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DIAMOND JUBILEE
1863 - 1938
ST. AUGUSTINE CHURCH
Pittsburgh, PA


St. Augustine's Church is now (2011) known as Our Lady of the Angels. It is located on 37th Street, Lawrenceville, PA



(Contributed March, 2011 by Nancy J. Smith, nangelbuddy@com-nospam-cast.net)


(Continued)




1863-1938                                                                 ST. AUGUSTINE'S  PARISH HISTORY                                                                         Page 19       



HISTORY OF SAINT AUGUSTINE'S PARISH


CHAPTER II


The Church—1863
Blessed art thou in the holy temple of thy glory.—Dan. Ill, 53.


  On April 20, 1860, the German Catholics of Lawrenceville under their three leaders, August Hoeveler, Alexander Wirth and Louis Unverzagt, adopted a series of resolutions to govern their organization. Article XV of the resolution reads:

  Resolved; that after all is settled regarding the property, we call a general parish meeting of all German Roman Catholics of this community, and also seek the presence of a priest to approve these Statutes.(1)

  Whether or not the committee applied for a Redemptorist Father and found none available is nowhere stated. But not long after the adoption of the resolution we find the Reverend George Kircher, a diocesan priest, directing the affairs of the Lawrenceville Gemeinde. The role thus played by Father Kircher was so vital to the development of St. Augustine's Parish, that he must be looked upon as the real organizer of the parish. A brief biography of this zealous priest will not be out of place.

  George Kircher was born on August 19, 1830, in Weissenhorn, Bavaria, and was the son of George Kircher, a master rope-maker, and Josepha Kurz. In 1850, he finished his classical studies in Dilligen, on the Danube, and began the study of philosophy in the University of Munich. From 1851-1854 he studied law, graduating on October 19. 1854, when he was admitted to the bar and to civil service. But instead of following the legal profession, he took up the study of theology at the University of Tubingen.

  Professor Hefele, one of the teachers, who later became Bishop of Rottenburg, attests that Kircher was a model student and worthy of all praise. In his final examination at the university young Kircher received the highest mark. After two years in the clerical seminary from 1856-58, he was ordained priest on May 19, 1858, by Bishop Michael of Deinlein in the seminary chapel of Dillingen. Ten days later he was appointed second curate at Kirchheim. Such a prompt appointment was quite extraordinary in view of the large number of newly ordained priests, and was intended as a distinction for the young neophyte. On October 1, 1858, the young priest left Kirchheim to become second curate in the urban parish of Oettingen.

  But Father Kircher was not content to remain in the well-regulated service of his diocese. The urge to serve the missions in America prompted him on October 6, 1858, to apply to his Bishop for permission to withdraw from parish work and to spend a year in Munich studying theology and languages in preparation for missionary work abroad. This petition was granted on October 8, 1859, one year after it had been filed. In the meantime the Bishop of Pittsburgh had accepted the young priest for missionary work among the Germans of his diocese. All that was wanting now was the permission of his own Bishop of Augsburg. This was granted on December 3, 1859, with the provision that the applicant receive the necessary per-



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(1) Statutes for the German Roman Catholic Church and School Committee in Lawrenceville, Allegheny Co., Pa., N.A. Only a fragment of this old document is preserved in the parish archives.

 



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mits from the government, that he retain his citizenship and also the right to the government pension in case he should return to Bavaria.(2)

  Rev. George Kircher came to America in the early part of 1860, and was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Church at Riceville. The Baptismal Register bears his first entry dated March 25, 1860, and also his last made on March 1, 1863. Just how he first came in touch with the German Catholics of Lawrenceville is not known, but the Announcement Book of St. Philomena's has the following notice on April 17, 1861: "The Rev. Pastor of Riceville asks us to announce that the Catholics of Lawrenceville will meet this evening at five o'clock." This marks the beginning of a series of fifteen meetings held sometimes twice a month till June 15, 1862. Father Kircher presided at all the meetings save one, which shows that by now the Redemptorists had ceased active interest in the prospective parish of Lawrenceville.

  The work of Father Kircher began in the meeting which he called for April 7, 1861. On this occasion Mr. August Hoeveler gave a complete financial report of the Gemeinde and Messrs. Henry Engel, George Fleckenstein and Landelin Vogel were appointed to audit the account and to report in the next meeting. Since all were anxious to have Mass said in Lawrenceville, they discussed ways and means to secure this objective. Some thought that the dwelling on the parish property, originally proposed for a school but now rented, might be vacated and turned into a temporary church. Father Kircher, however wisely discountenanced any unnecessary temporizing or useless spending and recommended the building of a church. Accordingly, Messrs. August Hoeveler, Gabriel Weisser and Xaver Burkhardt were appointed a building committee with Mr. Jacob Dietz as treasurer.

  In the meantime some of the Lawrenceville people began to attend Father Kircher's church at Riceville and on June 30, 1861, a group of Lawrenceville children were in his first communion class. Mr. John Haas, a pioneer member of St. Augustine's and a member of this first communion class, relates that on the morning of the first communion, Maximilian Werder, teacher in the "Alley School", who was to take the Lawrenceville class to Holy Trinity Church in Riceville, overslept so that they arrived too late and had to receive after the Mass.(3)

  One of the first recommendations of Father Kircher after assuming charge of the Lawrenceville Germans was to instruct the executive committee of three, Messrs. Hoeveler, Wirth and Unverzagt, to report to the Bishop of the diocese and transfer to him the deed of the parish property. The first to approach the Bishop and sign the transfer was August Hoeveler. His example was soon followed by Louis Unverzagt. The last to comply was Alexander Wirth and only after two reminders from Father Kircher. Mr. Wirth explained that he hesitated because a certain clause in the deed did not seem sufficiently clear. He referred to the significant provision: "that he, the Right Rev. Michael Domenec.. . . shall hold the said lot or piece of ground for the use and benefit of a Roman Catholic Congregation and shall keep on said lot or piece of ground a R. C. Church, schoolhouse and pastoral residence whenever the means for erecting and keeping the same shall be supplied him or them by the said congregation and also on the following condition to wit: that so long as and at any time the German Catholics of said congregation can supply their own pastor they may have instruction in the German language." (4) Mr. Wirth apparently desired a stronger guarantee that a German priest would always be appointed to the parish.

  However, practically everyone else was satisfied with the Bishop's agreement. In the early part of July, 1861, a petition signed by more than a hundred persons had been addressed to the Bishop asking permission to build a church for the German Catholics, and when the Bishop proffered no prompt reply, a committee composed of August Hoeveler, Alexander Wirth, Louis Unverzagt, Gabriel Weisser and Landelin Vogel, ap-



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(2) Letter dated Aug. 27, 1921, from archivist of the diocese of Augsburg. Parish archives. Cf. St. Aug., Dec., 1921, pp. 1-3.
(3) St. Aug., Dec., 1921, p. 3.
(4) Deed Book, vol. 152, p. 140, Sept. 18, 1861  St. Aug., Nov., 1921, pp. 3-4.   In this quotation Italics mine.




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peared before the Bishop to plead the same cause, stressing especially the request for a German priest. With the assistance of Father Stibiel, the Bishop's Consultor, the desired permission was obtained, and Mr. John Mitchel, the Bishop's legal representative, inserted into the deed a clause to this effect. The latter had also explained in German the meaning of the important clause, namely, that as long as the people could support a priest, the Bishop would give them a German-speaking priest.

  What more need be demanded? Seeing that all others deemed the guarantee sufficiently firm, Mr. Wirth finally signed the deed and the complete transfer to the Bishop was accomplished on September 4, 1861. In keeping with the State Law that a church elect one or more trustees to represent the interests of the parish, Father Kircher, following the Catholic custom that invests trusteeship in the Bishop of the diocese, suggested that the parish legally approve of Bishop Michael Domenec as trustee of the parish. Accordingly, a petition was prepared and signed by Father Kircher and the representatives of the parish and sent to the Bishop.

  After these preliminaries Father Kircher turned his attention to the school problem. He was not satisfied with the "Alley School". Not only was its location unfavorable, but it was also too small and greatly in need of repairs. In the meeting of September 29, 1861, August Hoeveler had proposed to build a frame school measuring approximately 20 to 24 feet in width, and by 40 to 50 feet in length, and 15 feet high. Since the present school was not worth repairing, this proposal was accepted unanimously, and Mr. Charles Bartberger, architect, was commissioned to sketch the plans so that work could start promptly. Mr. John Lamke-meyer, the lowest bidder, was awarded the contract and he and his crew worked so efficiently that by December 15, 1861, the school was ready for occupancy. The cost was $620.00. This new school stood just in the rear of the present hall and faced Thirty-seventh Street.
 
   The children probably moved into their new school in January, 1862. Eighty pupils were enrolled in four grades taught by Mr. John Kraus. The school hours lasted from 8:30 to 11:00, and from 1:00 to 4:00. The curriculum consisted of catechism, Bible history, reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, singing, grammar and letter-writing. These branches were taught in German, but English reading and writing were also taught. Each child was taxed fifty cents monthly for the support of the school. With the new building and with Father Kircher's supervison the school entered upon a new era. Not only did the number of pupils increase steadily, but the academic standard kept pace with its growth.(5)

  In erecting the school both Father Kircher and the people had in mind the prospect of using it for Mass on Sundays sparing the parishioners that long journey either to St. Philomena's or to Holy Trinity. However, as the funds were low and no provision had been made for altar, pews and organ, a supper was given in Mozart's Hall on January 2 and netted $320.00. In the meantime an altar had been procured for $30.00, an organ for $90.00 and a gallery built for $30.00. Mr. John Lamkemeyer constructed the gallery and the pews. In the meeting of January 12, 1862, Father Kircher announced to the joy of all that the Bishop had granted him permission to conduct services in the school on Sundays and holy days. On January 26, 1862, the following announcement was made in St. Philomena's Church: "The Rev. Pastor of Riceville asks us to announce that next Sunday at ten o'clock services will be held in the school at Lawrenceville."(6)

  Accordingly, Father Kircher offered the first Mass in the large schoolroom on February 2, 1862. Since a choir had been trained, a high Mass was sung. In the afternoon Vespers were chanted. A letter dated November 18, 1921, and written by a member of the parish, refers to those pioneer days as follows:

  I moved to Lawrenceville in 1862, or the month following the explosion (Sept. 17) at the arsenal. I went to St. Augustine's school which was church



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(5) St. Aug., Feb., 1922, p. 11.
(6)  Announcement Book, 1862.






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and school combined. Folding doors separated the altar from the room during school hours. It was very small and located on a hill. Our teacher was Mr. Kraus whom we all liked.(7)

  From now on Mass was celebrated in the school every Sunday. This necessitated the appointment of another priest to assist Father Kircher who as pastor of Holy Trinity in Riceville could ill afford to be absent from his parish every Sunday. On the motion of Mr- Gabriel Weisser, Messrs. Xaver Burkhardt and Jacob Dietz approached the Bishop with the request to appoint an assistant to Father Kircher. The Bishop, however, declined to appoint an assistant but instead appointed Father John Stibiel,(8) pastor of St. Mary's, Allegheny, to be responsible either in person or through his local assistants,(9) for the Sunday services at St. Augustine's. From now on this good priest or one of his assistants came regularly to say Mass m the school, while Father Kircher attended to all other affairs of the young parish. In the meeting of February 21, 1862, Father Kircher declared that under present circumstances he could no longer supervise the affairs of the parish without some compensation, hence he requested an annual salary of $50.00. The committee gladly assented, Air. August Hoeveler offering to pay $25.00 from his own pocket.(10).

  The school now built and provision made for regular services, Father Kircher and the committee concentrated on the erection of the church. Even while contemplating the building of the school, Father Kircher had given thought to the church and as early as September 29, 1861, had authorized the architect, Charles Bartberger, to sketch the plans. After making corrections Father Kircher obtained the approval of the committee in the meeting of October 3, of the same year. On the same occasion, at the suggestion of Mr. Landelin Vogel, St. Augustine was chosen as patron of the parish. This was done, according to information furnished by pioneer members, out of deference to Mr. Augustine Hoeveler who from the beginning was the prime mover in the formation of the parish. Later, when the Capuchin Fathers took over the parish, the name of the church naturally suggested itself as a title for the Capuchin Province of Pennsylvania. In this way Mr. Augustine Hoeveler has been doubly honored.(11)

  In the meeting of January 12, 1862, a building association had been founded the members of which pledged themselves to pay no less than ten cents monthly. The



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(7) Letter of Mrs. Lisetta Besselman in St. Aug., Feb., 1922, p. 6.
(8) Born at Cryon, near Trieste, Austria about 1820.   Ordained about 1849.   Came to the United States about 1850 and took charge of St. Mary's Church, Allegheny, a position he held until his death on Jan..19, 1869.  Previous to 1859 he acted as the bishop's secretary for the Germans of the diocese and then as their Vicar General. Cf. Lambing, Catholic Historical Researches, Jan., 1886, p. 94. Catholic Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, pp. 166-168;  Foundation Stones of  a  Great  Diocese,  p. 243. Die St. Marien-Gemeinde in der Stadt, Allegheny, Pa., 1898, pp. 27-29. Lambert Daller,  O.S.B., Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee of St. Mary's Church, N. S., Pittsburgh,  1848-1923, pp.'26-32. George Schoener, M.A., Fiftieth Anniversary and Dedication of the New St. Cecilia's Church, Rochester, Pa., 1906, pp. 16-18.
(9) The following curates probably said Mass at St. Augustine's before the appointment of the first pastor: Rev. Ignatius Carl Reiser. Born Feb. 2, 1828, at Steinberg, Wuerttemberg, Germany. Came to the United States on Oct. 25, 1855. Ordained on Jan. 9, 1856, at Erie, Pa. Curate to Fr. Stibicl from Nov., 1857-July, 1868, when appointed pastor of St. Joseph's, Allegheny. Remained here till Jan. 15, 1873. Died at Durand, Wis., on March 29, 1899. Cf. Enzlberger, Schematismus, Milwaukee, 1892, p. 138; Msgr. Joseph Suehr. A Short History of SS. Peter and Paul's Church, E. E., Pittsburgh, 1909, p. 15; Lambing, Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, p. 176; Balthasar Gerold, Golden Jubilee of St. Joseph's Church, N. S., Pittsburgh, 1917, pp. 18, 43, 44.
Rev. Michael Eigner. Ordained in Wheeling, 1859 but soon became curate to Fr. Stibiel. Died in Mercy Hospital on April 7, 1862. Cf. Catholic Directory, Milwaukee, 1900. in unpaged Necrology.
Rev. Philip Francis Schmidt, curate to Fr. Stibiel from Nov., 1860 till appointed pastor of St. Augustine's. More on him in the text. Rev. Joseph M. Brandstaetter and Rev. John Schell were curates to Fr. Stibiel about the years 1862 and 1863 and may have said Mass at St. Augustine's.
(10) St. Aug., Jan., 1922, p. 12.
(11) Ibid., p. 7.





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decision to begin work on the church was finally reached in April, 1862, when Mr. August Hoeveler as president of the building committee was authorized to let the contract for grading and for the foundation stones.

  Once under way, the building made rapid progress. On May 23, an agreement had been signed with the contractors Messrs. John and William Lamkemeyer, to build a church costing $9,875.00. Due to later changes, however, the cost of the building exclusive of furnishings, rose to $12,327.84.

  On June 22, 1862, the corner stone was laid. Bishop Domenec being in Rome, his Vicar General, the Very Rev. E. McMahon, officiated at the ceremony. The Pittsburgh Catholic(12) of June 28, carried the following account:

  On last Sunday afternoon at four o'clock the corner stone of a new church for the use of the Lawrenceville German Catholics was laid at Lawrenceville by the Very Rev. E. McMahon, Vicar General, assisted by Rev. Messrs. Stibiel, Gibbs, Kircher, and Reiser. Rev. John Stibiel addressed the congregation in German, and was followed by the Very Rev. Vicar General in an English discourse. The ceremony was witnessed by an immense concourse of people. The religious societies of the cathedral and Holy Trinity, Pittsburgh; and of St. Michael's, Birmingham, met at the cathedral and went thence in procession to St. Philomena's, where they met the societies of the church of St. Mary's, and of St. Peter's, Allegheny. From St. Philomena's Church they proceeded to Lawrenceville, where they met the society of St. Mary's, Sharpsburg.

  The lot secured for the new church is one of the most eligible in the borough, fronting on Butler Street, not far from where this thoroughfare meets the Greensburg turnpike, and running back to the turnpike. Before long, no doubt, there will be erected a fine church, thus adding another place of Catholic worship in the suburbs of our city.

  With the laying of the corner stone Father Kircher had every reason to rejoice. His first undertaking, the school, was now flourishing, and his next objective, the church, gave promise of an achievement' no less encouraging. But interested as he was in completing the church he had shortly begun, he was not to realize his ambition, for in December, 1862, when the church was barely under roof, the Bishop appointed a resident pastor in the person of Rev. Philip Franz Schmidt, hitherto curate to Father Stibiel of St. Mary's, Allegheny. Apparently, things had not gone so well since Father Stibiel and his curates had assumed charge of the Sunday services at St. Augustine's. Father Kircher had asked for a curate to assist him in his work both at Riceville and in Lawrenceville, but instead the Bishop had placed the spiritual care of the new parish in the hands of Father Stibiel while permitting Father Kircher to act as pastor and to administer the temporal affairs. This arrangement could not but cause division both between priests and people as seems evident from the fact that Father Kircher ceased to preside at the committee meetings after the laying of the corner stone. Nor does his name appear any more in connection with any transaction. For nearly two years he had directed the affairs of the parish and in the truest sense must be styled the organizer of St. Augustine's.

  Father Philip Franz Schmidt, distinguished as the first resident pastor of St. Augustine's, was born in Freiburg on May 10, 1817. He was ordained priest in St. Peter's Seminary near Freiburg on August 7, 1843. Previous to 18S2, he was active either as curate or as pastor in Oberkirch, Riedern am Wald, Kenzingen, Rotenfels, Radolfzell, Hilsbach and Rauenberg. From 1852 till January 25, 1856, when he received permission to go to America, he had no appointment. A letter from the episcopal chancery of Freiburg dated January 16, 1922, says that while in the archdiocese of Freiburg "he did not prove a good financier and, moreover, he had some other shortcomings. For a while he stayed with the Trappist Fathers in Oelenberg in Alsace, but he found this kind of life too strenuous and asked the Archbishop for leave to go to America."(13)

  In 1856 he came to the United States. Here, too, he moved frequently from place to place. In 1857 he was at Thompson (now Frank), Seneca Co., Ohio; in 1858 and 1859 he was pastor of St. Joseph's Church at Vogelbacher (now Lucinda), Pa., Clarion



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(12) A Catholic weekly founded March  16, 1844 still continuing. Cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, XI p. 694.
(13) St. Aug., March, 1922, p. 4. Letter from episcopal chancery in Freiburg, dated Jan. 16, 1922, in parish archives.






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Co., diocese of Erie; in 1860, he was at St. Mary's Hospital, Rochester, Monroe Co., New York, probably as chaplain. In February, 1860, Father Schmidt called personally on Father Stibiel at St. Mary's, Allegheny, probably to arrange for admission into the Pittsburgh Diocese. In November, 1860, he was appointed assistant at St. Mary's and seems to have rendered service at the churches attended from that center. More than likely he substituted for Fr. Stibiel at St. Augustine's before his official appointment as pastor in 1862.

  During the ten months of his pastorate Father Schmidt centered his efforts on completing the church begun by Father Kircher. He purchased the pews and the windows. He was also interested in the school and left us a complete list of the parents of the children attending the school. He was not very faithful in keeping records and his successor, Father John Nepomucene Tamchina, wrote the following remark on the margin of the Register of baptisms, marriages and deaths: "A prima die Novembris (?) anni 1863, tempore undecim menses retro, quo Rev. Phil. Schmidt munus pastorale ad ecclesiam St. Augustini obierat, ut primae 5 paginae produnt prout baptismata, ita matrimonia et sepulturas consignari penitus intermisit.(14)

  Father Schmidt was in ill health most of the time, which might account at least partially for his instability. He is said to have been of an emaciated appearance and seldom if ever was a smile seen on his face. In October, 1863, shortly before the church was ready for dedication, he was transferred to St. Mary's Help of Christians, in McKees Rocks, where he remained for about a year and a half, then returned as assistant to St. Mary's, Allegheny. His last signature appears in the baptismal register of that church under date of October 15, 1865. Broken  in  health,   he  later  entered the Mercy Hospital and died on June 21, 1866. Negligent in keeping the records, he is now himself the victim of several inaccuracies regarding the principal dates of his life. Father Lambing in Historical Researches in Western Pennsylvania, says Father Schmidt was forty-eight instead of forty-nine years old; and Das Gedenkbuch des Goldenen Jubilaeums of St. Mary's, Allegheny, has August 12 instead of August 10 for the day of his birth, and July 2, 1867, instead of June 21, 1866, for the date of his death.(15)

  The second resident pastor was Rev. John Nepomucene Tamchina. He was born at Pardubitz, district of Chrudim, now Czechoslovakia, on April 14, 1803. Surprising as it may seem, he was a Capuchin, having entered the Order on September 30, 1828. As a Capuchin his name was Restitute and he took his vows in the friary at Wiener-Neustadt. Having completed his philosophical and theological studies in the friaries at Boesing, Hungary, at Scheibbs, then, Lower Austria, and Pressburg, he took solemn vows on July 31, 1830, and was ordained priest by Archbishop Milde in Vienna on September 4, 1834. His first appointment was as curate in Linz, becoming guardian and administrator of the Capuchin church there in 1849. In 1850 he taught theology at Wiener-Neustadt. In 1851 he departed for America and is listed in the chronicle of his Province as Apostolic Missionary in America.(16)

  Father Tamchina's first appointment in America was probably as pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Lancaster in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. He remained there from April-November, 1851, making missionary visits to St. Peter's, Butler, Pa., where his services were welcome owing to the shortage of German priests in those parts. From Lancaster Father Tamchina went to Butler where he remained till the end of 1852 or early part of 1853. While at Butler he also had charge of the parish at Herman, Pa., for at least a half year. His name appears in the Herman registers from



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(14) "During the eleven months previous to Nov.1, 1863, when Rev. Philip Schmidt was pastor of St. Augustine's, he neglected entirely to  record the baptisms, marriages and  burials, as is evident from the first five pages."
(15) Information from diocesan curia of Freiburg, dated March 6, 1922. Document in parish archives. Cf. St. Aug., April., 1922, pp. 11, 12.
(16) Letter from archivist of Capuchin monastery in Vienna. Parish archives. St. Aug., May, 1922, p. 3.






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November 1, 1851-April 7, 1852. From about the middle of 1855-November 11, 1855, he did pastoral work in St. Joseph's, Donegal, (now North Oakland), whence he went to St. Mary's, Sharpsburg, and remained there from early 1856 to at least May of the same year.

  From St. Mary's, Sharpsburg, he went to West End in Somerset Co., attending from 1857-59 St. John's Church at Herman's Bottom, and St. Matthew's at Fairfield or Nyer's Hill, now New Baltimore, Pa. In 1859, he was curate at St. Mary's, Allegheny, remaining till September, when he became pastor of St. Mary's, McKees Rocks. In 1863 he exchanged places with Father Schmidt, the first resident pastor of St. Augustine's.(17)

  Coming to St. Augustine's Father Tamchina found the church practically finished, hence he began the preparations for the dedication. In several meetings with the church committee,the Messrs. A. Hoeveler, L. Unverzagt, A. Wirth, X. Loeffler, X. Helbling and B. Schmidt, the most important questions were decided. Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1863, was set for the day of dedication, and it was decided that admission should be by tickets costing fifty or twenty-five cents. Notice of the coming celebration was to be announced in The Pittsburgh Catholic and three times in both the weekly and daily edition of the Republi-caner.(18) Catholic societies were to be invited by letter.

  On December 5, 1863, The Pittsburgh Catholic carried the following account of the dedication:

  The Church of St. Augustine, Lawrenceville, was solemnly blessed and set apart for divine services on Thursday of last week. The Bishop of the diocese (Most Rev. Michael Domenec) performed the ceremony of blessing. High Mass was celebrated by Rev. J. Tamchina, the pastor of the church, assisted by Rev. J. M. Bierl as deacon, and Rev. A. Gibbs as subdeacon. After Mass the Bishop made a few remarks in English and Rev. Bierl preached in German. The principal beneficial societies of the two cities (Pittsburgh and Allegheny), ten in number, went processionally to the church and assisted at the ceremonies.(19)

  The collection on the day of dedication amounted to $287.70 and the tickets for the seats netted $568.55. The church was built of red brick in the Romanesque style and measured 100 feet in length, 50 feet in width and 30 feet in height. The tower, which was also the vestibule, faced Butler Street and rose to a height of 150 feet. The church had a seating capacity of 650. The pews, eighty in number and costing $580.00 were made by Mr. John Lamkemeyer.

  Since the church was not adequately furnished upon completion, Father Tamchina devoted his efforts to supply whatever was needed. Thus a new high altar costing $687.00 was installed and blessed on August 28, 1864, the patronal feast of the church. Later a pulpit made by Mr. Anton Iske was purchased for $500.00. To meet this expense Mr. August Hoeveler donated a lot to be raffled and the parish held a social. Both together cleared $512.00. On July 10, 1864, the organ was installed. It was built by A. Pomplitz of Baltimore and cost $2,500.00. The organ had twenty stops and was considered the best church organ in the district. On the occasion of its installation a sacred concert was given under the direction of Mr. A. M. Schwab. The proceeds amounted to $203.00. The Stations of the Cross were erected in 1864, the oil paintings costing $230.00 and the wooden frames $250.00. Throughout the year the church was gradually enriched with new articles until it was adequately equipped for worship and for the convenience of the people. Liberal donors were never lacking and subscriptions for sacred vessels, vestments and statues were always successful. The



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(17) St. Aug., May, 1922, pp. 3-5.
(18) A secular daily and weekly in the German language. Suspended publication about 1880. Its equipment was purchased to start the Pittsburgher Beobachter.
(19) Rev. John Michael Bierl, preacher on the occasion of the dedication, had an interesting career. Born July 2,  1838. Appointed pastor of Sts. Peter and  Paul's Church,  East Liberty, from 1865-1872.   From this post he organized the St. James' Parish of Wilkinsburg. Labored also in Butler, Pa., and other places. Joined the Conventual Franciscan Fathers at Syracuse, N. Y., and made profession on Sept. 8,  1875. Occupied the post of confessor at Loretto.  Italy,  and at St. Peter's, Rome.  Died on Feb. 9, 1912, at Utica, N. Y. Cf. Schematismus FF. Minorum Conventualium S. Francisci, Necrologium.   Syracuse,  1926, p.  142.   Lambing, Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, pp. 176, 189, 442.







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total cost of the church was about $26,000. Although the contract price was for $12,327.84, nevertheless changes in the original plans and the furnishings increased that sum.

  Besides equipping the church, Father Tamchina completed the payment due the Teese heirs for the original church property. The parish had still owed $4,350.00 plus $243.50 in interest on this property. This debt was cleared in 1864. To discharge this burden the pastor resorted to picnics, subscriptions and appeals, and also to the sale of the eleven lots comprised in the Malcolm Leech property purchased merely as an investment in 1862. The latter sale brought $2,860.00. Moreover, the pastor's finances were greatly helped by the loans which he made from both parishioners and non-parishioners at the low rate of three percent while the banks demanded six.

  In December, 1864, Father Tamchina sent his financial report to the Bishop. This was the first financial statement the parish had ever submitted to the Bishop. It comprised all income and expenses from April 1, 1862-December, 1864. It follows: Income: Pew Rent, $1,450.00; Offertory, $681.00; Special collections, $2,850.00; Voluntary offerings, $675.00; Subscriptions, $682.00; Societies, $334.00; Sale of lots and picnics, $4,802.00; Total $11,474.00. Expenses: Including cost of church property, $30,374.00, leaving a debt of $18,900.00, on January 1, 1865.(20)

  Realizing the spiritual advantages of a mission, the pastor arranged for a mission shortly after the church was dedicated. The famous Jesuit preacher, Father Francis X. Weninger,(21) conducted a mission for the parish from March 1-10, and, judging from the baptismal record, a mission for non-Catholics from March 15-21, for during that week many adults and their children were baptised by the missionary. Since this was the first mission, it was made memorable by the presence of Bishop Domenec who came twice to the services and probably pontificated. The bill of $8.00 from Joseph Meyer and Son for the carriage "to bring the bishop" is still preserved in the parish archives. The mission cross erected on this occasion hung formerly in the corridor of St. Augustine's monastery. It bears the dates, 1864 and 1872, the dates of both the first and the second mission.

  Father Tamchina also fostered the traditional interest in the school. In 1864, 207 children were enrolled in the school and in addition to Mr. Kraus, two other teachers had to be employed. Evidently more room was needed and it seems that temporary accommodations were made in some neighboring house. In 1868 the number of pupils had increased to 265 and it was found necessary to enlarge the school. After levelling the site, the building was moved so as to front on Thirty-seventh Street and a basement built beneath it. To accomplish this an expenditure of $586.00 had to be made. About the same time a wall with an iron fence was erected in front' of the church on Butler Street "to stop loafing on the church grounds", as the record says.(22) This wall is still doing service.

  In October, 1866, the parish received its first curate in the person of Father Lawrence Spitzlberger who remained only till December. In February, 1867, Father August Nieman came as curate but remained only till August. On February 2, 1867, Father John Duffner celebrated his first solemn Mass at St. Augustine's and remained as curate for eight months when he was appointed pastor of Germantown. Apparently, the diocese had but few German-speaking priests, hence there was little chance for any save the larger parishes to have a curate.(23)




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(20) Finanzbuch I, p. 279.  St. Aug., June, 1922, p. 10.
(21) A prominent German missionary   Cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, XV, p. 587.
(22) St. Aug., July, 1922, p. 1.
(23) Ibid., June, 1922, p. 13. On Rev. Lawrence Spitzlberger, see Enzlberger, op. cit. 1892, p. 135; Cath. Directory, Milwaukee, 1905, p. 934. On Rev.August Nieman see Sigmund Cratz, O.M.Cap., History of St. Marys Church, Herman, Pa., Pittsburgh, 1917, pp. 39-41; Enzlberger. op. cit.,
p. 37. Gregory Lindemann, O.M.Cap.,  The Rise and Progress of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order in the United States, New York, 1917, p. 324; Celestine Bittle, O.M.Cap., A Romance of Lady Poverty, New York, 1933, p. 326.   On Rev. John B. Duffner, see Enzelberger. op. cit., p. 239; Ed. Fussenegger. Sixtieth Anniversary of the Dedication of the Most Holy Name Church, N. S., Pittsburgh, 128, pp. 24, 25, 39, 40.






 Page 30                                                          ST. AUGUSTINE'S  PARISH HISTORY                                                                    1863-1938



  In July, 1868, a collection for two side altars dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph netted $636.00. By this time Father Tamchina was sixty-eight years old and not in the best of health. To add to his troubles, a misunderstanding arose between himself and some parishioners who complained to the Bishop that he had misused the parish funds. Misunderstanding the terms of the contract, they cited that $30,000 had been paid for the church whereas the contract called for only $9,000. Father Tamchina drew up an itemized statement of all expenses including those before his time. Neither this nor the defense of the Bishop was sufficient to quiet all the gossip. Commenting on the unhappy affair the old pastor wrote: "Patience as enduring as steel and the conviction of innocence give powerful consolation in every test and they triumph at last."(24)

  On October 7, 1868, Father Tamchina tendered his resignation as pastor and became chaplain of St. Joseph's Orphanage, Troy Hill, then in the city of Allegheny.(25) During the five years of his incumbency he baptized 240 persons, blessed 41 marriages and conducted 87 funerals. When Father Tamchina retired, the parish numbered about 300 families and the church debt was $20,545.00.(26)

  To the surprise of all, the successor of Father Tamchina was none other than Father George Kircher, the organizer of the parish. He returned in October, 1868, and remained till September, 1871. Shortly after the interruption of his work at St. Augustine's in 1862, he had been transferred from Holy Trinity in Riceville to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Altoona, then a part of the Pittsburgh Diocese. From Altoona he visited regularly the Germans of Hollidaysburg, organizing St. Michael's Parish, building both church and school, and finally becoming the first resident pastor there in 1866. From Hollidaysburg he returned to St. Augustine's in Oct., 1868.(27)

  Summarizing his work for the three years, 1868-71, his immediate successor says: "Besides meeting the salaries and other current expenses, he built the rear (brick) addition to the school; he had the church grounds paved and the hill in the rear of the church partly levelled; he made several repairs in the church, had Thirty-seventh Street regulated, and installed gas in the church and school."(28) Father Tamchina had already enlarged the school by adding the basement to the frame building, but Father Kircher now built a two-story brick annex in the rear. The entire upper floor was arranged as a hall for entertainments and meetings.

  In addition to his work at St. Augustine's, Father Kircher acceded to the request of the Bishop and took charge of the German Catholics of Bloomfield in 1870. This extra service necessitated the assistance of another priest. None of the curates appointed during these years remained long. We have record of the following: March-May, 1870, Father Francis Xavier Pauletigi; September-November, 1870, Father Joseph Boehm; March-April, 1871, Father Francis Deuermeyer; May-July, 1871, Father John Duffner, then the Benedictine, Father Karl Geyerstanger, till September, 1871, when Father Kircher completed his second term at St. Augustine's.(29)

  From a letter which Father Kircher wrote to the Bishop of Augsburg toward the end of 1866 when still at Hollidaysburg, we gather that his Bishop must have expected him to return to Bavaria shortly:


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(24) St. Aug., July, 1922, p. 2.
(25) Founded in  1850 for children of German-speaking parents. Closed its doors on Jan. 1, 1938. Lambing, Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, pp. 512-514.
(26) St. Aug., July, 1922, pp. 1, 2.  Census, 1867.
(27) Ibid., Dec., 1921, pp. 3, 4.
(28) Ibid., Sept, 1922, p. 1.
(29) Ibid., pp. 1-3. On Rev. Xavier Pauletigi, see Enzlberger, op. cit., p. 38; Gedenkbuch des Goldenen Jubilaeums der St. Marien-Kirche, Pittsburgh, 1898, p. 114. On Rev. Joseph Boehm: Enzlberger, op. cit., p. 159; Hoffman's Cath. Directory, Milwaukee, 1894, p.159; Schoener, Fiftieth Anniversary    of St. Cecilia's Church, p. 19. On  Rev. Francis  Deuermeyer: Enzlberger, op. cit., 138; Hoffmann's Oath. Directory, 1895, p. 41; Gerold, Golden Jubilee of St. Joseph's Church, N. S., pp. 18, 44. On Rev. Karl Geyerstanger: Cratz, op. cit., pp. 34,  35; Album Benedictinum, St. Vincent, Pa, 1880, p. 234; Lambing, Foundation Stones, pp. 180, 184.





1863-1938                                                                 ST. AUGUSTINE'S  PARISH HISTORY                                                                     Page 31       



Your Lordship:

    With your kind permission I consider it a most sacred obligation to ask Your Lordship to prolong indefinitely my leave of absence. The reasons which I give are the same that induced me to leave my diocese and my native land, Bavaria, to minister to the poor Germans in want of priests. Who would deprive me now of my position, indeed, no enviable one, which I attained by hard work supported by the blood-stained money of poor workingmen, in spite of the opposition of the English or rather the Irish priests. Far be it from me to glory in myself, but the well-known custom in this country is that "he who begins a work must also finish it," and since I had great difficulty in obtaining the Bishop's permission to build a church and school here, he being no friend of the Germans, I feel bound to remain in my parish and to make it a success.(30)

  The writer in the St. Augustinus(31) says that permission was accorded Father Kircher to remain in America for another year beginning with February 12, 1867. In the meantime Father Kircher repeatedly petitioned the Bishop of Pittsburgh to relieve him of his charge so that he might return to Bavaria. The Bishop, however, persuaded him to remain at his post. Undoubtedly, the Bishop needed German-speaking priests at the time.

  It is unfortunate that the last year of Father Kircher's pastorate was marred by various difficulties with certain parishioners. It is said that he was no bookkeeper and that mistakes were detected in his accounts. But someone who knew him well said: "If Father Kircher spent this money, he did not spend it on himself."(32) Other difficulties arose from his work in Bloomfield. Not having a curate, he frequently conducted the Sunday services in Bloomfield and employed at St. Augustine's Father Gallus Hoch, O.S.B., from St. Vincent's Archabbey. This arrangement aroused opposition on the part of certain parishioners at St. Augustine's.

  Finally, there was serious trouble owing to the dismissal of Teacher Schmidt. For sometime both priest and teacher had been living in the old Teese residence. The building had eleven rooms, four of which were on the first floor and four on the second floor. Then there were three one-story annexes, two brick and one frame. Quite naturally, the major portion of the house was reserved for the rectory, providing suitable accommodations for the pastor, curate, and housekeeper, while two of the annexes and one room on the first floor were reserved for the teacher. The teacher had a family and since he needed another bedroom, Father Kircher gave up his parlor for this purpose. The teacher, however, turned the additional room into a parlor for himself to the disapproval of both pastor and church committee. As a result of the disagreement, the teacher was obliged to vacate the rectory altogether and to rent the frame house at the entrance of Church Alley on Thirty-seventh Street. Thereupon the teacher commenced to agitate against the pastor and was finally dismissed. This did not end the trouble but only led to a greater dissension in the parish.

  In the midst of all these unpleasant happenings Father Kircher decided to harken to the appeals of his brother who wrote from Bavaria urging him to return to his native-land. Father Kircher left St. Augustine's on September 14, 1871. As a warning to the parishioners and as a proof of his own good will, he concluded his last sermon with the words: 'To err is human, but to hate is devilish."(33)

  On October 14, 1871, he petitioned the Bishop of Augsburg for reinstatement in the diocese, presenting at the same time the testimonial letter from the Bishop of Pittsburg. It read:

  Herewith we testify that Rev. George Kircher, priest of the diocese of Augsburg, who with the necessary leave and permission of his Ordinary, exercised priestly duties in the Pittsburgh diocese, performed his duties with praiseworthy zeal and great benefit to the faithful. We also testify that of his own accord he desired to return to his country, and has lawfully requested our permission. We, therefore, grant him this favor, and recommend him to the kindness of the Bishop of Augsburg. We also state that, to the best of our knowledge, the said George Kircher has not incurred any censure.

Sept. 11, 1871.
Signed:  Michael, Bishop of Pittsburgh.(34)


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(30) Document from episcopal curia, Augsburg. Cf. Note 2.
(31) Dec., 1921, pp. 3, 4. The writer is Rev. Cyprian Gehrling, O.M.Cap.,
(32) Ibid., p. 4.
(33) Ibid., p. 5.
(34) Cf. Note 2.





""






1863-1938                                                                 ST. AUGUSTINE'S  PARISH HISTORY                                                                     Page 33       



  On October 18, 1871, Father Kircher was reinstated in the diocese of Augsburg and was appointed successively curate in Illerberg, Hawangen, Mindelheim and Haselbach. On December 31, 1874, he became pastor at Amendingen where he died on June 18, 1884. The St. Augustinus(35) quotes the following from the Pittsburger Beobachter:

  We are reliably informed from a priest from the South Side that the Rev. George Kircher who is well known in this diocese, particularly in Hollidaysburg and Lawrenceville, died June 18. of this year at Amendingen, Bavaria. The deceased had worked in this diocese for twelve years, especially in the above-mentioned parishes, and had won many friends. Invited by his brother who also is a priest, to return to Germany, he took over the latter's parish in Amendingen, near Memmingen, where he was to work for another ten years with great zeal. In this place he closed his earthly career after an illness of fifteen weeks and which he had contracted from a cold. The deceased was born in Weissenhorn, Bavaria, on August 19, 1830, ordained priest May 19, 1858. and died in his 54th year. R.I.P.

  Father Kircher was a kindly gentleman, a successful organizer and a zealous priest. His loss was felt by St. Augustine's and also by the diocese, for owing to the scarcity of German priests, the Bishop was forced to recall Father Tamchina to the pastorate the latter had relinquished but three years before.

  As already stated, Father Tamchina retired to St. Joseph's Orphanage in 1868. However, he did not remain there long for the Catholic Directory of 1869 places him at Alpsville, Pa., and at St. Joseph's Chapel, Troy Hill. In 1871, he is not listed but evidently he held the same post. On returning to St. Augustine's Father Tamchina was in his sixty-ninth year and as the parish with the mission of Bloomfield taxed his strength he was given two curates, Father John Staub and Father Peter Kaufmann. In the course of the year, however, both curates were promoted to pastorates in German parishes and the Pastor of St. Augustine's was compelled to rely on the Benedictine, Father Gallus Hoch at least for Sunday assistance.(36)

  In February, 1872, Father Weninger, S.J., conducted his second mission at St. Augustine's. The mission was well attended and the missionary himself baptized no less than twenty-two persons, most of whom were adult converts. Moreover, many children of mixed marriages attending the public schools were reclaimed for the Catholic school and four youths were admitted to first communion.

  Though advanced in years, Father Tamchina continued his interest in the material and spiritual upbuilding of the parish. After providing for the spiritual renewal in the mission, he undertook the remodelling of the parish house, hitherto an unsatisfactory dwelling for the priest. Owing to the heavy expenses for building the school and church, the parish built no parochial residence. From the beginning the old Teese house was used for this purpose, but as it stood on a hill thirty feet high, it was too inconvenient for Father Tamchina in his first pastorate so he rented a house from Mr. X. Loeffler. This house stood next to the church on Butler Street. Later, when Father Kircher succeeded Father Tamchina, he returned to the old Teese house after making repairs and building a kitchen. In 1872, at the beginning of his second pastorate, Father Tamchina remodelled the rectory extensively. He levelled the hill on which it stood, put a basement under the house, and repaired it thoroughly for $8,000.00. The contract was given to B. Hoehn and Raab, and the house was practically rebuilt. The money was obtained partly by selling a lot which the parish had purchased from a certain Dr-Bundschuh. The lot was auctioned and brought $4,575.00. A collection, a concert, a picnic and sundry other sources enabled the pastor to remodel the rectory without drawing on the treasury or adding to the church debt.

  The crowning work of Father Tamchina, effected at the end of his second pastorate,




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(35) Dec., 1921, pp. 5-6.
(36) St. Aug., Oct., 1922, p.1. On Rev. John Staub: Lambing, "Necrology of the Diocese of Pittsburgh" in Cath. Hist. Researches, vol. II, Jan., 1886, p. 102; Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, pp. 182, 199. On Rev. Peter Kaufmann: Enzlberger, op. cit., p, 241; Gerold, op. cit., pp. 18-30, 45, 46. On Rev. Gallus Hoch, O.S.B., see Cratz, op. cit., p. 41; Enzlberger, op. cit., p. 246





 Page 34                                                          ST. AUGUSTINE'S  PARISH HISTORY                                                                    1863-1938



was the establishment of the Sisters of St. Francis as teachers in the school. The employment of lay teachers, hitherto unavoidable, was nevertheless far from satisfactory. Good teachers were rare and even when secured were ever ready to relinquish their post for more lucrative positions. In the first seven years of the school, from 1854-1861, there were no less than seven teachers, averaging a new teacher each year. From 1862-1871, the following teachers are mentioned: John Kraus, 1862-64 (assisted by Mr. Werder in 1863); Joseph Zimmermann, 1864-65, assisted by a man named Karl Spiro in 1864; Leopold Nigel, 1865-67; Stephen Schmidt, 1866-68; John Nep. Bögle, 1867-68; Miss Elizabeth Fillinger assisted in 1866, 1867 and 1868.(37) The writer in the St. Angustinus(38) mentions the following teachers: Miss Blanche Weisshaar, Mr. Heilig and Mr. Stephen Schmidt in 1870; Mr. Duwell(39) and Mr. Joseph Stuetzer in 1871.

  Little wonder that the pastor, seeking a permanent solution of the teacher problem, decided to employ the services of Sisters especially adapted for this purpose. His resolution made, he had not far to seek. Within the confines of his parish was St. Francis Hospital(40) established by the Third Order Sisters of St. Francis whose motherhouse was in Buffalo. They had started their hospital in Pittsburgh in 1866 and soon after began to accept teaching positions in the German parochial schools of the diocese. On November 8, 1871, the Sisters began their work in St. Augustine's School. The first two teachers were Sister Mary Angela Endres of Koblenz, Prussia, and Sister Bernarda Kim of Pittsburgh. The Sisters dwelt at the hospital as there was no convent in the parish till after some years. For the highest class of boys the services of Mr. John Trimberger, of the Teachers Institute of St. Francis in Wisconsin, were retained till the fall of 1874 when the Sisters took over the four classes.(41)

  The coming of the Sisters proved a great blessing for the parish. The pastor had no more worries as to who the next teacher would be, nor did the school ever have to close its doors for weeks and months until another teacher could be found. The pupils, too, began to cherish more interest in their school and to love their teachers whose very garb and life were suggestive of religion and culture.

  Father Tamchina continued in the pastorate till April, 1874, when we meet another great turning-point in the history of the parish. It is to this subject we must now turn-


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(37) Seraphischer Kinderfreund, vol. IX, p. 5.
(38) Sept, 1922, p. 3.
(39) Teacher Duwell was an accomplished classical scholar. Later he taught Latin in the Butler High School. He had also been organist at various churches.   He gave two sons to the Church: Rev. Charles Duwell of St. Joseph's Church, Verona, Pa., and Rev. Edward Duwell of Holy Trinity Church, McKeesport. Information furnished by Rev. John Lenhart, O.M.Cap.
(40) The first St. Francis Hospital was most probably located on the present Bandera Street between Thirty-seventh Street and Cobalt Alley. It was a long frame tenement belonging to a man named Engel. On May 22, 1866, the Sisters purchased a  plot of ground with a frame building on Forty-fourth Street for the sum of $25,000. The dwelling had a capacity of 30 beds. A chapel was added and dedicated on Thanksgving Day, Nov., 29. 1866. On July 21, 1871, the corner stone was laid for a more spacious building which was dedicated by Bishop Domenec on Sept. 26, of the same year. Information furnished by Sister M. Clarissa. archivist of St. Francis Convent, Mt. Alvernia, Millvale, Pa.
(41) Kinderfreund, IX, p. 23.




On to Chapter III . . .


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