By Rachel Batdorff
Located on the corner of S.R. 9 on 1000S in the Columbia City country landscape of Whitley County, St. Catherine of Alexandria Church is more commonly associated with — and called — Nix Settlement.
“The settlement title came from a pioneer named Nicholas Nix, who immigrated to the area in 1845,” Father Dale Bauman, pastor of St. Catherine of Alexandria, said. “In 1847, more members from the Nix family arrived, and before a church building was built, Jacob Nix would sometimes hold Mass in his home.”
The first established parish structures came about in 1850 and included a log cabin and cemetery — neither of which is in their present day locations. The original church and cemetery were located on Nicholas Nix’s farm, west of S.R. 9. Unfortunately, in 1860 a fire destroyed the log church, and for several years following, Mass was held at a schoolhouse nearby, Father Bauman said.
In 1868 George Bauer donated land for what is now the present day site of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The following year, 1869, the cornerstone was laid and blessed through a service held in German.
Thirty years later that structure was deemed unsafe, and a new church building was erected in 1899. By that time, services were held in three languages: German, Latin and English.
Today the parish and accompanying cemetery and church hall are located on the corner of S.R. 9 and 1000S. The church building, at 117 years old, is still used for its designated purpose. Several stones from the original cemetery location were glued together and placed in the northeast corner of the plot of the new location, and the cemetery remains active; several Nix family members, including Nicholas Nix, are buried at the site. The plots are laid out grid-style, using letters.
In 1935 the parish had 34 families. Today, St. Catherine of Alexandria varies in size.
“Last week the main floor and choir loft were packed,” Father Bauman said. “The church holds probably 120-135 people. Our members are not just from Columbia City, but all over.”
The parish offers a variety of programs and services every year, and partners with neighboring parishes and protestant churches.
Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 9:15 a.m., followed by every other Thursday at 7 p.m.
Twice a year the congregation collects baby items for Right to Life, and canned food for the food pantry of neighboring parish St. Paul of the Cross. During Christmas time they deliver items to shut-in members of the parish.
The women of St. Catherine host morning reflection times with other Catholic churches during Advent and Lent. Twice a month, the parish provides coffee and donuts for the congregation and during the wintertime, the church provides educational programs for adults. St. Catherine of Alexandria also hosts seven of the surrounding protestant churches for dinner and entertainment.
St. Catherine of Alexandria Church
9989 S. St. Rd. 9
Columbia City, IN 46725
Mass times are:
Sunday, 9:15 a.m.
Every other Thursday 7 p.m.
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