St. Mary of the Assumption Parish welcomes new priest
By Rachel Battdorf
DECATUR — In 1838 the first Mass was celebrated in Decatur. In 1840 the congregation became St. Mary of the Assumption. Now 176 years old, the congregation has been dedicated to helping the parish growth and witness to the surrounding Decatur community, with the leadership of a new priest.
In June the parish welcomed Father Bob Lengerich. Father Lengerich, formerly from St. Dominic Catholic Church in Bremen, is a joyful and prayerful addition to the staff.
Father Lengerich was ordained to the priesthood in 2007. He also has an interest in music. “What Wondrous Love,” released in 2013 by Father Lengerich and Stacie Bert, was musically designed to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus and His love for us, with the intent to draw one deeper into prayer.
St. Mary of the Assumption has several ministries and organizations dedicated to the church and Decatur community.
Parish growth opportunities for the congregation include Bible studies, bereavement support groups, children’s liturgy choir, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, Christian fellowship for Hispanic members of the congregation and the Women of St. Mary’s — a group created to promote unity of all women at the church to better serve God, the parish and the community.
Opportunities for members of St. Mary of the Assumption to witness to the surrounding Decatur community include blood drives, a prison ministry, Right to Life, Habitat for Humanity in Adams County and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
St. Mary of the Assumption holds Mass Sat. at 4 p.m. and Sun. at 7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., and 11 a.m. Weekday Mass is held Monday-Thursday at 8:15 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday Mass is offered 8:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Woodcrest Nursing home. The church is also open daily.
Geneva parish experienced at rising above difficulty
By Rachel Battdorf
GENEVA — St. Mary of the Presentation, an original Irish settlement, first began its mission in 1856.
“Though small in numbers there is generosity, goodwill and a depth of faith deeply imbedded in the parish,” Father Joseph Bosco Perera said.
Located in Geneva, St. Mary of the Presentation is a small parish with 52 families. Father Perera is the pastor of the small country church that dates back to 1856, when the first Catholics settled in the Jefferson Township portion of Adams County.
Lacking a church building, the first Catholics in the area attended Mass at St. Anthony in Mercer County, later transitioning to the Holy Trinity in Jay County in 1860.
Geneva first had a church building of its own in 1880; a log structure constructed by Irish immigrant congregation members and their neighbors. Tragedy struck in 1881, when the church was destroyed by fire — leading to the construction of a second building in 1883. Once again, congregation members and neighbors donated their time and resources for the 60 x 32-foot brick building.
In 1904 St. Mary of the Presentation became a parish with its own pastor, Rev. Vincent Muinch.
Fire struck for the second time in 1941. Nothing remained of the church but charred brick walls. With only 19 families supporting the church at that time, a representative of the diocese and of the Precious Blood Fathers suggested the parish disband and join Trinity Church, a neighboring parish. Members disagreed; a unanimous vote revealed they wished to remain a separate unit.
For the fourth time, parishioners and neighbors rebuilt the church, enlarging the structure to include a sanctuary and two wings.
Present parishioners are as devoted to the parish as were the original members, Father Perera said. The most recent capital addition is a parish hall, built 25 years ago.
“With changing times and situations, and with the help of Our Blessed Mother, hopefully the parish will go forward to see many more years.”
St. Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church worships on Sunday at 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and Saturday at 5 p.m.
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