Pictures by: Rockersphotography
On Sunday, October 19th, 2008, the parish community of Saint Boniface Church in Scipio, Kansas, celebrated the 150th anniversary of its foundation.
During the latter part of the 1840s, Jesuits John Shoemaker and Paul Ponziglione started many missions in the eastern part of Kansas. One of the most prominent among them was along the Pottawatomie Creek, which served the Native American people there. Following the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, many settlers from the east, anxious for the opportunity of a new start and the promise of fertile land, settled in the area. Many of these early pioneers in and around the settlement were German Catholics. Among them were the families of John Wolken; brothers Henry, Herman, Gerhardt, and John Roecker; and brothers Henry and Christopher Feuerborn. These early settlers began planning for and the early organization of a parish in 1856. After meeting with Bishop Miege of Leavenworth on numerous occasions, they were able to convince him of the need for a resident pastor, and in 1858, Father Ivo Schnacht arrived to take up his duties. A log church and a cemetery were built on 20 acres of land donated by Wolken, and the earliest church was completed for Christmas Mass that year. On March 13, 1859, the church was dedicated under the patronage of Saint Boniface, the missionary Benedictine and Bishop, who brought the faith to the people of Germany. Initially, there were 37 families who made up the original parish.
In the fall of 1860, Father Aloysius Mayer became the second pastor, and also served missions as far away as Eureka. In 1864, Father Louis Guenther arrived as the first Carmelite to attend to the needs of Saint Boniface Parish. This began the relationship between the parish and the Carmelites that, 144 years later, is still as strong as ever.
The Carmelites, who have been so much a part of the life of this parish, almost from its inception, were lauded and affirmed at the Sesquicentennial Mass by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. During the Eucharist, and before a standing room only congregation, Archbishop Naumann, in his homily, spoke eloquently on the role of the priest in the life of a parish. He thanked the Carmelites who have been the channel through which God’s welcome, forgiveness and mercy, joy and celebration, consolation and compassion have been experienced over the years. The centrality of the Eucharist as the nourishment that sustains any community and the need for a priest to offer that to the people was the context in which Archbishop Naumann installed Father Jerry Williams as the 33rd pastor of Saint Boniface during the festive liturgy. The liturgy was concelebrated by our Prior Provincial, Father John Welch; former pastor and now Commissary Provincial, Father David Simpson; former pastor and resident, Father Clyde Ozminkowski; and Carmelite Fathers Bernard Lickteig and David McEvoy They were joined by Benedictines Abbot Owen Purcell and Aaron Peters. In his remarks at the end of the Mass, Father John thanked the people of Saint Boniface for their commitment and loyalty to the Carmelite community, and acknowledged that most parishes support and help families, but that their families truly support and sustain the parish.
The day of celebration, blessed with bright sun, a mild breeze, and warm temperatures proceeded with a parish potluck dinner where parishioners enjoyed sharing memories and one another’s company.