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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
June 21, 1996     The Message
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June 21, 1996

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Washington Deanery will be By PAUL R. LEINGANG Message editor As planning unfolds for ways to staff the parishes of the Dio- cese of Evansville, the Wash- ington Deanery appears to have the most drastic changes in store. Eight diocesan priests cur- rently serve the 12 parishes in the Washington Deanery. In 2005, only four diocesan priests will be available, if the task force projections hold true. Task force members rec- ommend that three pastoral life coordinators be emPloyed in the deanery. Many churches in the Wash- ington Deanery have a history of working together. St. Simon and St. Mary inWashington cooperate in the operation of the Washington Catholic Schools. For many years, the smaller parishes in the area have been served by resident pastors at larger communities. St. Mary, Daviess County and All Saints, Cannelburg, are currently served by one priest, Father Frank Renner. Father Lowell Will serves three parishes, St. Peter, Montgomery, where he resides, and St. Patrick and St. Michael, both in rural areas of Daviess County. Msgr. Carl Shetler has served St. Martin, Whitfield, where he resides, and St. Mary, Shoals, since 1983. In July, Father Gregory Spencer will live at and serve St. Joseph, Bramble, and also take over pastoral responsibilities at St. Mary, Shoals. In commenting on his new assignment, Father Spencer' noted that the challenge for the area Catholics is to con- tinue to increase the level of cooperation into the future. Following is a parish-by- parish examination of the pre- sent staffing, and recommen- dations for the future. Statistics cited and the names of staff members listed are taken from the 1996 Diocesan Yearbook and Directory. Much of the information about the parish histories is taken from a collection of parish histories published by the Message in 1989. Bramble St. Joseph Church, Bramble, currently has 82 families, or 230 individuals. Father Alber- tus "Bert" Lutterbach was pastor of the Martin County parish from July 1987 until his untimely death in July 1995. Father Lutterbach resided at the parish, and also provided sacramental care for the nearby chapel at Crane Naval Depot. Weekly Masses are no longer scheduled at Crane. Father Lutterbach was 61 at the time of his death. His body was dis- covered July 25, 1994, in a mountain campsite in northern Italy. He appar- ently died in his sleep, fol- lowing several days of travel during which he had noted in his journal that he had had some breathing discomfort amid the fumes of trucks and other vehicles. No resident pastor was as- signed to succeed Father Lut- terbach. In June 1995, Father Gre- gory Spencer was appointed administrator of the parish; he was also assigned to be a mem- ber of the staff of St. John Church, Loogootee, with Fa- ther Leo C. Kiesel serving as moderator of Father Spencer's collaborative ministry. In July of this year, Father Spencer will become pastor of St. Joseph and of a second parish, St. Mary Church, Shoals. Once again, St. Joseph will have a resident pastor, but this time, the pastor will have to divide his time and his ef- forts between the two commu- nities. Father Spencer, 39, was or- dained in 1989. After serving as an associate at St. Ferdi- nand, Ferdinand, and Holy Rosary, Evansville, he was named pastor of Mary, Help of Christians, Mariah Hill, in 1992. While at Mariah Hill, he also served as moderator at Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, where Benedictine Sister Mary Terence Knapp is the pastoral life coordinator. Peggy Padgett is the coordi- nator of religious education at Bramble. The parish has six children in pre-school religious education, 39 of elementary school age, and 11 high school age students. The current weekend Mass schedule includes Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:15 a.m. The new staffing recommen- dation is for the parishes at Bramble and Shoals to share a pastoral life coordinator. The two parishes would be clus- tered with other parishes in the Loogootee and Montgomery area. According to the task force recommendation, only two priests would be available in 2005 to serve the area which now includes nine parishes. Three of those churches, St. Mary, St. Michael and St. Patrick, all in Daviess County, are recommended to become oratories, or chapels, where Mass would be celebrated only on special occasions. The two priests would more than likely reside at" St. John, Loogootee/and at St. Peter, Montgomery. A pastoral life co- ordinator would serve the parishes at Bramble and Shoals; a second PLC would Father Leo Kissel is the Dean of the Washington Deanery serve St. Martin, Whitfield. All Saints, Cannelburg, would have an additional staff mem- ber, and would also be part of the cluster. The parish at Bramble was established in 1853. The Catholic community had been established earlier at Miles Settlement, but moved to Bramble Crossroads when the community began to grow. St. Joseph was served as a mission by the pastor of St. Mary Church, Daviess County. The original property at Miles Settlement was sold to the fed- eral government in 1941, and became part of the Naval Ordi- nance Depot in 1942. Cannelburg All Saints Church, Cannel- burg, had the distinction of being the first parish with a deacon as pastoral life coordi- nator. Deacon Don Lahay and his wife Clare lived in what had been the rectory. Deacon Lahay also cared for the worshipping community at nearby St. Mary, in Barr Township of Daviess County. Deacon Lahay served "as PLC at the two parishes, with the title in use at the time of "Parish Administrator," from August 1989 until 1992. Father Frank Renner was appointed pastor of All Saints and of St. Mary in 1992. " The appointment of a priest to succeed a PLC lived up to a promise made by Bishop Ger- ald A. Gettelfinger. He had stated on several occasions that a having a PLC appointed to a parish did not determine the future of that parish for- ever. Father Renner, 41, was or- dained in 1981. Prior to his current assignment as pastor of two parishes, he served as an associate pastor at St. John, Loogootee, and at St. Joseph, Jasper. There are 52 families at All Saints, or 118 individuals. Lynda Stoll is the parish sec- retary. The religious education pro- gram includes one pre-school student, 10 elementary and two high school age students. Mass is celebrated on Satur- days at 5 p.m. and on Sundays at 8 p.m. According to the task force recommendation, only two priests would be available in 2005 to serve the area which now includes nine parishes. St. Mary, Daviess County, would become an oratory, or chapel, where Mass would be celebrated only on special occasions. St. Michael and St. Patrick, also in Daviess County, are also recom- mended to become orato- ries. In the future, one priest will reside at St. John, Loogootee, and another at St. Peter, Montgomery. A pastoral life coordinator would serve the parishes at Bramble and Shoals; a second PLC would serve St. Martin, Whitfield. All Saints would have an additional staff mem- ber -- perhaps a pastoral associate -- and would also be part of the Loo- gootee-Montgomery clus- ter. All Saints Church was estab- lished in 1893. Father Bartholomew Piers used to serve the mission parish from his own parish at Montgomery, traveling to All Saints on a hand car along the railroad tracks. Loogootee Father Leo C. Kiesel, pastor of St. John Church, Loogootee, since 1990, is the Dean of the Washington Deanery. Parish history dates back to the "Maryland League" Catholic families who settled in Kentucky and then crossed the Ohio into Daviess and Martin counties. Original fam' ily names include Brewer, Bowling, Cissell, Melton, Mat- tingly, Norris and Spaulding. Irish immigrants, who came to the area in the 1850s to build a railroad, swelled the popula- tion. St. John Church currently has 729 families, or 1,774 indi- viduals. Parish staff includes Alice Weisheit, DRE; Linda Cropp, RCIA and Liturgy Coor- dinator; Shirley Jeffers, Youth Minister, and Connie McAtee, parish secretary. Father Ralph Doyle, assis- tant pastor in 1935 and pastor in 1941, served the parish until his death in 1964. He had guided construction of a Catholic high school, which was consolidated with the pub- lic school system after his death. The current religious educa- tion program includes 11 in pre-school, 115 elementary and 39 high school age students. Weekend Masses are cele- brated on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. and on Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m. The task force recommends Loogootee --2 * St. Mary, Barr St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Martin, W St. John, St. Peter, All Saints, Cannelburg " * St. Michael * St. .wssh Sts. - St. Present -: 8 Diocesan Priests, that a r the parish as tor at priest-pastor would also tal service for a the deanery. ': Montgomery St Peter Chl gomery, is parish in diana, dating log church bui Ridge in 1818. Mont to manY as Notre Dame not built, I-I Edward Cross Brothers tion of col Black Oak changed to The P opened in , re-openeu "'" the building public st Sisters the schoO Benedictine cent times. Fathe pastor serves St. Patrick, b CountY. parish Sue tiva and ister. There are 453 individt the The gram e and 19 . dentS' ' brated at