A Memorable Founders Day

It was Memorial Day Weekend 2007 and all appeared quiet on the home-front.  From this view inside the historic St. Victoria Catholic Church, one gets a glimpse into the new church where all was not quiet.  The celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of St. Victoria was in full gear.

The 150-year anniversary is, in fact, a year long celebration but this weekend seemed to be a crowning of the founding.  It was Saturday evening, May 26th, 2007, the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend. The special weekend guest was wearing red garb just like Father Bob White, the St. Victoria pastor.

They walked in step, the old and the new.  Father Bob White has been at St. Victoria since July of 1996.  Father Bernardine Hahn, OFM, was here from 1952 to 1954.

It was good to see my old friend Father Bernardine.  Did I say old?  He is only 91.  And, by the way, Father Bob will be 60 years old on August 1st.  What's 30 years here or there?

Father Bernardine remembers well Elizabeth Diethelm and Ray Schmieg, both descendants of the early founding fathers.  Elizabeth and Ray have many stories about the old days at St. Victoria with Father Bernardine.

Frannie Schmieg, mother and grandmother of those kids and grandkids who work at the Victoria House restaurant and other good places, was happy to see Father Bernardine again.

The last time Father Bernadine saw Ray and Frannie Schmeig was in July of 1996 at the going away Mass for Father Elstan Coghill, longtime friend and fellow Franciscan who was retiring after 12 years at St. Victoria.  Not anticipating another earthly encounter, Ray and Fr. Bernardine had said to each other, "See you in heaven."

Red must be their favorite color.

Nan Emmer, how did you get in this picture?  Red must be your favorite color too.

Historic banners decorated the new church for the festive founding memorial weekend.

Other historic artifacts decorated various nooks and crannies of the new church.

Since Franciscan priests took care of the St. Victoria Catholic Parish from 1876 (Benedictines were here at first) until 1996, it was fitting to see an old banner of St. Anthony retrieved from the archives.

The "old" church is on the other side of the arch.  The gathering space is on the right.  If we go out the "exit" doors that you see on the left, we become acquainted with past generations of the founding fathers and mothers of St. Victoria. 

The beautiful St. Victoria Catholic Cemetery is a landmark along Victoria Drive, located only a couple blocks from downtown Victoria.

Many historic names are evident in the St. Victoria cemetery.

Before parishioners went out to the cemetery after the Mass on the morning of Memorial Day Monday, Father Bob White gave a special blessings to those whose roots go back to the original founders of the St. Victoria Catholic Church.  There was hardly anyone left in the pews.

Jerry Schmieg of Victoria, a direct descendant of the earliest Victoria pioneers who wore the name of Diethelm, played Taps for us that Monday morning at St. Victoria.  Jerry is a former member of the Drum and Bugle Corps.

Father Bob White recalled the rich heritage of St. Victoria.

Father Bernadine enjoyed greeting more old friends, including Phabe Wartman.

Vangie Schneider, wife of the late Leo Schneider, is recognized and embraced.

The mother of Rosie Williams (on the left) was born a Diethelm and is therefore a member of the large and renowned family of descendents who founded Victoria and St. Victoria.

Hello to Julie Marie and her father Richard Schmieg.

Sometimes church and state mix just fine.  The U.S. Flag is flown at half mast until 12 noon on Memorial Day in honor of all veterans.

Hello to Tom and Laura Welter, left, and Elaine Notermann (sister of Laura).

Hello to Dee Schrempp (wife of the late Jerry Schrempp), Marge Diethelm (wife of the late Kenny Diethelm), and Dorothy and Clarence Kelzer.

Jerry Schmeig and Sister Rolaine Diethelm are first cousins.  Thank you, Jerry, for playing Taps for us.  Jerry's mother was Theresa Diethelm.  Sister Rolaine's father was the late Ben Diethelm, who was featured often in the earliest issues of the Victoria Gazette.

My husband Allan, who joined the Catholic Church in the same year of our marriage, 1970, is not related to anybody at St. Victoria.

Three brothers -- Jim, Herb, and Jerry Schmieg -- were kind to accommodate the editor.

My good friend Germaine Jesberg, formerly one of the historic Schneiders, fell and broke a hip this year but is recuperating just fine.  Love you, Germaine.  Hello to her oldest son, Steve. 

Jean Bongard has now been teaching the First Communions Class at St. Victoria a record 36 consecutive years.  Thank you, Jean.  Hello and best wishes also to husband Willard.

Hello to Vic and Sis Schneider.  Vic has two brothers who are priests in the same Franciscan order and province as Father Bernardine.  Father Conran Schneider, OFM, lives in nearby Chaska.  Father Fred Schneider lives at Sherman, Illinois.

After lunch at the editor's kitchen counter on that Monday of Memorial Day weekend, Father Bernadine needed to get back to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for a return flight to his home at the friary in St. Louis, Missouri.  That's Julianne Wartman on the left and Mary Moore on the right.

Julianne used to be a Diethelm.  Mary used to be a Wartman and her mother was a Schneider.  Thank you, Allan, for being our pilot on the ground.  Thank you to the anonymous fellow who offered to take a picture that would include our entire little airport entourage.  Thank you, Father Bernardine, for coming to see us.

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