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History of

St. Sebastian Catholic Church

In 1858 the Bishop went from Owensboro to Calhoun in McLean County located on the Green River, twenty-two miles away. That evening he preached there to a large audience composed almost entirely of Protestants, there being but two Catholic families in the town. At Rumsey, on the opposite side of the river, there were five or six Catholic families. The sermon, which consisted of an explanation of Catholic doctrine on those points which are most understood by Protestants, was listened to with profound attention and seemed to make a good impression upon the people who had seldom, if ever had an opportunity to hear the Catholic religion explained and vindicated.

Permission was granted June 6, 1858 to form a new parish in Calhoun. St. Sebastian Parish, McLean County, Calhoun, Kentucky was organized by Reverend Eugene O'Callaghan from Owensboro. Holy Mass was celebrated at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Quirk. The altar was a crude homemade altar. The pictures used on the altar now hang in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Quirk of Calhoun. Mass was celebrated whenever possible, sometimes more than a month passed between Masses.

An undertaking to further organize the parish was begun by Reverend Paul Volk, Pastor of St. Alphonsus and Maple Mount, Kentucky. Father Volk was born in Hunsfield, Germany in 1841 of a wealthly family. He was reared by his mother, his father died while he was still a boy. At the age of twenty-four he became a priest and soon afterward decided to become a missionary in America. In the summer of 1869 he came to Kentucky. Besides building St. Alphonsus Church and buildings at Maple Mount, Father Volk built twenty-four other churches, one of which was St. Sebastian. At his mission in Calhoun, he erected St. Sebastian church, a frame building. At Beech Grove, he built St. Benedicts. Father Volk purchased the property for St. Sebastian April 25, 1871, from Samuel Johnson. He started immediately on building the church which was ready in the fall of 1871.

The first record of the administration of Confirmation at the mission of St. Sebastian dates Wednesday, October 29, 1891. The Right Reverend, William George McCloskey, Bishop of Louisville confirmed seven.

In 1896, Reverend Louis Herberth took charge of the Mission. He was pastor of St. Martin Church in Rome, Kentucky. He worked very hard; travel alone was very difficult at the time. When Father Herberth died, the pastors who succeeded him at Rome continued to administer to the Catholics at the Mission at Calhoun.

Father Volk died at Mount St. Joseph November 2, 1919. He was buried November 3, 1919 in the Mount St. Joseph Cemetery.

During 1937 and 1938 there were some fifteen families at the Mission of St. Sebastian, all of whom remained loyal to the church in spite of the hardships they had to endure. Father Nahstoll and Father Borntraeger were pastors at St. Martin and took care of these families.

During the Fall of 1947, the Mission of St. Sebastian was transferred to Brown Valley. Father Higdon was pastor and Father O'Bryan and Father Walter Hancock were assistants. Until now the people had not had the privilige of attending regular Sunday Mass. Through the tireless effforts of many priests and fifteen families, St. Sebastian had made quite an advancement in its effort to strengthen the church in spirit and growth.

About 1952, Father Libbs started the parish in a drive to move from the old church to the present location to form a parish school. this goal was reached only by mush hard work from Father Libbs, Father Fisher, and many parish members. A roller skating ring was bought from Chester Stratton. Mrs. Ollie Belle Leachman heard that Father Libbs wanted a new site for the church, so she purchased the skating ring and sold it to the church. Father Libbs sold the old church to the Baptists and Christians of Calhoun because their property joined that of the Catholic Church. With many prayers and hard work, the skating ring was turned into a school, recreation hall and church.

In the fall of 1952 the school was ready and two sisters from Mount St. Joseph, Sister Mary Rene and Sister Jane Hancock (sister to Reverend Walter Hancock), came to teach the eight grades. They lived above the classrooms. Many families came to the parish so their children could get a Catholic education. The children were not allowed to ride to public school buses, so the people had to supply their own transportation until they purchased a school bus of their own. St. Sebastian had its First Communion in the new church November 25, 1953 and first Confirmation March 14, 1954.

Picnics were held to raise funds for upkeep of the parish. The picnics were held at the park at Calhoun and Mr. Estil Clark and Mr. Alex Quirk were in charge. The parish continued to have picnics for about twenty years. Then because of a few helpers, the parish decided to take up collections to help the parish instead. The school had to be discontinued because of the lack of teachers. Bishop Soenneker wrote a letter to the people that the school had to discontinued at the end of the school year 1967, and the Catholic children could go to St. Martin, Rome, Kentucky.

In 1972 St. Sebastian and St. Charles, Livermore, joined together in their education of the children in the Catholic faith. The C.C.D. program was organized, with much help from the sisters and lay people. A special thanks is paid to George and Carol Rhodes of Livermore, who greatly helped with the C.C.D program at St. Sebastian and St. Charles. They put forth a special effort and helped with various programs, plays, etc. through the years.

Many years passed without picnics, until the arrival of Father Walter Hancock to St. Sebastian on June 14, 1983. Father Hancock had a picnic in October of that year. The picnics continued.

Father Walter Hancock celebrated his fortieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood June 14, 1987. He was ordained May 27, 1947. Father Hancock was a great inspiration to the yound and old alike, and helped to get more Catholics coming back to the church at St. Sebastian. Everyone in McLean and surrounding counties knew Father Hancock. Red paint was a sign that Father Hancock was close by. He was also known for driving with his head and one arm out the window of his car, waving at everyone. He also loved basketball games.

Some of Father Hancock's accomplishments were the starting of the annual picnics, purchasing the Vandiver property, purchasing the carillon bells, installing air conditioning, blacktopping the parking lot, repairing the barbecue pit and using gallons and gallons of paint (red being his favorite).

In 1983 the Diocese of Owensboro instituted the Renew program, in which St. Sebastian participated.

In October 1984 St. Sebastian bought the Vandiver property which included a house and concrete building. The block building was used by the Knights of Columbus Council 7831. This council was started in Calhoun and Livermore and McLean County in 1981. Father John Bartholomucci, pastor of St. Sebastian and St. Charles called a meeting of the men of both parishes to form a council, which became the most noted charitable organization in McLean County, an organization interested in all the people of McLean County.

Lt. Col. Paul Gotowicki and his wife Margaret made the stained glass windows in the Crystal Green Room in 1985. Three windows were installed in the church June 14, 1987.

In 1987 St. Sebastian published a church directory. The coordinators were Betty Bickett, Jo Tichenor, Brenda Badertascher, Bernadine Edwards, Thelma Collings, Judy Towery, Judy Ward, and Lavonna Cheatham.

Our present pastor, Father Maury Riney, helped with the remodeling of St. Sebastian Church. The old floor of the church was torn out and a new floor and carpet installed. Rooms were renovated for use in the C.C.D. program. While the church was being remodeled Father Riney held Mass in the Crystal Green Room. Thanks to Father Riney and all of the parishioners who worked long and hard to get the church finished. It is a job well done. It shows that with the grace of God and a lot of prayers and hard work, St. Sebastian Parish can accomplish great things.

The members of St. Sebastian Church would like to thank all of the priests who served us so well through all these years: Fathers Eugene O'Callaghan, Paul Volk, James Pike, G. Schmitt, John H. Riley, Louis Herberth, D.A. Driscoll, S.J. Mensa, Charles A. Poole, Rudy Carrico, Martin Nahstoll, William Borntraeger, Anthony Higdon, Henry O'Bryan, Walter Hancock, Frank Ward, Thomas Libbs, Charles Fisher, Martin Mattingly, James Wathen, Gerald Calhoun, Anthony Zeigler, Clark Field, Richard Powers, John Bartholomucci, Ben Luther, John Speaks, Charles Worford, Walter Hancock, Father Clarence Hite, Maury Riney, Francis Roof, Larry Hostetter, Steve Ulrich, Tony Jones, Peter Hughes, John Okoro, John Ighacho and our current pastor, Father Jegin Puthenpurackal.

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