Friday, January 06, 2012

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
January 06, 2012


Dear Faithful and Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,

As we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany we are made aware of the presence of God among us. Christmas is the revelation of God made man and Epiphany the celebration of the first public acknowledgement of the Incarnation of God in Christ. Today we are invited to kneel down joyfully at the crèche again, full of holy expectation for the blessings in our lives as Catholics.


I wish you, your families and friends a blessed feast of the Epiphany and I invite you to come tonight to our 
Solemn High Mass here at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory at 6:30 PM.


Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey in December and the two Oratory members who contributed their talents and time to compile data, the results are in! They are presented in the following video. Please take a look.

Slightly more people participated in the survey this year than last. The statistical portrait generated by the new numbers is a strong copy of our first snapshot from last year. It confirms that people of all ages continue to be attracted to the beauty of the liturgy at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. One representative comment says, “The Oratory has been an essential part to the spiritual growth of our family.” The numbers show that families come from near and far to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the many liturgical and community events offered here.

However, the numbers cannot adequately measure the growing family spirit which is emerging in the life of the Oratory from day to day. As we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany today, let us thank Divine providence for what we have at the Oratory.


The present status of St. Francis de Sales Oratory would not have been possible were it not for the generosity of Raymond Cardinal Burke, who, as the Archbishop of St. Louis in 2005, helped the superiors of the Institute erect this Oratory. It was this vision which first set into motion the restoration of St. Francis de Sales. We are grateful that Cardinal Burke will revisit the Oratory and celebrate a Solemn Benediction on Tuesday, January 31, at 5:00 PM. After the ceremony, the Cardinal has generously made time to attend a reception by the faithful in the Oratory Hall.


We have begun to organize the reception for the Cardinal. We would be grateful for all help with food, set up, clean up, and monetary contribution to make this a memorable evening for everyone.

Please contact Mrs. Jenny Pekny via email at, if you are able to provide:
help with food or funding - help with set up before the reception
help during the reception, clearing tables - help after the reception, cleaning up the hall
Thank you very much for your generosity.

St. Francis de Sales, the Bishop of Geneva affectionately known as the “Doctor of Charity,” is one of the patrons of the Institute and the titular patron saint of this church. In addition to his heavenly intercessions on our behalf, his prolific writings are a great source of spiritual help, even today, nearly 400 years after they were written. This year his feast falls on the last Sunday of January. Please mark your calendars as we join the entire Institute in celebrating this patronal feast.


The effects of the sacred music from Gaudete Gala continue to reverberate long after the memorable evening ended. We received many positive comments on the beauty experienced by so many, especially after the Midnight Mass, when some of the Christmas carols were presented before the beginning of the liturgy. We are pleased to present a few more photos from the Gala for you to enjoy - if you will, a “Nachlese,” a German word with a sweet connotation of a “second harvest.”




We begin the new year 2012 with a look back at the humble beginning of this church, courtesy of the parish book produced for the centennial celebration in 1967.
In the year of 1867 when our parish of St. Francis de Sales was established there was reigning in the Eternal City of Rome Pope Pius IX, who had the longest pontificate in the history of the church - 32 years; there was presiding as Archbishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Peter Kenrick, who was leader of our Catholic faithful for over 45 years, the longest reign of any Archbishop in the history of our city, Cardinal Glennon of blessed memory reigned for almost 43 years; and there was as President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, who one year after our parish was established was almost removed from the high office of President by the first and only impeachment proceedings in the history of our country - President Johnson came within one vote of being forced to retire as President.

Against such a historical background and with the bitter Civil War still strong in the minds and memories of the people, our parish of St. Francis de Sales took its beginning on the date of April 22, 1867.

This was not a well-populated or settled neighborhood during the post Civil War years. It was rather a neighborhood of dairy farmers and dirt roads. The people who were living here then were members of the parish of SS. Peter and Paul at Eighth and Allen streets. But little by little the open prairie land became more and more populated by German Catholic people. It was in 1867 that these good German Catholics decided to establish a parish church for themselves at Gravois and Ohio.

2810 Ohio street was the scene of the first parish meeting in March of 1867, a meeting called specifically to discuss plans for the new parish church. The home belonged to one Theodore Thien. This first meeting was followed by the second and very decisive one at the home of a certain Mr. A. Van Mierlo on April 22, 1867, and it was at the second meeting that the actual decision to establish our parish was made.

The grounds at Ohio and Lynch avenues were purchased, just a few short yards north of old Gravois avenue, for $4,000.00 by the building committee, and the ground-breaking ceremony was soon underway. The construction of the new brick church was to cost $12,850.00, a goodly sum for the few parishioners at hand in those days. The cornerstone laying ceremony took place on September 15, 1867, barely five months after the actual decision to found a new parish. For this special occasion many neighboring priests and many people came and took part.

One month after the cornerstone laying ceremony Archbishop Peter Kenrick appointed the first Pastor of the parish, the Reverend Louis Lay. The new pastor resided at the home of one of the parishioners at 2845 Ohio for a year until the new rectory was built for him the following year.

Rev. Ludwig Lay 1867-1869
Meanwhile with a new pastor at hand the building of the church made rapid progress so much so that the first Mass celebrated in the new church was on Christmas morning in 1867. Actually three Masses had been announced for that day but only one could be celebrated because of the poor health of the new pastor. Father Lay, however, did make that Christmas Day a memorable one also by baptizing three children into the household of God. As for the first marriage at our parish church, this did not take place until later on April 17, 1868. There are no records any longer concerning the first funeral service from the new church.

The solemn dedication of the new church of St. Francis de Sales took place on May 24, 1868 with much special ceremony. Father Lay, the first pastor, had taken a census at that time and had counted some 800 members, fifty of which had been baptized and received into the church in less than one year. This was proof enough that a new parish church was needed for this area in south St. Louis.


Some milestones of our church were clearly marked, as indicated by this plaque. Can you remember where you have seen this plaque which recognized the special status of our church? Please visit therestoration blog and write your answer in today’s mystery photo combox.

With all best wishes and the assurance of my fervent prayers,
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

No comments:

Post a Comment