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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
June 17, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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June 17, 1990

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PAGE 10 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC JUNE 17, 1990 By Jane Browning Special to Arkansas Catholic The going was rough in the early days of the settlement at Dixie in eastern Perry County. The raw, hilly and tim- bered country posed a mighty challenge to the 2fi families of German, Swiss and Irish pioneers who came there in the 1870s. It was the intervention of Fr. Aegid- ius Henne- mann, OSB, '" " .... Vicar General of the Diocese, that helped to . firmly establish the farming community. He approached the Choctaw Okla- homa and Gulf Railroad (later the Rock Is- land) and re- cruited its em- ployees as addi- tional settlers for Dixie. To- gether, the members of the expanded town cultivated the land and estab- lished busi- nesses such as Hample's Gen- St. Boniface, Dixie, undated. eral Mercantilewhich also served as Dixie's early post office. The parish was established in 1879, and Ft. Hennemann visited the remote settlement every other month, using the ferry to cross the river from Conway. He celebrated Mass in the family homes of first Stephen Lipsmeyer and then a Mr. Weyer. Eventually, Fr. Felix Rumpf, OSB, was appointed pastor of the small parish, and he began operating a school out of a log cabin in the early 1880s. Fr. Matthew Seattele, OSB, built the par- sonage and convent in 1883, and brought nuns from St. Scholastica Con- vent at Shoal Creek to educate the children. These were boom years in the Arkan- sas timber trade, and Perry County's vir- gin forests were the scene of activity for the major lumber com- panies of the era. Between the. lumber camps and the railroad, the commu- nity grew and prospered. Fr. Boniface Spanke, OSB, became pas- tor and at- tended to the spiritual needs of the laborers in the camps and the rail- road workers. He also served St. Elizabeth par-- (Courtsey Diocesan Archives) ish in Conway County as a mission from Dixie. The first St. Boniface church was erected in 190I on 40 acres of land donated by the Choctaw Railroad Com- pany. A German made altar, trimmed in gold, was purchased for $300 by a Mrs. Willie. Fr. Othmar came from Subiaco to serve Dixie, where he would be pastor for 20 years. It was on a Sunday in 1906 that trag- ~ILLLLLLLLLLLLLL~.L.~LL FEED CO. . Pocahontas EL,P.LLLLLLZLZLLLLLLLL.~ dLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL, Call JOE DOLAN INSURANCE AGENCY . " England, AR , Mr. msurance...all lines ot coverage.' Shop us first... edy struck. As Fr. Othmar was saying Mass, a fire broke out in the convent. It spread quickly to the church, consum- ing both buildings. The parishioners were able only to save the altar, which is still in use today. Oswald Miller built the present church in 1907 of lumber cut from the church property and sawn by the Fourche River Lumber Company. By this time, the settlement of Dixie had migrated about two and one-half miles to the southeast, and was referred to as New Dixie. The church was crowned with a 95- foot bell tower topped by a five-foot gold-plated cross. As Miller was com- pleting the top of the steeple, he slipped and fell but, through what he deemed an act of God, caught himself on the scaffold beneath and escaped serious injury. A one-room building with a stage served as school for the parish until 1947. In these days, Fr. Lawrence Maus was pastor, a man who persuaded the community of Dixie to commence rais- ing cucumbers, beans and tomatoes for the Atkins Pickle factory, in addition to the cotton, fruit orchards and livestock traditionally grown in the area. In 1948, a large building called St. Boniface Hall and School was erected. In 1958, the high school classes con- . solidated with Bigelow, and in 1969 the two-room school with 32 students in eight grades closed permanently. Fr.John F. Hlavacek was pastor from 1964-74. During this time, steel siding was added to the old frame church's exterior. As a new pastor, Fr. Henry A. Bahz was en route from Pine Bluff to report to New Dixie on Feb. 17, 1976, when lightning struck St. Boniface Hall with its classrooms and they burned com- pletely. Several neighbors rushed to the scene but the fire bumed out electric wires, disabling the water pump. A bucket brigade hauled water from a drainage ditch to prevent spread of the flames to the nearby parish church and rectory. One of Fr. Baltz's first tasks was to plan and build a fine new hall which included a kitchen, bath, four class- rooms, and storage areas in addition to the main hall area of 60' x 80'. The hall was built for an estimated $60,000, with the men of the parish donating most of the labor. Wallace Simon of Little Italy was the contractor, and the build- ing was completed under the guidance of Fr. James R. Savary. The hall was dedicated by Bishop An- drewJ. McDonald on April 17, 1977. It provides an excellent place for dinners, dances, meetings and for CCD classes. Fr. Savary remained pastor until 1981. There are now 370 members, and Fr. James West is the pastor. parishes remain open Seattle (CNS) - Seattle Archbishop : Raymond G. Hunthausen announced June 6 that he plans to maintain all 133 parishes in the archdiocese despite ! a shortage of priests to serve them. The archbishop said that, despite an anticipated one-third reduction in parish priests by 2000, five new parishes are planned by then to help meet an expected 20 percent increase in the archdiocese's estimated Cathofic popu- lation of 317,000. To help bridge the gap, priests will share pastoral duties "wherever pos- sible," Hunthausen said, and more non- ordained people will be hired as "paro- chial ministers, in parishes where there are no full-time priests. The seventh layperson to head a parish in the archdiocese was to be appointed in July. Some 500 profes- sional lay minsters already assist pastors in the archdiocese. The number of parish priests is expected to decrease from 160 to 10fi S by the year 2000 due to death and : retirement. Rev. Michael McDermott, director of a project to meet parish ministerial needs, said every parish will have a priest assigned to it, although some priests will be assigned to more than one parish. In those circumstances, arise when the priest will not be avail" able for Sunday Mass or other sacra" mental duties. "We'll have to learn how to accept someone other than a priest presiding at a baptism, wedding or funeral," McDermott said. ,:, In those cases, he said, a deacon or layperson will conduct a service that would include Scripture readings distribution Of previously hosts. "Our goal is to help parishes continue to be vital, caring communities that celebrate the faith," McDermott said. Coadjutor Archbishop Thomas J" Murphy said 1,100 names were submit', ted earlier this year when the archdiO" cese asked Catholics to give names of persons they thought might by inter" ested in serving the Church. Of the 1,100 people, 400 expressed : interest in information sessions on possible church careers. Forty were potential priesthood candidates, the archbishop said. Local news Announcements Feature story Ideas REWARD: Art award-winnlng . diocesan newspaper! ARKANSAS CATHOLIC P.O. Box 7417 Little Rock 72217