Parish History

Holy Family Parish began in December, 1903, and Most Rev. John J. Glennon of St. Louis, sent Rev. Gerhard Fick, native of Rich Fountain to investigate if a parish could be started. He took up a census, and found out that of the 15 families presently living in Freeburg, 10 were Catholic. When the parish actually began in 1904, it numbered 46 families, mostly farmers. The first Solemn Mass was celebrated on Palm Sunday of 1904.

Holy Family School was built and opened on October 15, 1904, with 90 students. The Ursuline nuns from St. Louis, Mo, who stayed in Freeburg from 1904 until 1921 were highly influential in the early education and development of the faith in the parish. A number of young women joined them from Freeburg. The school was successful from the start and proved a great magnet to attract people to Freeburg to give their children a thorough Catholic and secular education. The School Sisters of Notre Dame from St. Louis began teaching in the parish in 1923, and we continue to be blessed by their faith-filled impact through the great blessing of having Sr. Linda Maune on our school faculty. Fr. Fick broke ground for a new church which was completed in 1921, after many donated hours and labor. The same passion for serving God and neighbor continues to propel us toward continued growth as a faith family united in God’s love we stand for an eternity.

Fr. Gerhard Fick died on January 14, 1935, after being pastor for 31 years. Fr. James Ehlenz was appointed pastor on January 26, 1935 until 1941. Fr. Bernard Groner became pastor on July 16, 1941 until 1966. During Fr. Groner’s pastorate, a number of the following notable events took place. In 1942, Fr. Sylvester Bauer became the first native son of the parish to be ordained a priest. He was ordained for St. Louis and later was incardinated into the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese. Fr. Bauer died on August 30, 2013. He donated his body to science. A second native of the parish to be ordained a priest was Fr. Alexander (Eugene) Luetkemeyer, O.S. B. in 1952, a Benedictine priest of Conception Abbey. Fr. Luetkemeyer passed away in 2005, and is buried at Conception Abbey.

Improvements to the parish property consisted of the construction of the parish ball diamond, the parish purchased the public school building, a new convent was built in 1953, and in 1956, Holy Family Parish became part of the newly established Diocese of Jefferson City.

Msgr. Bernard Timpe was appointed pastor in 1966, and served until his death on May 23, 1972. Fr. Norman Ahrens became pastor in 1973 until 1975. Fr. Joseph Lawlor, a missionary of the Diocese of Peru, was appointed administrator in 1975 until November 1975 when Fr. Hugh Behan was appointed pastor. In 1980, Msgr. Gerold J. Kaiser was appointed pastor. He remained until 1986 when Fr. John Groner, a nephew of Msgr. Bernard Groner was welcomed as pastor until 1993. Fr. Richard Frank was pastor from July 1993 to 1998, Fr. Michael Murphy was appointed from July 1, 1998 to 2004, Fr. R. William Peckman was appointed pastor from 2004 to 2008, Rev. Philip E. Niekamp was appointed pastor in 2008 until 2013. Rev. Nicholas J. Reid was appointed pastor in July 2013 until June 30, 2015 when he was appointed a Chaplin in the United States Air Force. The present pastor, Rev. William D. Debo was appointed in July 2015 and serves both Holy Family and Sacred Heart, Rich Fountain.

On May 27, 2000, native son of the parish, Fr. Joseph Welschmeyer was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis at the Cathedral Basilica.. Fr. Welschmeyer passed away on June 25, 2014.

Today, Holy Family School has an enrollment of 79 students from Pre-K through 8th grades and is under the leadership of Mrs. Debbie Reinkemeyer as principal. Holy Family Parish is as proud as ever of the life giving impact our children and young adults makes on our parish family and wider community.

Holy Family’s biggest fundraiser continues to be the parish picnic held on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. This day continues to draw our relatives and friends back to Holy Family Parish to feast on a home-cooked family style meal with all the trimmings, bid on hand-made quilts, try their luck at the many games, find their favorite baked items in the Country Store, take chances for the many donated prizes at the large raffle stand or refresh their thirst at the beer, wine or soda stand. A Fall Supper and Spring Dinner along with other smaller fund-raisers have been added to the yearly schedule of events to help promote fellowship and financial stability.

The parish and community proudly celebrated their centennial in 2004 with a Mass of Thanksgiving with Bishop John R. Gaydos, followed by a weekend of activities and fun.

Holy family Parish continues to build on a proud and faith-filled past and look forward to boldly moving forward in celebrating the love of the one true God. As we deeply thank God for all of our past blessings we look forward to continue to discover his goodness anew!

“The House in which God dwells among the children of men and women
should be the most substantial and beautiful in the community”
Fr. Gerhard Fick’s slogan

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