Marilyn Karpinski
St. Anthony de Padua, Angola
December 13, 2016 // Uncategorized

St. Anthony of Padua and St. Paul Chapel: Reaching out

Marilyn Karpinski
St. Anthony de Padua, Angola

By Marilyn Karpinski

The parish of St. Anthony of Padua, Angola, is a vibrant and active community of believers with a history of witness in the surrounding area.

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Angola and St. Paul Catholic Chapel in Clear Lake Township, just outside Angola, are two Catholic churches in Steuben County whose members consider themselves a single Catholic community.

Steuben County prides itself on its 101 lakes. Being a resort destination has repercussions, though, and residents and county officials alike attest to the increase in population during the summer months, when “lakers” partake of the natural beauty of the area. The situation is equally evident for the Catholic Church in Steuben County, where an increase in summer residents means extra Masses, extra opportunities for sacraments and extra outreach in different forms. Some of the summer attendees are familiar faces who have had cottages on the lakes for many years: others are new to the area, or just passing through. Either way, they receive a welcome at St. Anthony’s and St. Paul’s.

In addition to Masses at the two churches, from Memorial Day to Labor Day an outdoor Saturday evening Mass at Manapogo Campground is celebrated amidst lawn chairs, blankets and campfires.

“The Chapel” at Clear Lake shares a pastor with St. Anthony of Padua, Angola, as well as administrative resources.

75 years at Clear Lake

As the world went to war in 1939 and 1940, American involvement seemed unavoidable. With that came gasoline rationing, and the Catholics of Steuben County worried these hardships would make it difficult or impossible for people in the northern part of the county to get to Sunday Mass. Especially, it was feared, summer residents might lose their connection with a parish.

In response, several families in Clear Lake Township, together with the Franciscan Friars of Angola, decided to open out an outreach on the lakeshores. In the spirit of the mission bands that the Franciscans were known for, they purchased an old school house and opened a mission chapel. Dedicated to St. Paul the Missionary Apostle, St. Paul’s Catholic Chapel in Clear Lake has continued this spirit of outreach for 75 years. The community has grown to several hundred permanent residents and many more summer residents. The Catholic community of St. Paul’s runs itself as a quasi-parish, with its own faith formation program, pastoral and finance councils, clubs, groups and associations.

Every day at noon the large, stained glass window above the altar in the sanctuary at St. Anthony of Padua Church reflects perfectly in the submersion pool of the baptismal font, located in the back of the church.

St. Anthony’s — more than brick and mortar

In 2010, parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua realized their dream of replacing their temporary church, a pole barn built in 1959, with a permanent structure. While the walls of the new church were no more than metal studs, and the floor leveled dirt, a service was held in the roughed-in structure. Parishioners brought stones decorated by their families to be placed within the frame the contractor had erected for pouring the concrete for the altar platform. Some marked the lives of loved ones who had passed, while others bore prayers and dreams for the future, but each held special meaning to the parishioner placing the stone. The messages on them were made more poignant by the fact that they would be encased in concrete to support the altar upon which every Mass for generations to come would be celebrated.

The Holy Spirit was the architect

Throughout the fundraising and building process, parishioners, through a parish prayer recited at each Mass, called on the Holy Spirit to be their architect. He answered.

Fundraising experts projected $1.7 million would be a realistic fundraising goal, given the demographics of the parish. This was far short of the $4.3 million needed to complete the project. Rather than scrap the plans, parishioners called on the Holy Spirit and the full amount was raised. Only three years after completion, all debt was retired.

When incorrect materials were delivered, the parishioners found the ones delivered in error were more appropriate than those ordered. When a shipping strike threatened the delivery of a large glass art piece for above the altar in time for the dedication, parishioners once again put their faith in the Holy Spirit. The piece arrived at 6 p.m. on Friday, and workers labored through the night to install it in time for the Saturday evening dedication. A window fragment from the original church building of 1932 was also incorporated into the new rose windows of the church, which have become the symbols of the community.

The Franciscan friars and the spirit of Assisi

Father Robert Showers, OFM Conv

Father Bernie Zajdel, OFM Conv

The Catholics of Angola have, for decades, been accustomed to the presence of friars living on church grounds and participating in the life of the community. Today, four friars live in the St. Anthony of Padua Friary next door.

The Franciscans founded a Midwest province in the 1920s under the patronage of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Consolation. Their headquarters is in Southern Indiana at a place called Mount Saint Francis, in Floyd County. They took the name of the new province from the pilgrimage shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, which the friars care for.

In 1931, the Conventual Franciscans came to Angola. They were given the care of St. Rita’s parish, founded in 1926. The first friar-pastor was Clem Orth. The friars established the province novitiate in Angola and for many years, every friar of OLC Province spent time in Angola. The bishop changed the name of the parish to St. Anthony of Padua, a great Franciscan saint, to honor them.

After 15 years of Mass in rented buildings, the Franciscans helped build a new church in 1940. It still stands as the Knights of Columbus meeting space and is called Maximilian Kolbe Hall, after another great conventual saint. The friars also helped build St. Paul’s chapel, a new pastor’s residence (since torn down), a second St. Anthony’s church in 1959 and, finally, a third St. Anthony’s church in 2010.

The faith community at St. Paul Catholic Chapel swells in size during the summer, which is also when many outdoor events, including an annual outdoor Mass, happen. This gathering took place during the chapel’s 75th anniversary celebration in July.

Evangelization through outdoor drama

The outdoors has always been a big part of the life of St. Anthony and St. Paul parishes. The Manapogo Campground Mass is just one example.

In 2013 parishioners of St. Anthony were looking for a way to make the true meaning of Christmas more visible. They decided to present a “live, drive-thru Nativity” where people of the community, from the comfort of their cars, could experience the Christmas story told through four biblical scenes: Mary and Joseph at the inn, the angel appearing to shepherds in the field, the Wise Men traveling to Bethlehem, and the manger.

Parishioners in costume — with live animals, including a camel — grace each scene. The road through the scenes is outlined with over 500 luminaria and each scene includes a corresponding Bible verse. A related carol is broadcast. Over 100 parishioners volunteer their services to make the event possible and while many cars stop to offer a donation, they are told donations are not accepted. The Drive-Thru Nativity is the parish’s Christmas gift to the community. This year’s event took place Sunday, Dec. 11 on the parish grounds at 700 W. Maumee Street.

In the spirit of the great Passion plays, the Hispanic Ministry at St. Anthony’s produces a living Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. This drama, too, involves almost 100 people. Attendees walk each of the stations with Christ, from His presentation to Pilot to His crucifixion. The “live crucifixion” is a vivid reminder of the Passion of our Lord. The accompanying narrative is offered in both Spanish and English.

At St. Paul’s, besides the annual “Mass in the Grass” and other outdoor events, this summer a new children’s Bible school was introduced, with emphasis on enjoying God’s nature and learning to love what He has wrought. There are also annual boat rides, bicycle rides and more. The outdoors seems to be an important part of the parish spirit: no wonder, then, that even the Human Life and Dignity Group seeks to emphasize the care of God’s creation in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

Never a dull moment

A brief review of the St. Anthony of Padua parish calendar finds many nights with multiple events scheduled. Traditional organizations such as the Altar and Rosary Society and the Knights of Columbus provide service to the community, while sacramental preparation programs — from RCIA to baptism and marriage preparation groups — deepen parishioners’ faith. Hundreds of children, youth and adults take part religious education program at both campuses. Students from Trine University in Angola, located across the street from St. Anthony’s, find it to be their parish away from home and participate in Mass and the liturgical ministries, as well as their own Newman Fellowship group. The St. Paul Chapel Boosters, Men’s Club, Women’s Club and other groups keep the Gospel lively in the northern end of the county. In fact, the parish websites list over 40 groups and ministries, so there is something for everyone.


St. Anthony of Padua 

700 W. Maumee Street
Angola, IN  46703

Winter Mass Schedule:
Saturday: 5 p.m.
Sunday: 7:30 and 10 a.m.

Summer Mass Schedule: (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend)
Saturday: 5 p.m.

Sunday: 7, 8:30 and 10 a.m.

Manapogo Park:
Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Daily Mass in chapel: Monday-Saturday at 8 a.m.
Rosary at 7:30 a.m.

Spanish Mass: Every 3rd Friday at 7 p.m.

St. Paul Chapel

98780 E. 700
Fremont, IN 46737

Winter Mass Schedule:
Sunday at 9 a.m.
Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Summer Mass Schedule: (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend)

Saturday at 5 p.m.
Sunday at 9 a.m.
Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Eucharistic Adoration: 4th Wednesday every month
6:30-7:30 p.m.


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