Parish History

Saint Aloysius Catholic Church was founded in 1858 and has been serving Allen and Wells Counties ever since. We are located on Bluffton Road, just south of the 469 Overpass. The parish consists of a beautiful church with a close-knit community of faith and a school staffed with excellent teachers and administrators committed to each and every one of its students.

In 1867 a small frame building schoolhouse was built and was used for two to three months per year. On October 9, 1876, the school was opened and in 1882, a two-story brick building was built. Pupils were first taught by the Sisters of St. Agnes and then by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Since that time, Saint Aloysius Catholic School is the oldest, continuously run, Catholic school in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese. Over 140 years of education and tradition are now the foundation for excellence. Strong Catholic values such as morality and integrity coupled with high academic achievement are the cornerstone of our foundation. From that foundation we continue to build a new sense of excellence

Today, this school maintains small class sizes and a family environment with a concentration on Christian formation and academic growth. This school is fully accredited with standardized testing scores consistently above state average, high attendance rates, and individual academic progress. St. Aloysius has a strong and rich tradition of excellence and is accepting applications at any time. Our teachers pay attention to your child every day.

 

Historical markers

 

Some historical milestones at St. Aloysius The following milestones are from the parish history book, which was researched and written by St. Aloysius parishioner Connor Loesch.

• In 1858, Bishop John Henry Luers, the first bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, assigned Father Jacob Mayer, then pastor of St. Mary's Parish, Decatur, Ind., to help the Catholic families in Pleasant Township.

• In 1858 Father Mayer said the first Mass in the area in the house of Fred Weaver, then on the northeast corner of what is now Interstate 469 and Bluffton Road. Sixteen families participated in the celebration of Mass. Thereafter, Father Mayer visited the area on the third Friday of every month. The Miller and Harber families were very instrumental in organizing the parish.

• There is unsubstantiated folklore indicating that the initial name for the parish was to have been Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mrs. (Mary Magdelene) Miller asked to have the parish be established under the name and patronage of  St. Aloysius. Since she and her husband (Christian Miller) had donated the land, her wishes prevailed.

• In 1859 Father Mayer had erected a small frame church, 29x36 feet in size on the site. On Dec. 24, 1859, Bishop Luers paid Mr. John Harber $50. for an additional plot of land to add to that already donated by the Millers. It appears that this acquisition was done to expand the land available for a cemetery.

• As the parish grew, in 1875 Father Joseph Nussbaum added a sacristy, spire, and a new roof, all at a total cost of $1,400. There were 65 families in the parish by that time.

• On July 31, 1876, Bishop Joseph Dwenger, who had replaced Bishop Luers, assigned Father Ferdinand Koerdt as the first resident pastor of the new parish. In addition to St. Aloysius, Father Koerdt served Bluffton as a mission church.

• Although he had only been at the parish since July, and he was only 23 years old, Father Koerdt immediately began work establishing a school. He opened the school, a small frame building, on Oct. 17, 1876, with 38 pupils. In 1877, Father completed a brick rectory at a cost $3,500. In 1882 he built a two-story brick school, at a cost of $4,000. At this time the school had 54 children.

• Father Koerdt contracted with the Sisters of St. Agnes, of Fond du Lac, Wis., to provide teaching services. This order of sisters taught in the school until 1921. The sisters lived a rather primitive life. Some years they kept chickens on a back porch and they tended a small garden. Through the years, the parishioners were generous to both the priests and nuns with homegrown vegetables, fruit, meat, etc.

• In 1882, the two-story brick schoolhouse was erected at a cost of $4,000. The cornerstone was laid on Aug. 10,  and the building was dedicated on Nov. 6, 1882. The Right Reverend Msgr. Julian Benoit, vicar general of the diocese, officiated at the ceremony. At the time, it was claimed that the school could accommodate up to 150 pupils, with 75 children and four grades in each classroom for one teacher. In 1882, there were 40 families in the parish and 45 children in the school

• In 1922 a new frame convent was built and the services of the Sisters of Saint Joseph from Tipton were obtained. They taught in the school until the end of the 1970 school year.

• The original frame church building had brick siding added in 1922. At that time a basement was dug underneath the original structure. Teams of horses were used to raise the frame structure.

• It is clear from the records that, from early on in history, the parish picnics were a big fundraiser for the parish. These were usually held on Labor Day and involved the entire parish providing a big chicken dinner. Initially the dinners were held in a huge tent. After the church basement was dug in 1922, the dinners were held down there.

• When the Sisters of Saint Joseph, from Tipton, Ind., who had been teaching in the school, left in 1970, the priests began to use their former convent as the rectory. The old brick rectory was demolished in 1972.

• A building committee consisting of Sol Andorfer, James Palmer, Robert Freiburger, Jacob Harber and Everett Redding reviewed all the needs of the school, and plans were made to erect a four-room school with a basement for a meeting space. Bids were received in April 1955.  The building was completed by November. The first two months of the 1955-56 school year classes were taught in the auditorium and stage of the Pleasant Center Public School.

• The school continued to grow reaching its highest enrollment in 1983 with 142 students. In 1996, under the direction of Father William Hodde, a new committee was formed to explore the future needs of the parish school.

• It was decided to embark on a capital campaign to raise $1.5 million to add five new classrooms, a library, an office area, and a community center/gymnasium. Don Andorfer assumed the leadership role in raising the funds for this construction. In 2001 the construction was complete and the building addition was opened with Bishop John D'Arcy presiding and blessing the new building. 

Read more history in this document.

 
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