Thursday, 18 October 2012 09:42
Sacred Heart Church dedicated in 1962
Father Michael Peltzer and the St. Joan of Arc parish community celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the current Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Anthony, which took place on Oct. 10, 1962.
A special Mass of Thanksgiving was offered Saturday evening, Oct. 13, which was followed by a festive dinner, catered by parishioner Cheryl Stark and hosted by the ladies of the Sacred Heart Altar Guild.
Around the year 1879, Masses and other services were held in the homes of Catholic families moving into the Anthony area. This was the arrangement until a new frame church building was finished in 1908 at the northwest corner of Washington and Jefferson streets. The church was then a mission to St. Martin Catholic church in Caldwell, until the arrival in 1934 of Father John Wechensky as the first resident pastor.
Father Wechensky saw to the construction of the rectory (now a private home) in 1934 and the new larger frame church which replaced the original one in 1938. At the time both St. Patrick Catholic Church in Harper and St. John Catholic Church in Kiowa were missions attached to Sacred Heart Church.
On Sunday, May 28, 1961, the second frame Sacred Heart Church was destroyed by fire. Father Wechensky and the parishioners then began plans for a new building, the present church.
The new building contained the original pews and the confessional which were crafted by the parishioners. The original life size crucifix now hangs from the balcony above the main entryway.
Succeeding Father Wechensky, who died suddenly in the parish rectory on Nov.10, 1967, were Fathers Victor Bieberle, Phillip White, John Moeder, C.F. Colbert, William Wheeler, Robert Smith, John Zich, and Charles Middleton. Father Smith supervised the renovation of the church interior in 1980, which consisted of new pews, a new altar, a new baptismal font, and a new pulpit. He was also in charge of St. Patrick Catholic church in Harper.
A much needed parish hall was built in 1985. The addition consists of four classrooms, a large kitchen, restrooms, a large storage area, and the fellowship hall for nearly 250 persons.
The former rectory, which is now a private home, was sold a year later because the pastor was also in charge of Immaculate Conception in Danville and St. Patrick in Harper, where he established a residence and parish office in the Harper rectory.
Shortly after Father Robert Hartmann’s arrival in 1993, he was asked by the Bishop in Wichita to begin a study among the Catholic parishioners in Anthony, Harper and Danville as to what can be done to the ever growing problem of the shortage of priests.
It was a very difficult time for the Catholics in Harper County; many meetings were conducted and several hard decisions had to be considered. It was decided by late 1996 that only one parish instead of three would better serve the Catholics in the area. By July 1, 1997, with the approval of the bishop, the three Catholic parishes of St. Patrick in Harper, Immaculate Conception in Danville, and Sacred Heart in Anthony were all merged into the one parish called “St. Joan of Arc.” Much to the joy and relief of the parishioners in all three places, the three churches would continue to be open, used and maintained as the three worship sites in the one new parish.
The present pastor, Father Michael Peltzer, arrived on Aug. 2, 1998. Since then, and with the help of many of his parishioners, a new sound system was installed, the air conditioning system was updated, the church interior was redecorated, a new roof was placed on both the church and hall, and a new sidewalk was laid in front of the building for reasons of safety.