It was at this time of the year, through January’s bitter cold, snow and icy rain, when the first C.PP.S. Missionaries in the United States were making their way to their first parish assignment in Norwalk, Ohio, assigned to them by Bishop Purcell.
After sailing from Le Havre, France, they first arrived in New Orleans, then had to sail up the Mississippi to Cincinnati, which they reached on December 31, 1843. After meeting with the bishop, they set out for Norwalk. “At that time the land wasn’t crisscrossed with railroad tracks yet, and so our people had to make an extensive detour to reach their destination,” according to one C.PP.S. history.
Led by Fr. Francis De Sales Brunner, C.PP.S., they traveled by steamboat up the Ohio River to Wellsville, Ohio, at the Pennsylvania border, then by wagon through many towns, including Hanover, Canton, Massillon and Wooster. At every stop, they prayed and celebrated Mass with Ohio’s many German immigrant families. They had to walk the last three miles, as their wagon driver unceremoniously dumped them out along the cold and muddy roadside.
From there, they went on to gain a foothold for the C.PP.S. in North America–and much more than a foothold. The photo from our archives shows Missionaries examining the foundation of the main building of St. Charles in Carthagena, Ohio, which was to become their major seminary and motherhouse. Thank you, God, for people who persevere and, with your blessing, see their journey through.