Our History

The Beautiful Story of St. Michael the Archangel Parish

Our Beginnings

The roots of St. Michael the Archangel have been traced to Europe to a town in France called Scherrein, a town in Germany called Bundenthal, and a town in Switzerland called Bern in the early years of the 1850s. Some members of these towns immigrated to New York and took the train to Chicago. Some of the people in Chicago traveled to Indiana by oxen cart to an area later known as St. Michael's in 1852 or 1853. Others traveled different routes to Indiana. 

Fourteen Catholic families settled in Smithfield Township, DeKalb County, Indiana, near the small town of Summit. They met resistance from their neighbors because they did not speak the same language or have the same beliefs. The immigrants all spoke the Bavarian dialect of their native land. They attended St. Francis Xavier Church (built in 1867) in Waterloo, Indiana, once a month. Fr. Zumbulte of Avilla officiated and traveled by horseback to the church.

In 1870, the railroad was completed through Summit with a train depot and post office. The mailing address for the St. Michael's area was Summit (from 1891-1908) until the post office closed and their address became Waterloo. The township trustee built a 24' X 28' frame school house on August 30, 1872 so these new immigrants could learn the language and ways of their new land. This school was built across from the sight of the future church.

November 8, 1879 - Owing to the distance and inconvenience of attending Mass in Waterloo, a meeting was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. John Mathias Shoudel, and was then decided by these 14 members to erect a church 30' X 46'.

The men present at the meeting were (the fourteen founding families): 

John Mathias Shoudel

Michael L. Shoudel, Sr. 

George May

Mathias E. Shoudel

John Miller

Frank Miller

John Hoffelder, Sr. 

George Ellert

Frederick Reinig

Frederick Gfeller, Sr. 

Xavier Smith

Baltazar Shoudel

Michael Leidner

Ferdinand Fetters

 

Families received permission from Rev. Bishop Dwenger of Fort Wayne, Indiana to build a new church near the center of the settlement (where the present church now stands) in 1880. It was located across from the school house. Two acres of land were obtained. One acre was donated by the Shoudel family and one acre was paid for by the fourteen founding families. 

 

Father August Young from Garrett was appointed pastor and he immediately began celebrating Mass in the homes of the parishioners. The building plan was for a 30' X 46' foot structure with a tower and topping cross. The tower and cross were visible from the home of every parishioner. The church was completed, given the name of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, and dedicated by Bishop Dwenger on August 28, 1881. 

 

In April 1881 (while the church was still under construction), John Shoudel fell ill and died. Mrs. John Shoudel donated an acre of land for a cemetery. It was purchased from her son, Michael. John Shoudel was buried near the center of the cemetery. A wooden fence was built to keep grazing cattle off the grave. Additions to the cemetery were given in 1937 and 1938 by Lena Shoudel. 

 

The road did not go between the school and church yet because of the swampy area around the church. The road followed the high ground behind the church where the cemetery was built. 

 

As time progressed, additional land was donated and/or purchased. A rectory was built in 1885. It included a barn because the pastor had a horse, buggy, and a cow. The school teachers also used the barn for their horses. The church was enlarged in 1895.

 

Although the date is not known, St. Francis Xavier parish in Waterloo was dissolved. The church building was moved to St. Michael's and used as a parish hall while Father Juraschek was pastor. The hall was destroyed by fire in 1900.

The Second Church

By 1920, the parish had seventy registered families and had outgrown the first church. The old church was moved across the road in 1920 and made ready to hold services until a new church could be completed. The cost of the move, including wiring, was $272.00. 

Work began on a new church, under the pastoral care of Father Aichinger. The men of the parish dug the basement of the new church with horse and scrappers and poured the basement walls. The dirt from the basement was used for fill to increase the higher ground around the church. Construction of the new church continued in 1921 after winter passed. The bricks for the church arrived at Summit by rail and the men and women of the parish moved them to St. Michael's using teams of horses and wagons. The new church was completed and dedicated in 1922.

The old church was used as a hall for a period of time and then it was torn down and the lumber sold at auction. 

The Second Rectory

The original rectory was destroyed by fire on June 12, 1936. Waste papers being burned in the furnace ignited the wood shingle roof. With a strong North wind, the only thing that saved the church was the stucco covering on the rectory that funnelled the heat over the church. The men of the parish responded by razing the remains of the old rectory. They used teams of horses and slip scrappers to dig a basement. They poured a new basement for the rectory on September 6, 1936. 

Father Lawrence Fettig was at St. Michael's from 1945 to 1953. During his stay, a new organ was purchased, the frosted windows were replaced by stained glass, and the church was redecorated. 

The Church Centennial: 1880-1980

From about 1965-1980 the church basement was divided into classroom areas with moveable partitions, the coal fired boiler was replaced with a gas boiler, and classrooms were added in that area of the basement. A canopy was added to the front of the church, and the church was insulated. The church was painted inside and out, and the interior was newly repainted for the church's Centennial in 1980. A new statue of the Sacred Heart was dedicated in the new section of the cemetery. 

The Church's 125th Anniversary

For the parish's 125th anniversary, the church held an Open House on June 26, 2005. On July 31, 2005, Bishop D'Arcy was invited to celebrate Mass at 10:00 a.m. and enjoy a reception after. A parish picnic was held at Noon on August 28, 2005. A Mass for the Patronal Feast of St. Michael the Archangel was held at 7:00 p.m. on September 29, 2005. 

Our Recent Restoration

 

Under the pastoral care of Father David Carkenord (1989-2018), our church underwent a complete restoration in 2010. We utilized the gym in the Ashley community building for our Masses during the restoration. Amy Buchs painted a large backdrop of Jesus with Easter lillies to decorate the space in the gym. In addition, our neighboring church, Barker's Chapel, allowed us to use their location for Holy Thursday Mass during the Holy Week of that year.

 

The interior of the church was restored to its near-original look. The contractors leading the project were Weigand Construction Company. From top to bottom, the church was completely repainted and stenciled by Chicago-based company, Daprato-Rigali. This is the same family company who did original work on the church. Upon seeing our altar, one of the family members said, "This looks familiar." He proceeded to go behind the altar, and sure enough, found his grandfather's name on the back. The Daprato-Rigalli group also repainted the alcove a stunning navy blue with gold stars.

The floors received terrazzo treatment, complete with a sword and shield at the end of the aisle, paying tribute to our patron saint. The pews were removed and refinished by Eisenhour Church Furnishings from Huron, Ohio. They also reconstructed the hymnal brackets. Three rows of pews were removed to include the addition of a much-needed lobby area, separated by glass. Our original font was modified with a pump and filter system. It was moved from the front of the church, to the lobby area. 

Outside, the canopy on the front entrance was removed. A new one was built to match the brick of the exterior and also make the front doors visible. The exterior doors were refinished. New signage was added to the church and parish office. The Parish Hall in the basement received a makeover, too. New carpet was installed and the walls were repainted.

The finishing work on this massive project included refinishing the stained glass windows. Each window was removed, two at a time, and taken to the Daprato-Rigali studio in Chicago for the work. The glass was cleaned and fixed where needed. The lead was redone. A couple of our parishioners went to see the windows during the process and gave our parish a report as to how it went.

Father Dave purchased a new chalice and ciborium for the parish in recognition of the restoration. 

Our beloved pastor, Father Dave, was called to make this project a reality and leave the church space physically better than what he found it. What we are thankful for most of all, though, is that we could improve our church space for worship and future generations. With our beautiful history to stand on, we are overwhelmingly thankful to build on it and continue our mission of bringing souls to Heaven. St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

Growth of our Parish

 

God has blessed us with a growing, thriving parish.

We give Him all the glory, praise, and thanksgiving!

 

1867 - 14 founding families

1920 - 70 registered families

1980 - 170 registered families

1994 - 312 registered families

Today - 402 registered families