History Of St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church
New Boston, Indiana


St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church was founded in 1859, as a mission church of the Benedictine monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey. Father John Chrysostom Foffa, O.S.B, founded the parish under the name of his patron saint, St. John Chrysostom.

Father John was six feet two inches tall, 224 pounds, and broad shouldered. He was born in 1830 in Switzerland and was ordained a priest in September 1854, at the Abbey in Einsiedeln. After a year of teaching at the school in Einsiedeln, he was sent to St. Meinrad in May 1855.

St. John Chrysostom was born in Antioch, Asia Minor, around 347. He became a convert to the Catholic faith at the age of 22. He was ordained at the age of 32 and later became a bishop and archbishop. His greatest gift was preaching and he became known as the greatest preacher of the Church in the East. He was exiled for telling the wealthy how to share their wealth with the poor. He died at the age of 60, in 407, and his body is entombed in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy.

Father John, then Pastor of St. Boniface Church in Fulda, laid the cornerstone for the church in November 1859. According to the original deed, the land (3 and 17/ 100 acres) was purchased from Andrew Ernst by Maurice De St. Palais, Bishop of Vincennes, on July 25, 1860, for $31.75. The deed was recorded on December 24, 1866.

The church was built by Emile Kaufman and John Desch, and was 28 X 44 feet without the tower, sacristy, and sanctuary. Local trees were used as beams by cutting them in half, and the bark is still on the beams today. The church was blessed on Easter Monday, April 21, 1862 by Father John, Pastor of St. Ferdinand Parish.

Parishioners Gathered in front of Church - 1900 era

Inside of Church 1900

The parish cemetery was located east of the new church. Thefirst burial in the cemetery is listed as infant son of Blaise Schill and Martha Spiegel Schill, May 10, 1862. The first adult burial was on January 26, 1893, "Catherine, age 43, wife of Casper Limbach." The first baptism recorded was June 14, 1862, infant of Charles Ritter and Catherine Krauss Ritter. The first wedding recorded gives the names of the couple as John Epple and Mary Ann Buckley, May 6, 1867, witnessed by the Rev. Fintan Mundweler, O. S.B.
See Cemetery List

Names of the first families of St. John Chrysostom parish included: Carl Ritter, Peter Klueh, Fred Miller, John Kraus, Frank Paulus, George Wells, John Leisner, Anton Baumeister, John Stauber, Martin Hess, Joseph Buckelei, Lawrence Ernst, William Doerier, Blasius Schiel, Joseph Kleiser, Joseph Hensler, Casper Limbach, George Gross. A few prominent pioneers at the Church's founding and also serving as the first parish counselors were: George Ernst, Peter Klueh, Karl Ritter, and George Kraus.

The first rectory, built in 1867, was a log cabin with two rooms downstairs, one a schoolroom for a parochial school and the other a kitchen. Three rooms upstairs provided living quarters for the priest, schoolteacher, and a visitor. The rectory stood just north of the present rectory facing west, and a cistern was dug behind the rectory.

Church in 1921

George Boehm and one of his classes

Full terms were taught in the little one room school for several years and later the parish children attended the nearest public school. A two month vacation school was organized for the children of the parish. There was Catholic lay teachers to assist missionaries. Among the early teachers are the following names: Messrs, Weigand, Jackmeth, and George Boehm. A new rectory was built in 1891, and then the old school rectory was torn down. The new rectory is the two room building now being used for storage, quilting, and office space.

For several years, starting in 1934, the children of the parish benefited from a Catholic vacation school during public school summer break. Each year, two Sisters from the Benedictine Convent at Ferdinand would come to New Boston. For three weeks they not only taught the children religion, but also gave them instructions and prepared them for First Communion and Solemn Communion.

The priests traveled to St. John Chrysostom Church either by buggy or horseback and sometimes "on foot" in all seasons regardless of the weather. Since the priests traveled 10 miles from St. Meinrad, the parish families extended hospitality by inviting them in for meals and rest.

Inside Church 1921

Inside Church 2001

The choir loft/balcony was added to the church in 1891to hold the first organ. George Boehm was organist for the first 25 years. Through the years the music ministry included Mrs. Joseph Reutman, Brother Leo Sinkula, Floyd Lindauer and Jane Schipp, the present organist and choir director. The church tower, sacristy, and sanctuary were added in 1898. The bells in the tower were donated by George and Margaret Kraus, and were blessed on December 4, 1898 by Abbott Attenasius Schmidt, O. S. B. of St. Meinrad. The bells are imprinted with: Buckeye Bell Foundry Co., The E. W. Vanduzen Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1898 by George & Marg. Kraus. The large bell measures 42" across the lower edge, and the small bell measures 36" across. George Kraus also donated the original Stations of the Holy Way of the Cross, January 1898. The Stations of the Holy Way of the Cross were replaced in January 1954 by the current ones which were purchased from St. Meinrad Seminary.

The original sanctuary included a 6' x 4' picture of St. John Chrysostom painted by D. Annen of Switzerland in 1868 and is presumed to have been given to Father John Chrysostom Foffa. Father Benno Gerber's brother of Ferdinand made the frame for the picture. In later years, the picture was removed from the altar and stored in a storage building. Council records for December 19, 1979, state "Brother Rene Bouillon discovered the picture in the storage shed and took it to St. Meinrad Monastery to have Father Columban restore it." It now hangs in Father Heck Hall. During the 1960's, the rest of the sanctuary decor including the statues and communion railing were removed, and the altar was turned around to face the people. The current carved statues of SS. Mary and Joseph were ordered from Germany.

The exact date is unknown, but more than 78 years ago; there was a fire that went from the stove that heated the church, up the pipe and into the rafters. The charred rafters remain as evidence of this fire. The older parishioners remember the story being told that this event happened on a Sunday, and the parishioners of the nearby Lutheran Church came over and helped to put out the fire.

Picnics were held from 1934 until the early 1950's. People would line up all the way out to New Boston Hill. The picnics were discontinued until 1992 when they were started to help keep the parish going. Each year the picnics continue to grow and everyone enjoys the fellowship that comes with it.

The diamond jubilee of the parish was celebrated on June 13, 1937 and the centennial was celebrated on June 24, 1962. Other celebrations included Father Theodore Heck's jubilee on May 27, 1979 and his 100th birthday in January 2001.

The parish hall was built in 1980, and was named Heck Hall in honor of Father Theodore Heck. The hall is used for parish functions, CCD classes, church picnic, and rented out for other functions. Al Dilger Construction and parish volunteers built the hall. The storage building and attached outhouses were torn down to make way for more parking. The hill was graded and rocked in 1988 by Wayne Simon and John "Skip" Conen.

Throughout the history of the parish, the only time the parish did not have a priest assigned to serve the parish was September 1998 to May 1999. During this time a number of priests from St. Meinrad Monastery came to conduct Sunday services. The Parish Council took care of parish ordinary operations. Father Archabbot Lambert Reilly, O.S.B. informed Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger that St. Meinrad Monastery could no longer supply a priest after June 1, 1999. Plans for the Newburgh Deanery were implemented, and Father Paul Roos, Evansville Diocesan Priest and Pastor of Mary, Help of Christians Church, Mariah Hill was assigned to also serve St. John Chrysostom Parish on June 1, 1999.

Priests Who Have Served
St. John Chrysostom

1859-1862 Rev. John Chrysostom Foffa, O.S.B. 1862-1863 Rev. Joseph Kaufmann 1863-1883 Rev. Martin Marty, O.S.B. Rev. Henry Hug, O.S.B. Rev. Isidore Hobi, O.S.B. Rev. Benedict Brunet, O.S.B. Rev. Wolfgang Schlumpf, O.S.B. Rev. Fintan Mundwiler, O.S.B. Rev. Placidius Zarn, O.S.B. Rev. Benno Gerber, O.S. B., Rev. Conrad Ackermann, O.S.B Rev. Jerome Hunt, O.S.B. Rev. Bede Maler, O.S.B. Rev. Cyrin Thomas, O.S.B. Rev. Nazer WernerO.S.B. 1883-1885 Rev. Martin Marty, O.S.B. July 1885 Rev. John B. Unversagt June 1890 Rev. William Wack (from Troy) 1891-1891 Rev. John B. Schorno, O.S.B. 1891-1892 Rev. Placidius Zarn, O.S.B. 1892-1893 Rev. Bonaventure Goebel, O.S.B. 1894-1896 Rev. Cyrin Thomas, O.S.B. 1896-1898 Rev. Gregory Bechtold, O.S.B. 1898-1916 Rev. Mark Meyer, O.S.B. 1916-1917 Rev. Paul Thoma, O.S.B. 1917-1924 Rev. Rev. Boniface Benker, O.S.B. 1924-1930 Rev. Edward J. Bauer 1930-1933 Rev. Vincent Dwyer 1933-1935 Rev. Gabriel Verkamp, O.S.B. 1935-1936 Rev.William Walker, O.S.B. 1936-1940 Rev. Hilary Dejean,C).S.B. 1940-1941 Rev. Bernard Beck, O.S.B. Jul. 1941 Rt. Rev. Monsignor Marino Priori Nov. 1941 Rev. Bernard Beck, O.S.B. Nov. 1950 Rev. Nicholas Schmidt, O.S.B. May 1955 Rev. Linus Swartz, O.S.B. Jun. 1970 Rev. Joachim Walsh,C).S.B. Sep. 1970 Rev. Theodore Heck,C).S.B. Aug. 1987 Rev. Warren Heitz, O.S.B. Sep. 1995 Rev. Micheas Langston,C).S.B. Sep. 1998 Fahers from St. Meinard June 1999 Rev. Paul Roos

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From the files of:Thomas J. Guenthner