Dubois County Parishes Treasure Multiple Relics
This installment in a series about relics in our diocese explores the relics treasured by St. Isidore the Farmer Parish and by St. Joseph Parish in Jasper.
St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, Celestine
Father Eugene Schmitt, pastor of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, said that most of the parish’s relics are kept at the St. Peter Celestine campus in Celestine. The altar stone at St. Raphael Church in Dubois contains a relic, but no information is available regarding the saint it is from.
A plaque on the altar at St. Peter Celestine Church notes that the altar stone there contains relics of St. Eusebius and St. Balbina. Protected in the parish safe are four golden reliquaries housing a collection of 13 first-class relics: St. Liberta and St. Miolai; St. Laura and St. Peregrinus; St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Augustine and St. Monica; and St. Columbanus, St. Fortunatus, St. Julianus, St. Lucianus, St. Venantius and St. Vitalis.
Father Schmitt particularly enjoys the educational opportunities that the collection of relics affords the parish’s young people – he incorporates the relics into religious-education lessons for middle school and high school students. “People, especially young people in high school, are very interested in them; so we’ll get all the relics out and do a kind of show and tell,” he says.
Father Schmitt speaks enthusiastically about the level of interest in relics among parishioners, noting that it gives him hope to see young people and other parishioners excited about the presence of relics in their parish. “They enjoy learning about it,” he said. “I think it’s a gift to have present at both (parish) campuses what a relic is.”
St. Joseph Parish, Jasper
St. Joseph Parish in Jasper cares for a large collection of relics. Some have belonged to the parish since before the current church was in existence.
The parish’s first-class relics of St. Feliciano and St. Polycarp have been under the care of St. Joseph Parish since 1845 – 35 years before the current church was built. Today, these relics are couched inside a quilted white pillow and housed in an ornate golden display cabinet. Father Ray Brenner, pastor of St. Joseph Parish and Dean of the East Deanery, keeps the relic cabinet in the parish safe.
Since 1908, the parish has also been home to first-class relics of Pope St. Alexander I, St. Eventius, St. Theodueis, St. Sabina and St. Seraphia; these relics are kept in a golden cabinet that matches the cabinet housing St. Feliciano and St. Polycarp relics. These are kept in the parish’s archive room along with other precious items, like chalices and old books.
Father Brenner said that the parish community is also glad to have a relic of St. Maria Goretti, as well as a relic of St. Faustina, which parishioners obtained while on a trip to Poland. Father Brenner particularly enjoys sharing the blessings of these relics with the parish. “When we honor our youth, we bring out St. Maria Goretti, and on Divine Mercy Sunday, we bring out St. Faustina,” he said. Unlike the parish’s other relics, which are kept in locked spaces, St. Faustina is never far away from those who come to St. Joseph. “She’s always on display back with the holy oils,” Father Brenner said, noting that many parishioners practice devotions to Divine Mercy.
A final relic that Father Brenner shared is one that belongs not to the parish, but to his family. Members of his family share a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Daughters of Charity in the Americas. This saint is of particular significance to the family, as Father Brenner’s sister was a Daughter of Charity. “We pass it around in our family to whoever could use a little extra help,” he said of the relic.
Father Brenner emphasizes that the presence of relics in the parish reminds the congregation of the example that the saints set for the Church; he states that it is a gift to “venerate those people who were close to Christ in their relationship with Jesus.”