The Mission of the Catholic people of Northcentral Indiana is to proclaim the Kingdom of God,
to praise the name of Jesus, and follow Him by
LOVING....God and our neighbor, especially those in need;
WORSHIPPING...God as a faith community in word and sacrament;
RESPONDING...to ongoing personal conversion;
TEACHING...of the Gospel message in the Catholic tradition; and
ENGAGING...in renewal, outreach, evangelization, and ecumenical cooperation.
We, the people of the Local Church, gathered by the power of the Holy Spirit,
are committed to responsible stewardship of our human and financial resources.
Our Patron Saint
Saint Cecilia (Latin: Sancta Caecilia) is the patroness of musicians. It is written that as the musicians played at her wedding she "sang in her heart to the Lord". Her feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic,
Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches on November 22. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
St. Cecilia Faith Family Community was established as a Mission parish by the Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, the Most Reverend John George Bennett on July 22, 1952. Bishop Bennett had just closed St. Cecilia parish on Vine Street in Fairmount, Grant County, where it had existed since the 1900’s. As he sold its property in 1952, it is likely he used some of the money for purchase of DeMotte land when he asked Fr. Don Hardebeck, pastor of Sorrowful Mother parish in Wheatfield, to name the mission in honor of St. Cecilia. $2000 came from the Diocesan Mission Fund and $1000 from Wheatfield parish for the gift to start the parish. Our Mission parish was served by the Pastor of our founding mother Parish of Sorrowful Mother in Wheatfield, until St. Cecilia was established for the northwestern parts of Jasper County as an independent parish by Bishop Raymond Gallagher, then the bishop of Lafayette-in-Indiana on October 1, 1974.
Father Hardebeck broke ground for the first church on 10th Street just one year after we were created as a Mission Parish, on July 22, 1953. Designed by Krol and Hastrup, Engineers, Inc., Chicago, the mission church of St. Cecilia’s cost $30,624, which was some $20,000 below its completed value because more than 40 volunteers worked on it. There were 52 families in the mission parish. Fr. Hardebeck celebrated Mass for the first time in St. Cecilia Church on Easter Sunday 1954. On June 20, 1954, Bishop Bennett came from Lafayette to formally dedicate the new church.
The first church was intended to become a rectory with a garage as the parish grew. From 1954 until 1974, the pastors of Sorrowful Mother parish in Wheatfield came to celebrate one Mass on Sundays. By 1967 St. Cecilia’s had grown to about 100 families, and in 1976 there were over 300 families. It became evident the intended site would be impractical. The 20 acres which Bishop Gallagher had purchased from John Toppen were selected as the site where our present church and facilities would be erected. Father Fox broke ground for the new St. Cecilia Church on May 15, 1977. The construction contract was awarded to Hamstra Builders, DeMotte. The facility includes the church, offices, and parish hall, along with plenty of parking space. It seats 400 people and has a Blessed Sacrament Chapel for weekday Mass, with additional space in the Choir and Crying Angels rooms. The hall capacity is 250. The Rectory and Administration Building were also erected at the site in time for the dedication. At that time the old church was sold and now serves the community as the public library.
In 1979, St. Cecilia parish adopted the parish of St Christopher, in Claxton, Georgia.
Father Don Hardebeck was the first pastor of the mission church, and remained until June 1957.
Rev. Jeldo Schiavone June 1957 ~ June 1958
Rev. Fredrick Perry June 1958 ~ June 1967
Rev. James O'Neil June 1967 ~ July 1970
Rev. James Goodrum July 1970 ~ July 1971
Rev. David Clifford July 1971 ~ Oct. 1974
Father Richard Cooley was the first resident Pastor of St. Cecilia Church. In 1973 the two houses at the corner of 10th and Birch Sts were purchased to be Fr. Cooley's house and office. He stayed at St. Cecilia's from Oct. 1974 ~ March 1976.
Fr. Robert Moran was temporary administrator from March 1976 ~ June 1976
Fr. Thomas Fox June 1976 ~ July 1984
Fr. Edward Stone July 1984 ~ July 1987
Fr. Paul Wicklum July 1987 ~ July 2008
Msgr Robert Sell July 2008 ~ July 2013 (administrator)
Fr. David Hellmann July 2013 ~ July 2015
Fr. Dennis Faker July 2015 ~ present
On an historic note, this land became Indiana territory only on October 15,1857, when president Millard Fillmore sold it to Indiana at the Winamac land office, under the provisions of the 1850 “Act to Enable the State of Arkansas and other states to reclaim the swamplands within their limits.” Prior to 1850 this area of the Kankakee Valley had been marshlands, used mostly for hunting and other sports. The Potawatomi Indians used the “Indian Ridge” trail from Valparaiso to Rensselaer and hunted in this area. Even though this area under France, England, Virginia, and the United States remained unsettled until after the Civil War, we know that the first Catholics passed through here on Rober Cavalier Sieur de la Salle's excursion on 1679, when he was accompainied by Franciscan Fathers Gabrield e la Ribourde and Zenobius Membre.
The Pennsylvania Dutch and German immigrants who settled here did the actual tilling and ditching. It is interesting to note St. Cecilia parish in Fairmount was also a Pennsylvania Dutch and Quaker settlement in its origins. For a while Wheatfield was known as “Das Badische Settlement” from the number of people from Baden who farmed the area. Later, other Catholics of Slavic, Polish, and other Eastern European origins located here.
Father Joseph A Stephan, who had a vacation home in San Pierre, is well-known for his “home Masses” in this area. Coming from Lafayette, he persuaded the Franciscans from St. Boniface Church to take the railroad train to administer the sacraments to settlers; after this the Precious Blood Fathers from Rensselaer would come to these missions. There were 13 families at the actual dedication of Sorrowful Mother mission on May 1, 1887. By 1937, there were 51 families of 237 persons. Sorrowful Mother became a parish of the Lafayette diocese in September 1945. Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Victory Noll, Huntington, who had a mission house in San Pierre, would come to teach catechism.