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Mass Honors Celestine's 175h Anniversary

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, center, speaks during the 10 a.m. Mass on June 24 at St. Celestine Church in Celestine, honoring the 175th anniversary of Father Joseph Kundek's founding of the town of Celestine and its Catholic community. The Message photo.

Father Joseph Kundek founded the town of Celestine and its Catholic community in 1843. Bishop Joseph M. Siegel and seven priests of the Diocese of Evansville concelebrated Mass on June 24 at St. Celestine Church as part of the formal 175th anniversary of the town and its rich Catholic heritage.

Father Ray Brenner, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Jasper and dean of the diocese’s East Deanery, concelebrated with Bishop Siegel and Father John Brosmer, a native son of the parish and pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Evansville; Fathers Donald Ackerman and Tim Tenbarge, retired priests of the diocese; Father Eugene Schmitt, pastor of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish; and Father John Boeglin, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Jasper and Diocesan Director of Rural Life; and Father Ron Kreilein, pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Rockport and St. Martin I Parish in Chrisney. Deacon Mike Seibert assisted.

The Sunday liturgy marked the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. During his homily, Bishop Siegel referred to John’s birth and naming – after the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and said that the child’s name should be John – as the first act of the drama of salvation.

He said that every great story inevitably has a hero or heroine, but that we must not underestimate the supporting cast. In this greatest drama of all, John the Baptist served as the one sent by God to prepare the way for the Messiah.

Bishop Siegel said that we are called to be like John the Baptist, preparing the way for Christ to enter other people’s lives. He added that this significant anniversary gives the Celestine community the opportunity to look back at where they have been, to see where they are and contemplate where God is leading them. It also gives them the opportunity to pass on the rich legacy of faith that Father Kundek and those who came after him built over many generations.

Two priests serving the Diocese of Evansville are native sons of St. Celestine – Father John Brosmer, ordained in 2005; and Father Tony Ernst, ordained in 1998.

As noted above, Father Brosmer serves as pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Evansville. Father Ernst serves as pastor of St. James and Sts. Peter and Paul Parishes in Haubstadt, and Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch. He also serves as dean of the diocese’s West Deanery.