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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 13, 1987     The Message
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November 13, 1987

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St. James Church, Diocesan Vocations Director, Father Dave Fleck, left, lives at St. James. St. James, right, was consecrated Sep. 6, 1857, by Bishop de St. Patois of Vincennes. The building is Roman style, 108 by 50 feet. The church steeple was erected by Father Joseph Hegger, pastor from 1896 to 1900. Three bells, named after St. James, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, were purchased by Father J. J. Mercki during his pastorate, 1875-90. The side entrance making the church accessible to wheelchairs, was added by current pastor Father Michael Madden; bricks were matched to the original structure. The rectory at the side of the church, center, was built in 1911. A new Sisters House was built in 1940. The history of St. James is also a history of dedication to Catholic education. "The people take particular pride in having had a school for so long," says the pastor. The first log church became a school in 1857, as soon as the new church was blessed. Early parish history was recorded in the meticulous hand of Father Weinzoepfel, bottom center. In 1867, Father J. M. Ficker built a two- room brick schoolhouse. Lay teachers taught in the early years. Ursuline Sisters from Louisville were in charge from 1883 to 1890. Benedictine Sisters followed shortly thereafter. What is now "the old school," above lel, opened for classes in September, 1909. Classes began in "the new school," opposite page, on Nov. 23, 1960. Kirk Kemp, above right, is Principal. ST. JAMES VINCENNES DEANERY SULLIVAN EVANSVILLE_DE .. II, JOMI=N li&apos;l  St. James was first Catholic churc St. James Church will continue to grow, predicts the pastor, Father Michael Madden. His prediction is made partly because of the parish location near Interstate 64 and U.S. Highway 41, and partly because of the strength of the parish community. The history of early parish growth is a story of many strengths -- many times in cooperation, occasionally in conflict. A 1972 parish publication reports the first priest to travel through the area was Father F. Czackert, who came from St. Mary, Illinois, to celebrate Mass at the log cabin of Xavier Weiss, in 1836. From 1837 to 1840, the pastor of Assumption Church in Evansville, Father A. D. Deydier, came occasionally to the area. In 1840, Father Deydier sent Father Roman Weinzoepfel to minister to the German speaking settlers. Father Weinzoepfel celebrated Mass in the home of Andrew Hanft, and began the work which would lead to establishment of parishes at St. Joseph, St. Wendel, St. James and other churches in the area. Father Weinzoepfel had come to Indiana at a time "when the hatred of Catholicism in the Evansville area was still rampant," according to the parish history. An accusation of rape by an Evansville woman in 1842 led to atrial and a prison sentence for the priest, in May 1844. "Governor James Whit.comb of Indiana had visited Father Weinzoepfel and told him that he was convinced of his innocence, yet did nothing about it," according to the account. "Through the intercession of Mrs. James K. Polk, wife of President Polk, the Governor did exonerate the priest and signed his release in February 1845." The woman who had accused t death." Whil priest ms :, James. A ,:- througt served th chapel to was setth released t recorded Anot seating s I describes church t put the c] later for the log cl ly 25, 18 , Tk.)] later, bec gregation site, as t/ '#-" /' I / ........... ," '/ I-., ......... i .... .... I .-.<- ,.. .... I Rectory: .... Convent .... School an&C Pastor: ..... In residence: Saturdays:.. Sundays:... | I