September 1, 2006

Future meets past: Pilgrimage roots seminarians in archdiocesan history

By Sean Gallagher

NEW ALSACE—The future of the archdiocese reached back to the past during an Aug. 16 pilgrimage of 25 seminarians to two Batesville Deanery parishes that are more than 170 years old.

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein joined them and was the primary celebrant of a Mass celebrated at St. Paul Church in New Alsace.

The Servant of God Simon Bruté, the first bishop of Vincennes, dedicated the church in 1838.

“By the time he dedicated this church, Bishop Bruté was already suffering from tuberculosis,” Archbishop Buechlein said during his homily. “So I think it’s helpful to try to absorb what a man like him went through in order that we might have the faith handed down to us in our own day.”

Before the Mass, Msgr. Harold Knueven, administrator of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg and a priest for almost 50 years, told the seminarians about the history of his home parish.

“I was just a kid in an ordinary, small town,” he said. “[The seminarians] have come from various backgrounds and they can become priests just like I became a priest. I hope I was an inspiration to them and that I gave them the opportunity to see that I came from an ordinary family, an ordinary town.”

Two of the archdiocese’s newest seminarians who participated in the pilgrimage are from small towns close to New Alsace.

Daniel Bedel, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg, is a freshman at the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary at Marian College in Indianapolis.

“A tour of some of the things that Simon Bruté did is a great way to start off the seminary since I’m going to Simon Bruté Seminary,” he said.

Jerry Byrd, a member of St. Louis Parish in Batesville, grew up just minutes away from St. Paul Parish but knew little of its history since he was raised as a Southern Baptist.

“Everything that is hidden behind these doors I was taught was wrong,” said Byrd, who entered the full communion of the Church in 1998.

“Coming in here and hearing the history of this parish, and it being only five or six minutes away from where I live, it’s pretty cool.”

Byrd is beginning his priestly formation at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Until recently, Byrd served as the youth minister at St. Louis Parish. Before that, he served as the youth minister at St. Joseph Parish in St. Leon and St. John the Baptist Parish in Dover.

It was to the latter parish that the seminarians went after being hosted for lunch at St. Martin Parish in nearby Yorkville.

St. John the Baptist Parish was established in 1824 as a part of the-then Diocese of Bardstown, Ky. It later became a part of the Diocese of Vincennes and was visited by Bishop Bruté.

The archbishop and the seminarians heard a presentation about the history of the parish, and prayed the rosary there before returning to Indianapolis.

Father Eric Johnson, archdiocesan vocations director, also accompanied the seminarians on the pilgrimage.

“This is a way to kind of root them more deeply in the story of their archdiocese,” Father Johnson said, “in the place that they come out of.” †


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