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Bishop Celebrates Mass For St. Peter Parish Bicentennial

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, center, celebrates Mass on July 22 at St. Peter Parish in Montgomery as part of the parish's bicentennial. The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the 9:30 a.m. Mass on July 22 at St. Peter Parish in Montgomery as the second old parish in Indiana closed its formal bicentennial celebration. Pastor Father Jim Koressel concelebrated and served as homilist, hailing parish founders for “faith strong enough to move mountains.”

Other concelebrants included Father Joseph Erbacher, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Ireland; and Fathers Jean Vogler and Lowell Will, retired priests of the Diocese of Evansville. Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus from Assembly 255 in Washington and Assembly 1813 in Loogootee provided the Honor Guard for the Mass.

Diocesan Director of Worship Matt Miller served as emcee. Diocese of Evansville seminarian Tyler Underhill assisted and served as Crucifer. Joshua O’Brian and Logan Spinks of St. Peter Parish also were servers.

As he welcomed a crowd that filled the 149-year-old St. Peter Church to capacity, Bishop Siegel quoted Psalm 118. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Father Koressel began his homily by thanking Bishop Siegel for saying yes to becoming bishop of the diocese, and for his visit to the parish during its bicentennial. He then turned to the long history of St. Peter Parish, recognizing first “the people who followed through on their promise; the people who founded the parish and staffed it after its founding.”

He then offered a look into life in 1818:

  • Pius VII was Pope
  • James Monroe was the fifth President of the U.S.
  • Travel occurred by horseback, stagecoach and steamboat, where available
  • Electricity hadn’t been invented
  • St. Peter’s first parishioners ate what they could grow or hunt

“The people who settled this area and founded St. Peter Parish brought very little with them, and they left very little,” Father Koressel said. “But they did bring a faith strong enough to move mountains.

“They came with nothing and left us everything,” he added. “Now it’s our time to bestow on this parish what it did not have before us.”

Following Mass, those in attendance and other invited guests enjoyed a hog roast prepared by volunteers from St. Martin Church in Whitfield, long known for its annual hog-roast fundraisers. The St. Martin community is now part of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Loogootee.

St. Peter parishioner Patty Fuhs baked and decorated three anniversary cakes for all to enjoy.