EARLY DAYS OF ST. MARY’S
The history of St. Mary’s Parish of Shumway goes back to the year 1870, when the first efforts were made to establish a parish and build a church. The Franciscan Fathers came from Teutopolis to minister to the small group, which would gather at the area homes for Divine Services. Mass was said at the homes of the Schmidt’s, Henry Miller and Henry Klein families.
The year 1879 marked the official beginning of this parish. Tweny-six families under the direction of Fr. Boniface Depmann, O.F.M. constructed the church building, measuring 30ft. by 60ft. for over 75 years. Eight years after it’s dedication, the church was enlarged by an addition of two rooms on the East side, serving as a meeting room and living quarters. This was done while Fr. Fidelis Kaercher, O.F.M. served as Administrator of St. Mary’s Parish.
Bishop Peter J. Baltes of Alton granted his approbation for the new parish, and the Very Rev. John Janssin dedicated the church building May 23, 1870. Fr Boniface performed the first baptisms May 2, 1870 when Anna Mary Lesemeister, Mary Pauline Riczek, Anna Theresa Lesemeister, and Louise Georgiana Endries were made members of the church. Two of these children died not long after their baptism. The first recorded death in the parish was that of Anna Theresa Lesemeister, buried February 13, 1880, at the age of 11 months. Six weeks later, her cousin, Anna Mary Lesemeister followed her death.
On June 14, 1897, Bishop James Ryan of Alton administered the Sacrament of Confirmation for the first time in Shumway. Prior to this, the children were confirmed at St. Francis in Teutopolis, St. Patrick’s in Trowbridge, St. Anthony’s in Effingham, St. Michael’s in Sigel and St. Claire in Altamont.
The first class to receive First Holy Communion was composed of Joseph Reis, Josephine, Reis, Mary Magdaline Steppe, Margaret Greiner and Alexia Jones. This occurred on March 2, 1881.
Fifty-six marriages were blessed in the original church beginning with the marriage of Frederick Mueller and Ann Hattrup on April 5, 1880, and ending with that of Robert Clancey of Peoria and Joan Vonderheide on January 1, 1955.
The last services in the old church were held on Good Friday, April 8, 1955. The last funeral service in the old church was that of Lena Wernsing , and the last child to be baptized in the old church was Deborah Lynn Vail.
From its very beginning in 1874 up until 1888, the Franciscan Fathers from Teutopolis served as Pastors of St. Mary’s. Some parishioners can recall the Good Fathers going from one farm to another on a horse drawn wagon to collect produce and livestock as payments for their services.
For 18 years from 1904 to 1922, Fr. August Forster, then Pastor of St. Joseph’s , Ramsey, Illinois, also attended faithfully to the spiritual nees of St. Mary’s. In those days, Mass was said every other Sunday, Father Forster would take the Nickel Plate Railroad from Ramsey to Stewardson on Friday evening. Usually Albert, Gus, Tony, Earl or Henry Vonderheide would meet him there. If there was was on one to meet him, or if he missed the Wabash Line to Shumway, he would walk the six miles. His usual schedule was to hear confession and say Mass on Saturday and have another Mass on Sunday. Then a Parishioner would take him to Stewarson or Altamont for his return trip by train. He ate a lot of his meals at the Laux’s home.
After Fr. Forster was relived of the Shumway Parish, Fr. Charles C. Sandon, then assisted to Fr. James P. Walsh at Altamont, taking care of St. Mary’s until 1924. Many stories are told of how Fr. Sandon would travel the Wabash railroad by handcar. When he acquired a Ford car, he would drive it on the railroad ties when the roads were impossible.
Assistants from St. Anthony’s Parish and the Hospital took care of St. Mary’s from 1945 to 1948 when Fr. Sandon again took over st. Mary’s of Shumway. His life was brought to a close by the responsibilities for the mission church at Shumway.
The first trustees to be names were Henry Schwarz and August Klein. Their appointments came in 1924. After the death of Mr. Klein in 1939, Albert Zacha was named to fill this position. Mr Schwarz died on February 10, 1973. For many years, Mrs. Schwarz took care of the church linens and the cacristy, Leroy Zacha took his dad’s place in 1981. Ambrose Krueger took Henry Schwartz’s place and Bud Waldhoff replaced Ambrose Krueger.
On November 27, 1949, Bishop William O’Connor of Springfield administered the sacrament of Confirmation for only the second time in Shumway. A supper was served in Shumway’s Town Hall, to the Bishop, all the attending priests, the Confirmation class and their sponsors. Those confirmed were: Clarence, John, and Mabel Habing , Hilda Kaufman, Doris and Leonard Klein, Lena Mae and Patricia Klein, Joann Miller, Donald, Sally and William Springer, Barbara, Elaine and Eugene Vonderheide, James and Robert Vonderheide, Lorrain and Rosemary Vonderheide and Mrs. Henry Greiner.
Groundbreaking services were held on July 12, 1954 for the new church in the presence of many of the parishioners with Fr.Goff turning the first shovel of dirt. Monsignor Daniel Daly. Dean of the Effingham Deanery, officiated at the cornerstone laying ceremony on Sunday, September 19, 1954. On this occasion, Fr. Peter Mascari Preached the sermon. The new building measured 99ft by 34 ft. The church has a full basement, which is used as a Parish Hall. The main floor of the church has a seating capacity of 238, while the Mother’s room and the choir loft together will accommodate about 60 people. Indiana Bedford limestone is used on the exterior. St. Meinrod sandstone decorates the interior walls. The pews, the sanctuary bench, and the kneelers are of oak. The doors and the woodwork in the rear of the church are of African mahogany. The Alter Table was made of Tenessee Pink Marble. The Altar background is made of St. Genevive Pink Marble with an Alico Marble trim Mother and are made of imported German and English antique glass. The communion railing (which was removed) was made of wrought iron with a Tennessee Pink Marble top. It spelled out the salutation “Ava Maria” Hail Mary. Including the purchase of the property and the church furnishings, the estimated cost of the new St. Mary’s Church was $66,000.00. The Catholics of the Shumway, Stewardson, Beecher City area donated many hours of hard work and self-sacrifice so that today and for time to come we may enjoy the beautiful church.
FROM MISSION TO PARISH
On June 23, 1958, the Most Reverend William A. O’Connor, D.d.Bishop of Springfield , established St. Mary’s of the Annunciation Church a parish, and appointed Fr. Edward Kowalski our first Pastor: Sincw we had no rectory or living quarters in Shumway, he was forced to take rooms at the St. Anthony Hospital in Effingham. Every day he came to Shumway for Daily Mass, which was a new, but happy occasion for the Catholics of the area.
The first Baptism after we were established a parish was that of Mark Edward Kemme, son of Don and Marita Kortte Kemme. The first marriage was between Thomas Kemme and Bonnie Phillips.
The first First Communion Class received communion on October 24, 1958, which included Howard Sust, Richard Kaufman, Howard Rentfro, Daniel Zach, Margaret Walters, Alice Wernsing, Martha Dehn, and Linda Butcher.
The first Confirmation Class was confirmed on May 2, 1960, and included Mary Butcher, Linda Butcher, Martha Dehn, Theresa Dust, Margaret Kaufman, Sharon Tegenkamp, Jane Ulhorn, Alice Wernsing, Joan Walters, Monica Walters, Merita Zacha, Helen Yakey, Xehophone Butcher, Michael Curry, Michael Dehn, Raymond Habing, Dale Waldhoff, Caroline Sloan, Barbara Sloan, Mrs. Lorraine Vonderheide, Mrs, Wayne Vonderheide, Mrs. Carl Wakefield, Ronald Doedtman, Howard Dust, Maruice Klein, James Krueger, Randy McKay, Richard Kaufman, James Miller, Howard Rentfro, Charles Vonderheide, Ronald Walters, Michael Zacha, Daniel Zacha and Sherman Yakey.
The first funeral was that of Frank Miller on June 10, 1959.
In 1969, Fr John Colavecchio became pastor of St. Mary’s . In 1981, Fr. Emil Helfrich, O.M.I. replaced Father John and served our parish for 12 years. Then in 1988, Fr. Alexis Pruemer, O.F.M. became our pastor until his death on May 26, 2001. Once again we are being helped by St. Anthony ‘s in Effingham with Monsignor Leo Enlow as our Administrator and Father Bill Kessler attending to our needs with a Saturday 5:30pm. Evening Mass and a Sunday 8:30am Morning Mass.
In the late summer of 1959, the building of a new rectory was started. It was build of Bedford Stone to match the church at an approximate cost of $25, 600.00. Alf Niebrugge built the house. It was completed in the spring of 1960. Final payment on the debt for the church and the house was made on November 27, 1970.
In June 1960, Shumway was struck by a tornado. The roof was torn off the rectory and and garage causing much water damage to the inside. Once again, Father Kowalski was forced to stay at the Hospital until the house could be repaired.
In September of 1976, a new fence was erected at ST. Mary’s Cemetary and new bases were put under the tombstones that needed straightening. The men of the parish donated all labor. During the past years many improvements have been made to the church. In 1981, a new church sign was installed in front of the church. In 1984, Lexan was put on the church windows. The pews were refinished and carpet was installed in 1986. In 1987, a new tractor mower was bought: in 1988 a new garage door and a new roof were put on the rector, also at that time a new furnace and air conditioner was added to the church. The parking lot was paved and enlarged in 1989, and in 1990, the church bathrooms were remodeled. In 1991, a new roof was put on the church: tuck-pointing and new steps in front of the church were added along with the landscaping in 1992. A new cross and statues were placed in the cemetery, remodeling was done in the kitchen and natural gas was installed in 1993. In 1994, the kitchen cabinets were refinished, a new rectory furnace installed, the asphalt circle in front of the church and a new circle driveway in the cemetery were all completed. In 1996, emergency lighting signs in the church and rectory were installed. In 1997, Dr. & Mrs. Peter Kollinger gave the church nine acres of ground. In 1998, city water was connected to the rectory and church. In 1999, we made our church handicap accessible with an elevator on the main floor going up to the church and down to the basement. Selling the nine acres of ground that Dr. Kollinger donated to the church in 1997paid for this project. We also added a new bathroom in the basement and a new choir railing was installed the same year.
In 2002, improvements to the rectory were made which included a new roof, carpeting, paint furniture, draperies and window-well repairs.
In January 2004, a new pitch roof was installed on the church at a cost of $66,396.15, which we hope will last for many years.
In 2011 the rectory was once again used as a home for our priests. Some flooring was replaced as well as the oven in the kitchen, and central air was added. In 2012 repairs were made to the plumbing and the windows were replaced. Finally in 2013, the cracks and leaks in the basement walls of the rectory were repaired.