Father
and Dean of the Effingham Deanery
Quiet and unostentatious in the
daily discharge of his duties, during
all these years he earned the respect
and well-wishes of all, both of the
clergy and laity. The high regard
with which his Ordinary looked upon
his systematic and fruitful labors
caused his appointment as District
Dean and well did Father Miolitor
merit such distinction from above.
Everyone heartily seconded the un-

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Online LibraryAnthony ZurbonsenClerical bead roll of the Diocese of Alton, Ill. → online text (page 12 of 19)