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8B Vermillion Plain Talk Heritage 2016, www.plaintalk.net St. Agnes Church Has Played A Vital Role In History Of Vermillion DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK Editor’s note: This information is taken from a thesis titled “The First Catholic Church in Dakota,” written in 1975 by Douglas James Rasmussen. Although Father Wolf left Vermillion in 1965 for semiretirement at St. Joseph's Church in Emmet, his spirit lingered with the community in several forms. On the seven and one-half acre cornfield, which the parish purchased under his guidance in 1960, stood a beautiful new school with a four hundred seat auditorium named in his honor. The residential area that grew up around the tract was known as the St. Agnes Addition. A year after he left, his family and friends started the Father Hugh K. Wolf Newman Scholarship award, and upon his death it became a memorial scholarship for university students. There were living testaments to his presence everywhere. Rev. Leonard F. Stanton replaced Father Wolf. He was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on July 17, 1916, the son of Patrick Stanton and Veronica Cronan Stanton. He recelved a B.A. degree with honors from Boston College in l938 and entered St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. On Jan. 6, 1943, Cardinal Richard Gushing, Archbishop of Boston, ordained him. His first duties included assisting at St. Bridget's Church in Abington, Massachusetts, and later St. Joseph's in Malden. He came to the Diocese of Sioux Falls on May 20, 1946, as part of Cardinal Gushing's "lendlease" program, and assumed a position as assistant pastor at St. Therese Church in Sioux Falls. He left in 1948 to become administrator at St. Mary's Parish in Bryant, with missions at Vienna and Willow Lake. He remained there one year, and in 1949 became the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church at Lesterville. His duties there also included attending the needs of the mission at Sigel. He stayed there for 10 years, until transferred to St. Bernard Parish in Redfield. He served at Redfield from 1959 to 1965, when he moved to St. Mary's in Salem. In October of 1965, he came to Vermillion to replace the ailing Father Wolf. Father Stanton was a priest with diverse interests, and a great deal of experience. He was particularly concerned with youth. In fact, he served Constructed of cherry red pressed brick with cement casings, and adorned with large and small stained glass windows, the old St. Agnes Church building was completed in 1907. Today, it is known as the Washington Street Arts Center. in the spring of 1974, the council decided to sell St. Agnes church. The church had taken on a special meaning for the people of the parish, serving as a symbol of their faith. The congregation, however, had experienced a period of growth, encompassing approximately 420 families in 1974, and the existing church became too small for major liturgical functions. BELOW: The current St. Agnes Church location also houses the location of Vermillion’s Catholic Elementary School. as Plymouth Deanery Director of the Catholic Youth Organization when he was a young assistant pastor in Massachusetts. Since 1949, he was Boy Scout chaplain for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. He was regional scout liaison for the Providence of St. Paul, and served as a national chairman on the religious emblems committee. In addition, he helped set the requirements for the Boy Scout religious awards program. He attended college-age youth as a Newman Center chaplain, and engaged in lectures, retreats, and conferences for college students. He was one of the first 12 priests to be elected to the Priest's Senate of the Diocese, newly formed in 1966, and on Jan. 1, 1968, he became vice president of the Vermillion Ministerial Association. On Jan. 6, 1968, Father Stanton observed his 25th anniversary of ordination, and an estimated 250 guests, friends, relatives, and civic leaders gathered in the Father Wolf Auditorium to pay tribute to him. Father Stanton ministered to the parish until Aug. 13, 1969, when he was replaced by Father Jerome Holtzman. In 1969, the St. Agnes Parish Council, with the guidance of Father Holtzman, began Father Flood: St. Agnes’ Shepherd For Nearly 50 Years Editor’s note: This information is taken from a thesis titled “The First Catholic Church in Dakota,” written in 1975 by Douglas James Rasmussen. In 1902, Reverend Thomas L. Flood arrived in Vermillion, and for almost half a century he was the shepherd to the flock at St. Agnes. So profound was his influence that his successors jocularly referred to the three eras of the church as the pre-alluvion, alluvion, and postalluvion. Father Flood was born at Dayton (Brooklwyn), Wisconsin, on Jan. 1, 1871, the son of James Flood and to consider the feasibility of consolidating the church and school into a single complex, as envisioned in the fourth phase of the architect's plans drawn for Father Wolf in 1959. in the spring of 1974, the council decided to sell St. Agnes church. The church built by Father Flood in 1906 had, over the years, taken on a special meaning for the people of the parish, serving as a symbol of their faith. The congregation, however, had experienced a period of growth, encompassing approximately 420 families in 1974, and the existing church became too small for major liturgical functions. The church was 68 years old, and in need of major interior, exterior, and structural renovation. Also, the church and rectory were 18 blocks from the school and parish hall on the opposite side of the city. Finally, sale of the church, rectory, and adjacent property to the north and west enabled the parish to eliminate a $68,000 debt. The church real estate committee, under the leadership of Ted Dolney, George Ballard, and Duane Brunick, sold the church to the Church of the Nazarene for $24,000. Separate parties purchased the lots to the north for $8,000 and the rectory for almost $30,000. Bridget Murray Flood. In 1892, he entered St. Joseph's College, Dubuque, Iowa, as a student in the classics department. He graduated in 1897 and entered St. Paul Seminary. On June 1, 1901, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Ireland, for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. He served as assistant pastor at Yankton for about three months, then moved to Watertown where he served from September 1901 to May 1902. On June 1, 1902, he became the minister at Elk Point, and then, on October 1, 1902, he came to St. Agnes, the parish he would attend for the next 48 years. When Father Flood came to St. Agnes, he was a young priest, full of enthusiasm and energy for the tasks which lay ahead. One of them was the continuation of the fund drive to make the construction of a new church a reality. He dedicated his first five years at St. Agnes to that end. After selling the church, the parish held services in the auditorium of the school, and converted classrooms for use as a parish office and chapel. The decision to sell the church before building a new one was not accepted by all members of the parish, and a minor and ineffectual protest resulted from the committee action. For over 150 years, St. Agnes Parish has served the Vermillion area through the church in Fairview, the church in Vermillion, and the mission at Garryowen. It has functioned as a vehicle for Father Flood was an unusual man. He was extremely intelligent, and as a result, most parishioners held him in awe. A solitary man, a "loner," he took daily walks, always along the same route, from the parsonage to the public library. It was said that he had read every book there, some more often than once. He had an aristocratic bearing, a Spartan look, as if he were a Bishop of the Church of England strolling across a moor. Each day he returned home along the railroad tracks, meditating and saying his daily prayers. Father Flood believed in tradition and allowed no variations, either in his daily walk or in his sermons. Approximately the same time each year he preached a sermon from one of the Gospels, which he confessed he did not understand completely, but it was a tradition, and Father Flood did not break traditions easily. Each Sunday he said two masses, socialization and recreation through its scouting program, the Knights of Columbus, Sewing Circle, Altar Society, Catholic Daughters, raffles, bazaars, and bake sales. This was particularly important in the early years before the automobile made travel so easy. It has provided the people with a sense of community, for both local residents and college students. This has manifested itself in many ways, and there has been a great deal of pride in the attempt to build a better community. The church has performed important legal and quasi-legal functions as and became annoyed if a church wanted to receive communion at the second mass, for it was his custom to distribute Communion to the parish at the first mass, and, generally, only visitors sought Communion at the second. Father Flood considered the church a beautiful, personal religious experience, and he always sought perfection. He did not allow the altar boys to give their responses during mass, but rather preferred to take their part as well as his own so that inferior replies would not be given. He was always shocked if a new altar boy responded during the mass. He never owned an automobile. Even as a young priest, the people thought of him as being old. He refused to have assistants, and the Diocese never interfered with him very much, perhaps because he was competent and always met their well as spiritual ones through marriage, baptism, and the other sacraments. It has offered a Catholic, Christian alternative to public education and in the early years provided educational services not always available elsewhere. Through the humanitarian activities of the church members, sisters and clergy, it has helped the community at large by caring for the sick, the poor, and others in spiritual or material need. Most importantly, through liturgy and the sacrements, the church has fulfilled the spiritual needs of the people. financial needs. When he died, he left all of his property and personal monies, a substantial amount, to the parish. Shortly after the turn of the century, during the era of Theodore Roosevelt, the nation was aggressive, dynamic, and self-confident. During this period, the church, under Father Flood, was also vital and expansionistic. Father Flood dedicated most of his life to the people of his parish. When he died, on Jan. 10, 1950, at St. Bernard's Hospital in Council Bluffs, Iowa, after a six month illness, it was a day of great sadness for the people of St. Agnes Parish. A pillar in the foundation of their spiritual lives had been removed. It was only proper that he was buried in Vermillion among the people he loved and served so faithfully for so many years. Worship. Remember. Celebrate. Connect. Photo courtesy of Christian Begeman, Prairie Sanctuaries Rural Vermillion, SD dalesburglutheran.org Every Sunday 9:15 a.m.
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