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December Calendar

This month celebrates a number of people who made a difference to the Church in Indiana.

First, Father Joseph Kundek, born August 24, 1810 in Croatia. Father Kunkek is known for many things. Perhaps he is best known as the founder of the town of Jasper and was the man who motivated the Benedictine monks of Ensiedeln Abbey in Switzerland to come to the wilds of southern Indiana to found the Abbey of Saint Meinrad. The Abbey website describe this by saying:

Saint Meinrad Archabbey was founded in 1854 by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland. They came to southern Indiana at the request of a local priest who was seeking help to serve the pastoral needs of the growing German-speaking Catholic population and to prepare local men to be priests.

Father Kundek died on December 4, 1857.

On this Feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6, 1924, Bishop Herman Joseph Alerding, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, died of injuries he received in an automobile accident on Thanksgiving Day. Alerding’s History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes, written in 1883, stands, to date, as the only history of the diocese and archdiocese. There have been other attempts to write the history, but so far it has not happened. Alerding was pastor of the original Saint Jospeh parish in Indianapolis, among others, before being raised to the episcopate.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for Bishop Alerding.

Herman Joseph Alerding
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Herman Joseph Alerding (April 13, 1845″‚ÄĚDecember 6, 1924) was a German-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Fort Wayne from 1900 until his death in 1924.

Herman Alerding was born in Westphalia and, during his infancy, came with his parents to the United States, where they settled in Newport, Kentucky.[1] He received his early education at the parochial school of Corpus Christi Church.[2] His local bishop, George Aloysius Carrell, did not accept him as a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington because he was unable to provide for his seminary expenses, and Alerding was instead accepted by Bishop Jacques-Maurice De Saint Palais of the Diocese of Vincennes.[3] He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Vincennes from 1858 until 1859, when the seminary was closed.[3] He then studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Bardstown, Kentucky, for a year before returning to Indiana in 1860 and entering St. Meinrad Seminary in Spencer County.[2]

After receiving the tonsure and minor orders in September 1865, Alerding was ordained to the subdiaconate on June 18, 1867, and to the diaconate on the following June 21.[2] He was finally ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Saint Palais on September 22, 1868.[4] He then served as a curate at St. Joseph Church in Terre Haute, while also attending to several missions throughout Parke and Sullivan Counties.[2] From 1871 to 1874, he was pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Cambridge City.[1] While at Cambridge City, Alerding calmed a turbulent congregation which had been under interdict for several months, liquidated the parish debt, and purchased a site for a new church.[3]

He was transferred to St. Joseph Church in Indianapolis in 1874, there overseeing the construction of a church, rectory, and parochial school.[3] He briefly served as procurator of the adjoining St. Joseph Seminary until it was closed the following year.[2] In 1883, he published A History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes.[1] He was stricken by typhoid fever and took a trip to Europe in 1884.[3]

On August 30, 1900, Alerding was appointed the fourth Bishop of Fort Wayne by Pope Leo XIII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following November 30 from Archbishop William Henry Elder, with Bishops Denis O’Donaghue and Henry K. Moeller serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.[4] He presided over a diocesan synod in November 1903.[1] His pew-rent policy was expressly opposed by Archbishop Diomede Falconio, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States.[3] During World War I, he established the Fort Wayne Diocesan War Council.[3] In a pastoral letter issued in December 1918, Alerding declared, “We deserved the infliction of this terrible war and its awful consequences.”[3] Under Alerding’s administration, the number of diocesan priests nearly doubled from 109 in 1900 to 210 in 1925.[3] In 1900, the diocese had 102 churches with resident pastors, 39 mission churches, and 73 parochial schools; in 1924, there were 148 churches with resident pastors, 31 mission churches, and 106 parochial schools.[3]

Alerding later died at age 79. He had been in critical condition since he was injured in an automobile accident the previous November.[5]

1. “Fort Wayne”. Catholic Encyclopedia.
2. Alerding, Herman Joseph (1907). The Diocese of Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne: The Archer Printing Company.
3. White, Joseph M. (2007). Worthy of the Gospel of Christ: A History of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
4. “Bishop Herman Joseph Alerding”.
5. “Bishop Herman J. Alerding”. The New York Times. 1924-12-07.

December 8th, marks the anniversary of the death of Bishop Joseph Chartrand. He was born in Saint Louis, studied at St. Meinrad and joined the Diocese of Vincennes. He was noticed by Bishop Chatard and moved through the ranks of the clergy and eventually succeeded Chatard as Bishop of Indianapolis. He was a very complex individual. While Bishop of Indianapolis he was named Archbishop of Cincinnati, but he declined it, choosing to remain in Indianapolis. There has been a lot of speculation as to ‘why’, but no one seems to know for sure. The best explanation came from the late Msgr. John Doyle, former archivist of the Archdiocese, who said it was because of his love for Indianapolis and because of the financial situation of the diocese. Chatard wanted to clear the financial situation up and was apparently embarrassed by it. This was during the time of the Great Depression in the United States.

December 13th marks the birthday of Bishop Francis Silas Marean Chatard. His baptismal name was Silas and he changed it to Francis upon his becoming a bishop. Marean was his mother’s maiden name. Chatard began his episcopal career as the Bishop of Vincennes and he was responsible for moving the see to Indianapolis. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland and his family had connections with Elizabeth Seton. His father, Ferdinand Chatard, attended Mount Saint Mary’s with Elizabeth Seton’s sons. Silas attended school at Mount Saint Mary’s as well. His sister, Juliana was a member of the Sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg. Chatard’s birth came just 5 1/2 short weeks after Bishop Simon Brute took possession of the Cathedral in Vincennes.


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