From the 75th Jubilee Book
The First Church
Two generous men appeared at the scene at this particular time, one a Catholic, one a Protestant, John Ast and William Hollis. Both men were excellent carpenters. These two men agreed to build the church with free labor. This generous offer gave the church building project an auspicious start. The material, purchased in Wichita and Garden Plain, at an outlay of $700, was hauled by the parishioners to the church site, which was a half mile west of the present church site. It had been decided to build a frame church, 24 by 40 feet, with a small steeple, John Ast bossed the construction work.
The small frame church structure was almost completed when many of the parishioners began to doubt the choice of the site. It was argued that the church ought to be moved a half mile east, to crown a spacious hilltop- a superb location. Besides, more church property was available there, five acres, ready to be deeded freely to the parish the moment the church was moved. To settle this question a balloting was proposed. Work on the church building was temporarily halted. The people assembled in the chu,rch building and there cast their votes. The ayes-for a new site-won almost unanimously. The proposed new church site should be accepted.
And so it was. John Ast was ordered to supervise the moving of the church to the new site. This was quite a task, but successfully accomplished. Oxen, bending under their yokes, pulled the church, set on wooden sleds and rollers, to the new site. In early 1880 the church was ready for occupancy. Father Schurtz, pastor of St. Marks, celebrated the first Mass in the church. All the parishioners and very many of their friends from St. Marks were present in Ost on that memorable day. It was the first gala day in the history of the young settlement-on that day St. Joseph’S Parish, Ost, Kansas, was born.
From that spring day in 1880 to the fall of 1886 the Ost parish was a mission of St. Marks. The priests who served the Ost congregation during those six years were, in the order of their coming and going; Father Schurtz, Father Kraus, Father Schmiehausen, and Father Mauer. These priests served the new mission zealously and laid well the foundations of the parochial life that fifty years later was to blossom out into one of the finest rural parishes in the Wichita diocese.
From the first pages of an old financial book we learn that a committee was appointed consisting of Friederick Ast, George Thiemmesch and John Cykowskyto take charge of the building work and to collect the funds. Thus $149 . 50 was obtained in early 1879 and in the summer of the same year $278.00 from the poor parishioners and good friends of the present St. Mark’s Parish.
During the years from 1880 to 1886 a few more Catholic families drifted into the Ost community. The congregation felt elated. All the farmers received a boost by the building of the railroad to Garden Plain in 1884, and two years later Colwich and Andale communities were also served with a spur line connecting Wichita with Hutchinson. This brought the grain market considerably nearer home. But for a time, even the advent of the railroad seemed in vain. A vast farm area was reluctant to yield its fruit. Crop failures forced the Ost settlers to practice strict frugality and economy.
The trying years witnessed however, the spiritual growth of the settlement. Their faith, tried by God in various ways, was never found wanting. On Sundays the entire parish attended the Holy Sacrifice in the little frame church. The people took pride in their church and were reverential to their priest. This genuine Catholic devotion and zeal could have but one result in the growing parish – a resident pastor.
The real need for a resident pastor was mentioned freely towards the end of the year 1885. For one thing, the people desired , church services more frequently. The pastor of St. Mark’s had been doing the best he could. But the eleven mile drive by team was a hardship, a long and slow journey. Hence, because of his work at home, the priest at St. Mark’s could not serve the Ost congregation as efficiently as was desired. Moreover, the matter of sick calls was a grave concern in the community. For every Catholic wishes to die with the consolations of the Sacraments. So the people said: “We have a church why not our own pastor? Why not Mass every day? We can support a resident pastor.” Father Maurer of St. Mark’s, therefore encouraged the people to build a little rectory and then through him ask for a pastor. The frame rectory was built. The application for a resident pastor was sent to the bishop at Leavenworth.
On September 24, 1886, the Rev. Joseph Hartman was sent to Ost to become the first resident pastor. The good Bishop Louis M. Fink, had favored the ple,as of the devout congregation. Great rejoicing took place at Ost upon the arnval of Father Hartman. He was welcomed by a special committee, who in the name of the congregation promised steadfast loyalty and co-operation. Father Hartman began at once to establish socities like the Altar Society, the Apostleship of Prayer, the Rosary Confraternity and the Third Order of St. Francis. Also many building repairs and improvements were made. It may be of interest to mention that the parish baptismal record was begun by Father Hartman on May 5, 1886, on which day he baptized John Baptist, son of Nicholas and Anna Meier. During the Sixty nine years that have now elapsed, 1249 names have been addedto the baptismal register. Some few names of converts and also of Irish descent are mentioned.lding work and to collect the funds. Thus $149 . 50 was obtained in early 1879 and in the summer of the same year $278.00 from the poor parishioners and good friends of the present St. Mark’s Parish.