Nov 7, 2017
Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
In the great arc of time 150 years may not sound like much, but when you think how much has happened in that century and a half and how different things were in 1867, well then... When the Redemptorists finally agreed to Archbishop Kenrick’s invitation to come to St. Louis, the Civil War had just ended. We actually took over the Cathedral for a couple years to raise money to build The Rock. While there, one of our guys had Civil War weapons melted down and cast into a nativity set, which is still used today. When the Redemptorists came to St. Louis, we came under the condition that we would not be asked to staff a parish. What do they say, “Man [sic] plans, God laughs.” And that would certainly not be the last thing that did not go according to our plans.
After raising money for a couple years, the community took a three mile walk into the country and began to build a church that was intended to just be used as a mission church. However, almost from day one, people began showing up and making it their weekly place of worship. After eleven years, the Redemptorists finally relented to the will of the people and agreed to formally make The Rock a parish.
While Redemptorists traditionally did not do parish ministry outside the United States, they had a growing reputation in the U.S. of doing parish ministry for immigrants. So the German Redemptorists in St. Louis probably were not that upset about now having a parish. The one thing they were a bit perplexed about was the immigrants that were joining their new parish were Irish! And of course, we all know that wasn’t the last transformation that The Rock would go through. While some things have changed over the years, that which is truly important has remained, the Good News is being preached, and our Lord is being praised.
I pray that whoever the future may bring into this sacred space, may they be welcomed with open arms and may the Good News of plentiful Redemption be offered to them. And may the community of St. Alphonsus “Rock” continue to build the kingdom of God on the corner of Cook and Grand.
In the Redeemer,