St. Anthony Catholic Church celebrates
its centennial; Bishop Zipfel gives homily

"St. Anthony Catholic Church celebrates its centennial; Bishop Zipfel gives homily." Emmons Country Record, 23 June 2011, 1, 4, 5.

The KC Hall was packed for the centennial dinner held Saturday evening. A dance was held later in the evening.

The St. Anthony Parish Centennial events on Saturday drew several hundred present and past members as well as priests and nuns who served in Linton in years past.

Bishop Paul A. Zipfel of the Bismarck Diocese celebrated the special 4 p.m. Mass and delivered the homily.

Bishop Zipfel greeted the crowd and congratulated them on the centennial of St. Anthony Parish. The theme of his homily was the importance of people rather than buildings.

“We gather today to celebrate the awesome reality that the God of majestic and immensity has bent down to meet his people for the last one hundred years in this community of St. Anthony in Linton,” he said. “It is a place where you have come not so much for answers, as to raise up and clarify your questions in the light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.”

Bishop Zipfel recounted the church’s history, starting with the first resident priest, the Benedictine Father Andrew Kolbeck in 1915 and noting the construction of the current church in 1926.

“As beautiful as this church is, with its stones and glass, wood and metal, weavings and artistry, even more beautiful are the living temples of flesh and blood, sinew and spirit, memory and imagination,” Bishop Zipfel said. “The question is what sort of temple does this temple make of us? Can we say sincerely with St. Paul that our “whole structure... is taking shape as a holy temple in the Lord... that we are becoming a dwelling space for God in the Spirit?’”

He said each of us is a shrine, a sacred place.

“You are a temple of God. Temples of stone make no sense without temples of flesh. Empty church buildings are only museums with blessed memories,” Bishop Zipfel said.

Bishop Zipfel recalled a visit he made to a giant sequoia forest in California where he learned the roots of the sequoia are very shallow.

“That was a surprise to me and others. How in the world could such gigantic trees stand up with shallow roots? Why, the first wind would knock them over like bowling pins,” he noted.

The guide replied, “You’re right. But you see, sequoias interconnect their roots and their branches so that when there is a fierce wind they interlock and support each other. That’s why they don’t fall.”

Bishop Zipfel added, “I suggest that’s a good image for this congregation.”

In closing, Bishop Zipfel emphasized what the church symbolizes and asked if he had strayed too far from the purpose of the centennial gathering.

“Not if we recall what the church symbolizes. Not if we recall St. Paul’s, ‘You are God’s building.’ No if we recall that you and I are part of that temple. Not if we recall that we too are called to be holy, that we are commanded to love each temple of flesh and blood as Jesus loved. Not if we recall that we are called to touch each facet of God’s creation with reverence, with awe, as a gift of God. Not if we recall that we are called to become salt and light for the world and times a sign of contradiction that challenges and transforms the world according to the mind of Christ.”

St. Anthony Pastor Rev. David Richter thanked Bishop Zipfel for his homily and for joining the congregtion in the centennial celebration.

He recognized and thanked the visiting priests and nuns and invited everyone to the church dinner and evening dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

In honor of Bishop Zipfel’s upcoming retirement after 50 years in the priesthood, the choir started “The Blessing Song,” with the congregation joining them. He bowed as he received the blessing.

Concelebrants were St. Anthony Pastor Rev. David Richter, Deacon Ken Wolbaum and former pastors Rev. Richard Colbert (Associate Pastor, 1969-71), Rev. Bill Miller, C.PP.S. (who served the church from 1978-88), Rev. Jeffrey Zwack (1993-98), Rev. Bruce Krebs (1998-2003) and Rev. Austin Vetter, who grew up in the St. Michael’s Church.

Others involved in the Mass include: Lector, John J. Knox; Mass Servers, Seminarian Corey Nelson, David Beitelspacher and Wyatt Nagel; Gift Bearers, Patty Rohrich and her daughters, Jenna and Madison Bosch, and Ushers, Mike Wickenheiser, Jack Nagel, Alex Jahner and Ralph Feist.

Choir members include John Jangula, Doug Bichler, Bridget Bemis, Martha Glatt, Diane Wangler, Brandon Weber, Brady Weber, Bobbie Jo Brindle, Shawna Paul, John Horner, Virginia Horner, Connie Job, Pianist Catherine Unger, Organist Denice Kautz and Director Diane Nagel.

Church history

The St. Anthony wooden church was built in 1911 where the current church is located.
The first Catholic people in the Linton area only occasionally saw a priest of heard Mass. As far as can be determined, the first Mass was celebrated by Father Joseph Thuile, O.S.B., during November, 1899 at the Peter Schweitzer home in “Old Town,” Father Thuile, on his way to Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Strasburg, sought housing for the night in Linton. Having heard that a newly married couple had recently moved into Linton from Hague, he stayed there. The following morning he celebrated Mass with them. No other Mass was celebrated in Linton for the next several years.

Linton grew slowly. In 1901, on Easter Sunday, the Frank Joseph Meier family came to Linton from South Dakota in a wagon, this making two Catholic families. Occasionally, Father Bernard Strassmeier, O.S.B., came across the Missouri River from Fort Yates to celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments. These services took place in homes, in the Court House, in The Franklin School or wherever convenient. Frank Joseph Meier, Sr., had an apple box which usually served as the alter. This apple box, candles, a crucifix and a white table cloth were kept in the Meier home and were taken to the place wherever Mass was celebrated. At other times the people would travel by wagon or on horseback to Sts. Peter and Paul Church or St. Bernard for Mass.

In 1907, a church was built at Rosenthal, nine miles southeast of Linton, and dedicated to the Sacred Heart. It was destroyed by a severe storm in August of 1908. By snowfall, the parishioners had rebuilt it. It served the people of the area until the end of 1963 when it was closed.

The priests from St. Aloysius and Rosenthal cared for Linton until the later part of 1920 when the Benedictines from Strasburg began serving.

St. Anthony Parish records began in 1909. The first baptism administered was Wendelin Schneider, the son of Wendelin Schneider and Katherin Burgad, February 13, 1910; the first marriage recorded was Nicholas Bohn and Elizabeth Meier on November 9, 1909. Both were administered by Father Herman Decker, pastor of St. Aloysius. The first Catholic funeral, was Alma E. Havlich in October of 1904. The funeral took place in the Methodist Church, which was the first church in Linton. Father Bernard Strassmeier celebrated the Mass, and Frank Meier served.

Toward the latter part of 1920 the Benedictine Fathers of Strasburg began serving Linton. The parish records contain the names of Fathers Basil Thum, Max Speckmeier, Peter Fehrenbach, Max Engle and Bishop Wehrle.

Construction of the present-day brick church is shown along with the bell for the tower in 1926. The bell is still in use today, ringing (using a timer) three times per day at 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m., a reminder for parishioners to pray theAngelus prayer. The bell also tolls for funerals, before each Mass and special events. (Note: The wooden church roof can be seen in the background.)

By 1911, Linton had grown large enough to warrant a permanent church. Father Max Speckmeier was in charge of the construction. Mass was first offered in the church in January 1912. There’s no indication that the church was ever blessed. The first Catholic Church, under the patronage of St. Anthony, was built of wood and measured 40x60 feet. It was built on the same site as the present church. When plans for the present church were in the making, the old church was moved to the rear of the block. After the new church was finished, the old church was sold, moved across the street and remodeled for a home. Soon after the first church had been built a bell was purchased by John Bosch. The church had no tower, so the bell was placed on a platform raised off the ground a few feet in front of the church. When the new church was built, the same bell was placed in the tower of the new church and is the same bell which today calls the parishioners to worship.

The first marriage to take place in this church was Paul Martin and Megdalena Meier on July 22, 1912.

Father Morris Engel replaced Father Speckmeier in September 1913 and served until April 1915. Father Kolbeck, O.S.B., arrived in April 1915.

In 1915, the parish decided to build a rectory, in order to provide a priest with a permanent residence and to assure itself of daily Mass and the reception of the Sacraments more frequently. To build the rectory every family was asked to give $100 and donate three days of labor.

Father Andrew Kolbeck, O.S.B., occupied the rectory as soon as it was completed in 1915, becoming the first resident pastor. He was also appointed to take care of Sacred Heart (Rosenthal) which at the time had more people than St. Anthony. During Father Kolbeck’s pastorate, a plot of ground north of town was purchased for a cemetery. Up to this time, Catholics were buried in the Linton Cemetery. In 1952, another acre of ground was annexed south of the original plot to insure ample space for the future.

Father Kolbeck didn’t remain long in Linton, for in July of 1916 the bishop appointed Father Joseph Sailer pastor Father Sailer worked here until 1921. During the pastorate of Father Sailer, St. Anthony was canonically erected as a parish by Bishop Wehrle. The document shows that this was done December 11, 1919. By next spring the parish had grown to 68 families. The records show in 1919 the sacraments of baptism was administered to 24 people, 45 were confirmed and eight couples were married, and Holy Communion was received 2,495 times. This is the first record of Confirmation having been administered in Linton.

In the spring of 1919, because of the scarcity of priests in the Bismarck Diocese, Bishop Wehrle called on the Precious Blood Fathers to come to his assistance. Consequently, Father Otto Weber, C.PP.S., was appointed pastor in Linton, with Sacred Heart as a mission. During his pastorate of almost nine years, many changes took place. The Catholic Community of Linton now consisted of over 120 families and it was apparent to everyone that a largest church was needed.

Work on the new church began August 12, 1925. The building measured 122 1/2 feet by 46 feet. The structure was dedicated on October 6, 1926. Cost of the church was about $45,000 by Bishop Wehrle.

In 1933 the first bazaar was held in St. Anthony Parish. Although less than $1,000 was cleared, a bazaar was held.

Thoughts of building their own parochial grade school has been entertained in the minds of the parishioners of Linton. But due to the war and scarcity of building materials, such thoughts had to be buried for the war’s duration. In 1945, however, the idea of a parochial school was again unearthed. Early in the same year the old Emmons County Courthouse was advertised “for sale” and a bid was submitted by the parish. With that, the parish had bought itself a school. Moving the building was a major undertaking.

The convent building was brought from Ellendale. To facilitate moving this large building, it was cut in half. Although it was lacking many necessities for the priests and the Sisters of the Precious Blood (Dayton, Ohio), who arrived on August 27, 1945, the fall-term of the 1945-1946 school year began. On September 2 the first registration was held and 65 registered, but by opening day on September 10 the number had increased to 99. Hectic work continued on renovation of the convent, and on November 22 the sister moved in. The first Precious Blood Sisters to staff the St. Anthony School were Sisters Rosetta, Ferdinanda, Doreen, Pius and Zena.

The first graduation of St. Anthony School was June 2, 1946. Eight students graduated, two of whom became Sisters of the Most Precious Blood.

Arthur Grevenkamp had an idea that the community of Linton could use and should have a hospital. The town was without one ever since the “clinic-hospital” in the Stone Apartments was discontinued. After much work, a board was formed and incorporated in March, 1948. Father Grevenkamp was transferred long before the grand opening on October 26, 1953. For almost nine years the hospital was staffed by 7-9 Franciscan Sisters fro Tiffin, Ohio. For several years it had its own chapel where Mass was celebrated and from which Holy Communion was brought to the patients. The priests of St. Anthony minister to the spiritual needs of the Linton Community Hospital.

In April, 1947, Father Martin was replaced by Father Joseph Biegler, C.PP.S.
By 1950 the basement of the school building, which had been used as a recreation room for the children, was now needed, for the number of children in the school had increased to such an extent that another classroom was necessary. Therefore, it was decided to build a gym where the children might play during inclement weather in winter and also to have more room for parish activities. The contract was signed October 23, 1950. Construction of the steel-ribbed, corrugated steel covered building was started in November. This building was to become the gym of St. Anthony Auditorium. This building was blessed by His Excellency, Vincent J. Ryan on October 7, 1951. This building is presently the Linton Knights of Columbus Hall.

Father Charles Meyer, C.PP.S., who began his duties in September, 1955, the problem of too small a school for the number of children. The situation came about by the ever increasing grade school children and the opening of St. Anthony High School in the fall of 1956.

On Feb. 14, 1957, early in the morning, with the ringing of the bells, singing and laughter, the children marched into the new school building. The new school building is a one=story structure featuring a large amount of glass-brick in the north and south walls for adequate light. The building is 149 1/2 feet long and 85 feet wide. Ten classrooms, an office, storeroom, washrooms, library and furnace room were found within the walls of the building. The large wide corridor made for easy access and evacuation. On May 5, 1957, the Most Reverend Hilary Hacker, the new Bishop of Bismarck, visited Linton for the first time and bless the new school. This building is currently known as St. Anthony Parish Center.

The fall of 1959 saw a record enrollment in the St. Anthony Schools, making the combined schools the largest education system in Emmons County. That following spring the first high school graduation took place.

For the next seven years St. Anthony High School continued to operate and contribute to the educational, civic and spiritual growth of Linton. Circumstances forced the high school to close and merge with St. Benedict High School of Strasburg in the fall of 1966, thus forming the Emmons Central High School. The grade school continued two years longer, through the spring of 1968. 

With the closing of St. Anthony High School in 1966 and St. Anthony Grade School in 1968, religious education programs had to become a high priority for the parish. St. Anthony Center became the scene of religious education programs for St. Anthony and St. Bernard adults, teens and children.

A momentous event for the parish occurred on August 29, 1981, when Martin Schumacher was ordained a Permanent Deacon with the first Permanent Diaconate class ordained in the Diocese by Bishop Hilary Hacker. Bishop Hacker gave him St. Anthony Parish as his ministry assignment.

There have been many building and grounds projects throughout the years. In October, 1966, a spacious three car garage was built replacing the structure which had been in use for 50 years. For many years there was talk of a new rectory for the priests. During the fall of 1971 the Parish Council formed a building committee to draw up plans. Reality took place in April, 1972 with ground breaking. The memorable moving day was September 21, 1972. The rectory also serves as the offices for the priests and secretary. The most recent change of the church was the addition to the entrance on Broadway street. The addition has on elevator and spacious gathering space.

Throughout the history of the parish, church beautifying and updating was a continual effort. In the spring and summer of 1970, an extensive remodeling of the church took place. This was to enhance the celebration of the liturgy as revised during the Vatican II Council. This is the church in which we all worship today. Other improvements to the church include the installation of hanging fans, insulation over the church ceiling, partial tuck pointing on the exterior walls and then the sandblasting, replastering, repainting of the interior walls and ceiling in 1980. The new carpeting, refinishing of the pews, plus new kneelers, were part of this renovation. A new organ was purchased in 1984 and a new sound system in 1988. The church basement was carpeted and painted in early roadway was put in the cemetery and trees were planted around the west and north sides of the cemetery in 1991. A new front entrance and fence were put up in 1992.

The St. Anthony Religious Education Center houses the overall religious education coordinator, grade school coordinator and their secretary. The Center has also been open for diocesan teacher training programs, Ecumenical activities and other Linton Community projects, such as: the Summer Head-Start Program, the Jaycee Kindergarten and Nursery School, Linton Hospital Workshops, Red Cross, Mental Health and Social Action Meetings. In the fall of 1991 three rooms were renovated to be rented to “My Favorite Place Daycare, Inc.” The only major improvement done to the Center was having the roof replaced in the summer of 1987 at which time the sky lights were also eliminated. The north walls have been insulated and paneled over to keep out the cold during the winter months and the heat out during the summer months.

After serving the people of the Linton area and the Bismarck Diocese for 72 years, the Precious Blood Fathers are proud of their accomplishments and growth in the Catholic Faith which they nurtured. It’s with sadness, but also with pride, that they turn over their ministry to Father Jeff Zwack and the Diocesan priests of the Bismarck Diocese. Through the Precious Blood Companions, they hope to have a continuing influence on the Catholic Faith of Emmons County.

A Departure Celebration for the Precious Blood Community was July 18, 1993. Bishop John Kinney, Precious Blood Provincial Director Father Tom Albers, C.PP.S., and a number of Precious Blood priests who served in North Dakota gather here for the day.

Former pastors

Former Pastors include Rev. Andrew Kolbeck, O.S.B, 1915-1916; Rev. Joseph Sailer, 1916-1921; Rev. Otto Weber, C.PP.S., 1921-1930; Rev. Evaristus J. Olberding, C.PP.S., 1930-1942; Rev. John Martin, C.PP.S., 1942-1947; Rev. Joe Biegler, C.PP.S., 1947-1955; Rev. Charles Meyer, C.PP.S., 1955-1965; Rev. Samual Homsey, C.PP.S., 1965-1968; Rev. Bernard Diekhoff, C.PP.S., 1968-1978; Rev. Bill Miller, C.PP.S., 1978-1988; Rev. Ron Will, C.PP.S., 1988-1993; Rev. Jeffrey Zwack, 1993-1998; Rev. Bruce Krebs, 1998-2003; Rev. Kenneth Phillips, 2003-2006, and Rev. Gary Benz, 2006-2010.

The current Pastor is Rev. David Richter, 2010-present.

Associate Pastors include Rev. John Kuhn, 1942-1943; Rev. Otto Diller, 1943-1944; Rev. Michael Spegele, 1944-1946; Rev. Art Grevenkamp, 1946-1949; Rev. Francis Spanbauer, 1949-1952; Vic Kreinbrink, 1952-1955; Rev. Urban Dumminger, 1955-1956; Rev. Paul Becquet, 1956-1961; Rev. Leo Herber, 1959-1960; Rev. Leo Matusicky, 1959-1961; Rev. Tom Conway, 1961-1966; Rev. Greg Dues, 1966-1968; Rev. Dennis Schaab, 1968-1969; Rev. Richard Colbert, 1969-1971; Rev. Leo Brand, 1971-1973; Rev. Linus Evers, 1973-1976; Rev. Bill Walter, 1976-1977; Rev. Mike Wuebker, 1977-1979; Rev. Bill Hubmann, 1979-1981; Rev. Jim Betzen, 1981-1983; Rev. Gerry Richmeier, 1983-1987; Rev. Ron Will, 1987-1988; Rev. Chris Ostmeyer, 1988-1992; Rev. Austin Herrmann, 1992-1994; Rev. Jacob Parumthanil, 1993-1994; Rev. Jacob Konath, 1994-1995; Rev. Mathew Arackal, 1995-1997; Rev. Berchmans Konnully, 1997-1998; Rev. Gade Show Reddy, 1998-2000; Rev. Frank Schuster, 2000-2001 and Rev. Shannon Lucht, 2001-2002.

This is a current picture of St. Anthony Catholic Church taken by Leon Beitelspacher.

The church building was completed October 26, 1926, with a size of 122.5 feet x 46 feet for a total cost of $45,000. An architect in 2001 estimated the cost to build it again at $2.4 million.

Cooks for the church’s centennial dinner are Rosalind Leier, left, and Geraldine Goldade, both of Hague.

Sisters who taught at St. Anothony Catholic School and who attended the celebration are sister Rita Rogier of Oregon, Ohio, Left, and Sister Mary Lou Schmersal of Temperance, Mich. They are Precious Blood Sisters.

Construction of the brick church started on August 12, 1925, and stopped October 26, 1925, for the winter. Construction resumed April 26, 1926. The photo shows the laying of the cornerstone on October 4, 1925.

Pictured before the St. Anthony Catholic Church Centennial Mass on Saturday afternoon are, left to right, Rev. Austin Vetter, Rev. Bruce Krebs, Rev Jeff Zwack, Mass Server Wyatt Nagel, Bishop Paul A. Zipfel, Seminarian and Mass Server Corey Nelson, Rev. Richard Colbert, Mass Server David Beitelspacher, Rev. Bill Miller, Deacon Ken Wolbaum and St. Anthony Pastor Rev. David Richter. Rev. Miller was the last member of the Precious Blood Order to serve St. Anthony's and Father Zwack was the first Diocesan priest to serve. (Photos by Leon Beitelspacher.)

Members of the St. Anthony Choir are, back row, left to right, John Jangula, Doug Bichler, Bridget Bemis, Martha Glatt and Diane Wangler; middle row, Brandon Weber, Brady Weber, Bobbie Jo Brindle, Shawna Paul and Director Diane Nagel; front, John Horner, Virginia Horner, Pianist Catherine Unger, Connie Job and Organist Denice Kautz.

Reprinted with permission from The Kulm Messenger.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller