From a church brochure is this history:
"During the [1820s] immigrants from the Baden area of Germany came and settled in this part of Missouri. Priest from 'The Barrens' (St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville) were the first to see their spiritual needs. Father John Odin, C.M., became the first pastor in 1828. Mr. W. Joseph Schnurbusch was a leader in building the first church made of logs. The church was given the name St. Joseph, in his honor.The parish's first pastor, Jean-Marie Odin, of the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentians or Lazarists, had a remarkable career. He was rector of the seminary and college in Perryville, founded schools, was a missionary to the Indians, and as Apostolic Vicar, was a defender of Catholics and the Church in the Republic of Texas. He later became Bishop of Galveston and Archbishop of New Orleans, and attended the First Vatican Council.
"The first church, built in 1828, was used for 12 years; then the second, called the Rock Church, was constructed. It was 600 feet north of the present church. In 1881, the cornerstone was laid and in 1884, the present church was completed. The pastor, Rev. Francis Krieger oversaw the construction of the church, the rectory in 1904, and the convent in 1917. He was pastor of St. Joseph for 30 years. He installed a Pfeiffer organ (Opus 7), three bells, named Joseph, Cecelia and Elizabeth. Later for the 100th anniversary, Emil Frye added stained-glass windows.
"The church was again renovated in the fall of 1998. A new marble sanctuary was installed, lights from the 1950s were restored and hung, angel artwork is in place, with future artwork being added over time. The Parish family lavishly decorates the church at Christmas and Easter. The parish currently has 240 registered families. The parish is definitely alive with the Spirit!"
Apple Creek in a tiny, unincorporated community, originally known as Schnurbusch.
The rectory. Its interior, like the church, is beautifully decorated.
Decorations for the Christmas season.
Detail of the high altar.
The baptismal font. Here you can see the polished marble floor.
XIIIth Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross.
The pipe organ.
Next to the church is an outdoor Way of the Cross, added in the late 1990s. The via doloroso leads us down a steep path, which takes us to the bottom of a sink-hole, where a surprise awaits us.
At the bottom is Our Lady of Saint Joseph Shrine and the Schnurbusch Karst Window. The shrine features a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Grace, an altar, and amphitheater.
There is an invisible world beneath our feet, and the collapse of a cave roof allows us to see a small portion of a hidden underground stream. A waterfall appears out of solid rock; and its water goes before the altar, under the stone bridge, and back into a cave.
'Karst topography' is a land shaped by copious water flowing through soluble rock, and leads to such landforms as caves, springs, and sinkholes. According to Wikipedia, "Some areas of karst topography, such as southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in the USA, are underlain by thousands of caves"; Perry County has at least 650 known caves.
The water here keeps the same cool temperature all year, and so this shrine ought to be delightfully cool in the summertime.
According to the parish history:
"In 1857 Rev. Joseph Becker installed stone steps to the cave spring so drinking water could be carried to the rectory via buckets and neck yoke. Later a water line was laid so water could be pumped to the rectory.Address:
"In 1883, Rev. Francis Krieger had a dam built and installed a hydraulic ram, which brought the water to the rectory by its own power. This provided the water supply until 1927 when the present deep well was drilled.
"Father Michell Deck began development of the Shrine, behind the church, in the 1950s. Father George Schrammel added to it in 1971. parishioners did most of the stonework using foundations of old farm homes and barns in the community. An altar, bridge way and walkways add to the beauty of the shrine."
138 Saint Joseph Lane
Perryville, Missouri 63775