By Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff at The Devine News, August 11, 2020
Seeing the Old Rock Church standing there in the morning sunlight, with the heavy equipment ready to take it down, was one of my saddest days as a community member in Devine. I did not want to go by the church before we headed out of town, but Gary drove by it anyway. I think he knew that I needed to see it one last time, and maybe he did too. It was where we have married almost 39 years ago. Through tears, I took a few last pictures before I just had to turn away and look no longer.
This St. Joseph’s rock church building was more than just a church for me. It was more than just a beautiful Midnight Mass, Ash Wednesday, Easter Vigil, Palm Sunday, and many other beautiful services. It was the “Church HOME” for six generations of my Ehlinger and Schmidt families. My ancestors helped build this church with their skills and labor in 1922. Generations of my family were baptized, confirmed, married, and had their final masses there before they were buried. My mother played the organ and led the church choir all of my growing up years, and beyond. I basically grew up in the choir loft! My Grandma Ehlinger, Great Aunt Selma Blatz, and Great Grandma Schmidt also played the organ in this old church for decades My dad talked proudly about serving as an Altar Boy with his brothers & cousins for many church & funerals masses. They were not just faithful members, but faithful servants in this church as well; with current family members continuing the tradition of service. It was also the last physical connection to my Grandpa & Grandma Ehlinger, besides the cemetery. This was a very personal loss.
This church has been a source of Comfort, Faith, and Pride for 98 years, even in its’ weakened form. Numerous pictures of the demolition were posted with sadness & shock on Facebook. Shock brings out strong emotions in all of us, I think. A good many people posted comments explaining the need for the demolition, and even though I respect their tough decisions, the tears and sadness still came. Thankfully, we found out in time on FB to have one last drive-by goodbye before it was demolished. But I did not – could not – watch it physically come down.
You don’t have to be Catholic or attend this church, to be affected by this landmark’s demise. There has been an outpouring of emotions on Facebook, from people and families in our community, county, state, and across the nation; it was a sad loss for them as well. I especially appreciate the kind words from others in Medina County who work tirelessly to preserve the history and buildings in their own communities. They are grieving too because they know how hard it is to save history, yet move along and progress at the same time. Also, many of them had ancestors and/or currents families who were parishioners here at St. Joseph’s in that rock church.
I realize that faith and the church are not just in a building, but this old Rock Church of St. Joseph’s was a pillar and symbol of Faith and Church in our town, as is its’ fellow church across the highway, First Baptist. No one coming through Devine on Hwy 173 could miss the twin churches. They showed that Faith ‘meant something’ in Devine. The current St. Joseph’s is a beautiful church and symbol too. Their members have struggled with this decision for years and did what they felt was the safest resolution. They are sad too. May God Bless their church & congregation as they move forward in their improvement efforts.
Goodbye Old Rock Church. May your memory in our hearts & minds, and in pictures, remind us that Faith still ‘means something” here in Devine.
See the original article: https://devinenews.com/goodbye-old-rock-church/