SS. Peter and Paul Church, Strasburg
"SS. Peter and Paul Church, Strasburg." Emmons County Record, June
1948, 3, 4.
Peter and Paul’s Parish, Strasburg, Emmons County, will observe
the Golden Jubilee of their parish and also the Sixtieth Anniversary
of the arrival of the first settlers in Emmons County by a two-day
celebration, June 22-23. A religious celebration will mark the observance
on June 22, and a civic celebration on June 23.
The religious observance on June 22 will begin with a Solemn Pontifical
High Mass, celebrated by Most Rev. Vincent J. Ryan. A sermon in
the German language will be preached by Right Rev. Abbot Guthbert
Goeb, O.S.B., and a sermon in English by Bishop Ryan. The Most Rev.
William T. Mulloy, Bishop of Covington, Kentucky, will grace the
occasion by his presence in the sanctuary.
Catholic Action meetings will mark the observance in the afternoon.
These will be divided into two sections, a section for the adults
and a section for the young people. Among the speakers who will
participate in the afternoon programs are Most Rev. Vincent J. Ryan,
Most Rev. William T. Mulloy, Right Rev. Abbot Guthbert, Very Rev.
George P. Aberle, and Rev. Blaine Cook.
There are three Strasburgs. The ancestors of the people who settled
in the area of what is now Strasburg, North Dakota, in the 80’s
of the last century originated from the Strasburg area of Germany,
now part of France. From Germany they migrated to south Russia,
in the days of Empress Catherine about 170 years ago, where they
built a city and called it Strasburg. A century later their descendents
came to Emmons County and gave to their new home the name Strasburg.
The first settlers arrived in the neighborhood of what is now Strasburg
in 1888. Five sturdy young men made up the party of trail blazers
who were the first ones to visit the then wild region of Emmons
County where the little city of Strasburg is now located. Their
names were Joseph Baumgartner, Joseph Burgad, Sebastian Bauman,
Joseph Feist, and Joseph Kraft. All have departed from this life,
but their widows are still living and are to us a reminder of how
close we are to the days when the first furrows were turned in Emmons
Many others of the German-Russian group followed the pathfinders,
and in a few short years there was a sizeable community in the neighborhood
of Strasburg. Father Bernard Strassmeier, O.S.B., already in charge
of the Indian Mission of Fort Yates, which was to serve so zealously
for over fifty years, heard of the new colony across the river and
some twenty miles away, and paid them a visit the following year
after their arrival. He offered the first Holy Mass to be said in
the area in the home of Frank Baumgartner in the year 1888. Father
Bernard and his assistant, Father Francis Gerschweyler, were to
serve the new colony during the next three years. As there was no
church, mass was offered in the homes of the settlers.
The State of North Dakota was organized as a diocese in 1889. Bishop
John Shanley, the first bishop of the new diocese, which was called
the Diocese of Jamestown, arrived in the state in 1890. The following
year the care of the Strasburg community was assigned to St. John’s
Parish. McIntosh County, to which Father Henry Smith was appointed
as the first pastor. St. John’s, McIntosh County, is rightly
called the mother church in the area.
In 1893 the first church was erected in the Strasburg area. It
was located 2½ miles east of the present city of Strasburg.
This mission church was attended as a mission of St. John’s
until 1899. Father Benedict Peter, O.S.B., from St. Gall’s
Priory, Devils Lake, was named the first pastor of SS. Peter and
Paul’s Church. He took possession in 1899. Shortly after his
arrival, the first rectory was built adjacent to the Church.
The present SS. Peter and Paul’s imposing brick structure
was started in 1909 during the pastorate of Rev. Aloysius Strigl,
O.S.B. It was completed the following year by his successor, Father
Max Speckmeier, O.S.B., and the first Mass was celebrated at midnight,
Christmas 1910. The church was consecrated by Bishop Wehrle, June
29, 1916. Among the former pastors of SS. Peter and Paul’s
Church were Rev. Joseph Thuille, Rev. Justin Schweitzer, Rev. Anton
Nussbaumer, Rev. Clemet Dimple, and Rev. Augustine Fox—all
members of the Benedictine Order. The present pastor of the parish,
Rev. Charles Daleiden, O.S.B., was appointed to the parish by the
Most Rev. Vincent J. Ryan on August 10, 1947.
Sisters at Strasburg
The people of Strasburg owe a debt of gratitude to the two communities
of sisters, the Ursulines and the School Sisters of Notre Dame,
who have served the parish in the capacity of teachers. These two
communities of nuns have made a great contribution to the educational,
cultural and religious life of the people in Emmons County.
The first Catholic school at Strasburg dates back to November 7,
1910. It began in the basement of SS. Peter and Paul’s Church,
six weeks before the superstructure was completed. Four Ursuline
nuns from Calvariensburg, Germany, were the first teachers. Mother
M. Seraphine, the sole survivor of the first group of Ursulines
now in the Diocese, is still living and resides at St. Agnes Convent,
Kenmare, where she quietly celebrated her golden anniversary a few
years ago. The old church was converted into a convent to house
the sisters and it still serves this purpose.
In a short time the number of pupils became too large to be provided
for in the basement of the Church. In 1918 the present school building
was completed and named St. Benedict’s School. Two years later
a complete high school course was added. The parish is now planning
on extensive improvements in the school building, including a substantial
In 1942 the Ursuline nuns, who were the first sisters at Strasburg,
found it necessary to withdraw their sisters from Strasburg in order
to found a new motherhood in the diocese of Belleville, Illinois.
It was difficult to find sisters to take their place, for the demand
for sisters everywhere is much greater than the supply. The School
Sisters of Notre Dame, who are located at Mankato, Minnesota, finally
agreed to furnish sisters for the school. At the present time the
enrollment of the school is 232.
Three priests now working in the Diocese of Bismarck came from
Strasburg – Fathers George P. Aberle, Wilfred Fischer, and