Besides the erection of the school and of the Capuchin
Monastery, this second pastorate of Father Maurice was noteworthy for
other significant happenings. On December 25, 1888, Father Benedict
Wich, O.M.Cap., another son of the parish, celebrated his first solemn
Mass and had the unusual distinction of administering first communion
to his father, a recent convert.(2) The same day marked the close of a
triduum commemorating the beatification of Blessed Felix of Nicosia, a
Capuchin. A patriotic celebration was held on Tuesday, April 30, 1889,
when the centenary of the inauguration of George Washington as first
President of the United States was commemorated with solemn Mass,
sermon and Te Deum. Before the Mass the church bells were rung for half
The sympathy and charity of Father Maurice, the public-spirited
Franciscan, are also seen in the solemn Requiem on June 4, 1889, for
the victims of the Johnstown flood, and also in the collection ordered
for the relief of the surviving sufferers. He announced the collection
in the following words:
You have already heard of the
terrible disaster that has befallen Johnstown. In order to bring quick
relief to these unfortunate people, we shall take up a collection at
all the Masses. Those who are unprepared for the collection are
requested to bring their offering to the rectory this afternoon. Dear
Parishioners, I beg you to do your very best on this occasion and you
will earn not only a great reward but also, under God, the grace of
protection from similar calamities.(3)
The collection amounted to $470.00. From its earliest days St.
Augustine's never lacked generous souls whose solicitude for the things
of God prompted generous benefactions. In 1889, Mr. Joseph Vogel
presented an imported monstrance valued at $800.00. The gems and lunula
for the latter were worth $200.00 and were the gifts of Mr. Michael
McCullough, the benefactor of the school. In 1890, Mr. Edward
Frauenheim presented a set of gold-embroidered red vestments for solemn
Masses. Other gifts of vestments, chalices and statues were presented
from time to time so that both church and sacristy were well equipped
for all occasions.
Father Maurice retired from the pastorate in August, 1890. He
spent the next six years as superior and pastor of St. Alphonsus'
Church in Wheeling, returning to Pittsburgh in 1897, where he died on
March 17, 1898.
The next pastor was the well-known and well-beloved Father
Hyacinth. However, he remained pastor only from August, 1890, till
October, 1891, when the chapter in the presence of the Most Reverend
Bernard Christen of Andermatt, General of the Order, unanimously
elected him Provincial. During his brief pastorate there occurred from
September 22-25, 1890, the fourth celebration of German Catholic Day in
Pittsburgh. On Monday evening after the Angelus the pastor ordered St.
Augustine's bells to be rung for fifteen minutes in joyful welcome of
the event. Hundreds of priests crowded the city, and among the prelates
were: Bishop Frederick Katzer of Green Bay; Bishop John Janssen of
Belleville; Bishop John Kain of Wheeling; Bishop Joseph Rademacher of
Nashville; Bishop Kilian Flasch of Fort Wayne, and Bishop Leo Haid,
O.S.B., of Belmont, North Carolina. Among the distinguished Catholic
laymen was Dr. Ernest Lieber, a member of the German Reichstag.(4)
Father Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, O.M.Cap., succeeded Father
Hyacinth in October, 1891. Born in Augsburg, Bavaria, on April 9, 1854,
he entered the Capuchin Order on April 12, 1872. Desirous of joining
his brethren in the American mission, he came as deacon to the United
(2) Very Rev. Benedict Wich was born on Jan. 24, 1866, at Pittsburgh.
Invested with Capuchin habit on Oct. 14, 1882. Ordained Dec. 22. 1888.
Studied at the University of Innsbruck from 1889-1891. From 1891-1931
he was lector of moral theology at Sts. Peter and Paul's Monastery.
Cumberland. Md. Provincial of the Capuchin Province of
Pennsylvania from 1909-1915 and from 1918-1921. Since 1936, guardian of
the Cumberland Monastery, and since 1937, definitor of the
(3) Announcement Book
(4) The Report of this convention was published under the title: Verhandlungen der Vierten Allgemeinen
Versammlung der Katholiken Deutscher Zunge der Vereinigten Staaten von
Nord-Amerika in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Sept. 22-25, 1890. Herausgegeben
von Rev. A. Fischer und Chas. Jaegle. Druck des Beobachters
1876 and was ordained by the Most Rev. John Tuigg in St. Paul's
Cathedral, Pittsburgh, on September 23, 1876. His ability as a
practical administrator was soon recognized as is evident from the
important offices of Guardian, Master of Novices, and Provincial, one
or the other of which he almost constantly filled.
One of the first things Father Joseph did as pastor was to take
up a complete census of the parish. 740 families with 3800 souls were
reported. He then undertook many improvements, notably the frescoing of
the church at a cost of $1,200 and the erection of new Stations. He
also had the interior of the school painted for $485.00. In the spring
of 1892, Father Joseph purchased the ground for the cemetery. Hitherto
the parish had buried its dead in St. Mary's Cemetery, Forty-sixth
Street, but as space was becoming scarce and the price of lots
correspondingly high, the pastor obtained the Bishop's permission to
acquire thirteen and one sixth acres in Shaler Township as burial
ground for St. Augustine's Parish. The price was $290.00 per acre.
After laying out .the roads and planning the lots, the pastor had an
iron fence erected at the cost of $583.63. On August 26, 1892, a
massive iron cross with gold-plated corpus was erected for $491.00, the
gift of Mrs. Mary Regina Frauenheim.(5)
The spirit of demonstration in behalf of the faith—typical of
those days—was clearly in evidence on September 18, 1892, when the
cemetery was solemnly dedicated. To the observer of this distant day,
the great parade that marked the occasion might be suggestive of a
great army going out for conquest. Fully aware that the parish would
turn out en masse, and distrusting the safety of the Forty-third Street
bridge, the pastor warned the people from the altar not to walk in step
while crossing the bridge so as to prevent its rocking. Reading the
chronicle of Father Hyacinth, we can readily understand the
reasonableness of the warning. He says: "The ceremony was imposing.
Amid the music of bands, eighty horsemen, one hundred and sixty
carriages and more than three thousand people came in procession to the
cemetery to witness the blessing of their last resting-place and to
pray for the grace of a happy death."(6) Father Hyacinth, delegated by
the Bishop, blessed the cemetery and Father Joseph Anthony delivered
the sermon. The latter also started the pious custom still in vogue, of
a parish visit to the cemetery for an All Souls' devotion in the early
part of November.
Since there had been no mission in the parish for eleven years,
the pastor invited the Jesuits—Father Peter Schnitzler, Francis X.
Neubrand and Louis Buchholz—to conduct a mission from January
29-February 12, 1893.(7)
Towards the end of 1893, our country passed through the great
depression of the "nineties" which meant difficult days for the parish.
The church's debt was still $45,136.63, and the pastor saw no prospects
of reducing it according to his hopes. Indeed, there was question as to
whether the parish would be able to meet its ordinary obligations.
Convinced that among the parishioners there were some whose financial
outlook was quite favorable, he made an earnest appeal to them to do
more than their share in this present crisis.
But Father Joseph did not rest with appealing in behalf of the
church. In true Franciscan spirit he urged the parish as a unit to take
up the cause of the poor. For this reason he started the St.
Augustine's Benevolent Society which organized as follows: President,
Father Joseph; Vice-President, Mr. William Eichenlaub; Treasurer, Mr.
A. Reiman; Secretary, Mr. Peter Ritter. Other active members were: Wm.
Helbling, Caspar Boberg, Ferd. Voelker, Titus Berger, Peter Halli,
Louis Krekeler, Robert Fey, Joseph Bienemann, John Fink, Peter Kerner
and Martin Hager.
As in apostolic times, the parish was divided into districts,
each district having its responsible captain. These captains studied
the needs of their districts, making sure that the cases were
deserving, collected alms in money, food and clothing and de-
(5) Total cost of cemetery was $3,788.00 exclusive of lawyer's fee of
$124.31. Expenses on dedication day were $95.85. Account Book
(6) Hyacinth Epp, MS., II Abschnitt, pp. 99, 100.
(7) On Fathers Schnitzler, Neubrand and Buchholz, cf. Enzlberger, op.
at, p. 71.
livered them at the rectory. Every Wednesday from two till six o'clock,
the rectory was open to receive articles of every description for the
needy. Once a week the committee met with the pastor and reports were
made as to the work done and the work to be done. During the winter
months of 1893 and 1894, more than sixty families of the parish
received support. Noted among the disbursements are: 775 bushels of
coal, 70 sacks of flour, 46 bushels of potatoes and similar portions of
substantial food, besides plenty of clothing. In this way the society
brought immediate and substantial relief to the needy families of the
At the time it was intended that the St. Augustine's Benevolent
Society be absorbed by the St. Vincent de Paul's Society, but it seems
that the organization disbanded with the betterment of working
conditions. Generosity to the poor meant also generosity to the church
for Miss Clementine Frauenheim who, in this period, donated a sanctuary
lamp valued at $500.00.
Father Joseph Anthony completed his term as pastor in August,
1894. His successor was Father Herman Joseph Peters, O.M.Cap. Born in
Breberen in the Rhineland on October 5, 1850, he entered the Carmelite
Order and was ordained on December 8, 1873, at Zenderen, Holland. In
1877, he came to the United States and was stationed at Holy Trinity
Church, Pittsburgh, till 1882, when he obtained Papal permission to
transfer to the Capuchin Order.(9) Previous to his appointment to St.
Augustine's, he had been active in Pittsburgh, Cumberland, Peoria,
Wheeling and Dover.
On assuming office Father Herman found the church debt to be
$43,479.92. With energy becoming his great physical powers he
determined to reduce that debt. A tea party in 1895 cleared $2,710.99;
another in 1896 netted $4,501.94, while various picnics enriched the
treasury by several thousands. In 1897, he started a house collection
and although unable to complete it before the expiration of his term,
succeeded in collecting $2,700,19. When he retired from office after
three years, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he paid off
$15,219.73, leaving the parish debt at $28,260.19. Among the
interesting expense items of 1895 is the donation of $55.20 for the
Apostolic Delegation in Washington, D.C.
Desirous of fostering Capuchin devotions, Father Herman arranged
for a triduum from February 1-3, 1895, to commemorate the beatification
of Blessed Didacus Cadix. Three different preachers were engaged for
the occasion, Father Anthony Joseph Zielenbach, C.S.Sp., Father
Christopher Schiesl, C.P., and Father Patrick Leinsle, O.M.Cap.(10) The
triduum was well attended and twelve hundred communions were
distributed on the three days. On May 30, 1897, the Third Order
fraternity commemorated the silver jubilee of Pope Leo XIII as a
tertiary of St. Francis. A solemn Mass was celebrated and the
tertiaries took up a collection amounting to $362.00 which they sent to
the Holy Father.
Another gesture indicative of devotion to the Papacy in those
days was the protest of all Catholic societies against the unjust
spoliation of the Holy See by the Italian Government. In 1895, it was
twenty-five years since this injustice had been committed, and by order
of Bishop Phelan all Catholic societies were asked to sign a protest.
Accordingly, after the Mass on September 22, the presidents and
secretaries of all the societies in St. Augustine's met at the rectory
and signed the official protest.(11)
(8) St. Aug.
, Jan., 1927, pp.
13, 17, 95. Announcement Book
(9) Hyacinth Epp, MS., I Teil, p. 84.
(10) Rev. Anthony J. Zielenbach, C.S.Sp., was born on Jan. 28, 1855 at
Wendershagen, Prussia. Ordained on Oct. 27, 1878. Came to the United
States on Oct. 8, 1879 and was connected with Holy Ghost College, now
Duquesne University. Rev. Christopher Schiesl, C.P., was born on Dec.
20, 1848, at Buffalo. Joined the Passionists on July 5, 1872. Ordained
Sept. 8. 1878. Curate at St. Michael's, Southside and other places.
Died at Dunkirk, N.Y., on Aug. 29, 1913. Rev. Patrick Leinsle was born
on May 6, 1856. at Ober-Kammlach, Bavaria. Came to the United States on
Aug. 4, 1875. Ordained on May 20, 1880 at Pittsburgh. Labored as curate
at St. Augustine's, Pittsburgh, at Dover, O., and Hays, Kans. Died at
Hays on Sept. 26, 1912. Enziberger, op.
, pp. 237, 239.
(11) Announcement Book
22, 1895. St. Aug.
1927, p. 183
Undoubtedly, it was just such and
similar reminders coming constantly from the Catholics of Italy and
periodically from those of the outside world that bore ultimate fruit
in the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
After three years of untiring service to the parish Father
Herman Joseph was transferred to the pastorate of St. Joseph's, Dover,
Ohio. Later he spent some years as pastor m Wheeling and in Munjor,
Kansas, where he died on June 9, 1911.
Father Peter Kemper, O.M.Cap., was the next pastor of St.
Augustine's, assuming office in August, 1897. He was born in
Clearfield, Pa., on December 7, 1862, and was ordained priest on August
25, 1889. Before his appointment to St. Augustine's, he had spent
fruitful years in the parishes of Cumberland, Wheeling, and Dover. His
pastorate lasted but one year during which time he reduced the parish
debt by $1,189.86. The debt reduction is all the more remarkable, since
in addition thereto Father Peter acquired the property of the present
Sisters' convent at a cost of $4,829.50. A new convent was indeed badly
needed, for the Sisters, using the top floor of the hall (present
Casino) as dormitory, were constantly disturbed by the celebrations in
the hall below. With unanimous approval Father Peter began the erection
of the convent and during his brief term of office saw the laying of
the corner stone on May 15, 1898. The Most Rev. Richard Phelan
officiated at the ceremony. Father Didacus Rottlaender, O.M.Cap.,
preached in German and Father John T. Murphy, C.S.Sp., in English.(12)
The following priests sang their first solemn Masses in 1898:
Father Augustine Noelle, O.M.Cap., on June 19; Father Bon-aventure
Becker, O.M.Cap., on June 26. Father Felix M. Lex, O.M.Cap., preached
for Father Augustine, and Father Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, O.M.Cap.,
for Father Bonaventure.
Father Charles Speckert, O.M.Cap., succeeded Father Peter. Born
at Langenbruecken, Baden, Germany, he entered the Capuchin Order in
May, 1880, and was ordained priest on December 20, 1884. About 1887 he
came to America and labored in the Capuchin parishes of Peoria,
Wheeling, Herman, Cumberland and Pittsburgh. The five years of his
pastorate at St. Augustine's were crowded with apostolic activity and
significant celebrations. On December 18, 1898, the Sisters' convent,
begun by Father Peter, was dedicated. A plain, substantial building,
the convent has a neat chapel and rooms for twenty Sisters. Including
the price of the ground, the cost was $20,530.08.
With the Sisters housed in their spacious convent, the upper
floor of the hall which they had occupied as dormitory, reverted to the
parish for purposes of entertainment. For a few years, however, part of
this hall was used for a kindergarten. In 1900, the pastor had both the
hall and the school painted for the sum of $443.00. Two drinking
fountains were also installed in the school. The month of August, 1898,
brought to a close a very successful tea party and contest that netted
$11,817.10. In 1898, Miss Rose Frauenheim donated $400.00 for an
artistic crib purchased in Europe.
The years 1899 and 1900 witnessed many celebrations significant
of spiritual progress. On April 3, 1899, solemn Mass was offered to
commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the coming of the Capuchin
Fathers to St. Augustine's. A large crowd attended and joined in the
grateful Te Deum following
the benediction. Father Joseph Anthony, Provincial, preached the
(12) Rev. Didacus Rottlaender was born on Oct. 11, 1837, at Roesrath,
Prussia. Served in the Prussian Army and took part in the war against
Denmark in 1864. Came to the United States on Sept. 8, 1875. Solemn
profession as Capuchin on Aug. 31, 1878. Ordained May 20. 1883. Labored
in Wheeling, Cumberland and Pittsburgh where he died on Feb. 27. 1900,
while hearing the confession of a sick man. Enzlberger, op. cit., p.
315. MS., Annales, Parish
archives. Rev. John T. Murphy, C.S.Sp., was at this time President of
Holy Ghost College. He enjoyed a high reputation as an orator. Later
stationed at the Apostolic College of his congregation at Cornwells,
Pa. Nominated Bishop of Port Louis of the island of Mauritius on July
8. 1916. Died April 16, 1926. Cf. Acta Ap. Sedis, Rome, vol. VIII,
1916, pp. 321, 475, and vol. XVIII, 1926, p. 248.
mon. In the evening both priests and parishioners gathered in the hall
to exchange greetings and well-wishing for the years to come. Among the
guests was the first pastor, Father Hyacinth Epp, O.M.Cap.
The month of May, 1900, marked the silver jubilee of the
establishment of the Ladies' Sodality. On May 6, the members assembled
in the hall and marched to the church for the Mass of thanksgiving. On
the following day there was a solemn requiem for the deceased members.
A banquet and entertainment in the hall on May 8, concluded the
About this time the following sons of the parish returned to
sing their first solemn Masses: Father Bernard Nickel, O.M.Cap., on
June 25, 1899; Father Edward Heyl, O.M.Cap., on June 24, 1900; Father
Francis X. Vogel, O.M.Cap., on July 1. The preachers on these three
occasions were, Fathers: Agatho Rolf, O.M.Cap., Charles Speckert,
O.M.Cap., and Augustine Noelle, O.M.Cap.
These were days of holy joy both for the Fathers and for the
members of the parish, for they were eloquent proofs of deep spiritual
growth. These priests, too, were the last to confer such distinction
upon the old church. For by this time the old period in the parish
history was passing and a new was dawning. A new church—whose sudden
rise and haunting beauty the pioneers of forty years before had never
dreamed— was under construction. To the new church we must now give