OTTAWA — Members of Sts. Peter and Paul Church spoke about the importance of the church and their faith while celebrating its 150th anniversary in Ottawa on Sunday.
“It’s 150 years of consistency in our community,” said Charlie Doepker, a 67-year-old native son of Ottawa, who went to Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School and graduated from Ottawa-Glandorf High School. “We live in a world of change. We’re always changing, but the church remains a constant in our lives.”
To celebrate the milestone, a special mass was held at noon and a celebration was held later Sunday afternoon at the Ottawa Knights of Columbus Hall. Bishop Daniel Thomas from the Toledo Diocese attended the Mass and also lead a prayer of thanks before the crowd of members at the celebration ate together. Previous pastors of Sts. Peter and Paul returned to Ottawa to celebrate with the parish community they once lead, including; the Rev. Paul Wohlwend, who was pastor from 1979 to 1989, and the Rev. Tom Hemm, who was pastor from 1996 to 2008.
The original Sts. Peter and Paul Church was completed in 1872 in the same location where the current church stands, said the Rev. Matt Jozefiak, the current pastor. The cornerstone was set in 1868.
“The mother church in our area was at St. John the Baptist in Glandorf,” Jozefiak said. “The priests over there used to come over here in horse and buggy and offer Mass for the people here in Ottawa. Eventually, of course, the church was established here in Ottawa.”
In 1876, The Sisters of the Precious Blood came to Ottawa and began working in the initial Catholic school. Near the end of the 19th century the sisters took over the education responsibilities of the school, Jozefiak said. In 1921 a two-story grade school building was constructed and is still being used today for kindergarten through second grade students.
Calvin Diller, who converted to Catholosicm when he married, said he and his wife, Dana, have already decided any children they have will attend Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School through 8th grade. Where they go for high school is something they’ll talk about when the time comes, he said. Growing up, Calvin Diller said he was always impressed with the children who attended Sts. Peter and Paul because he and the other students who hadn’t gone there seemed to be playing catch up with the ones who had.
Dana Diller said it was exciting for her to share the 150th anniversary with her parents and grandmother, who lived their lives in the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish like she had.
“I lived right on Third Street in Ottawa,” she said. “A lot of times I would walk to church and kind of go there as an escape as a child. So for me it’s like a second home. It’s kind of where I grew up, going to Mass every day during the school time and than also on Sunday.”
Steve Unterbrink, a 25 year member of the parish, said Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church is more than a building, it’s a community.
“The church is about the people who come to the building,” he said. “I have four children and raising children is not an easy task. Parents can’t do it alone. We need a community to raise children and all of the people in the community help me raise my children.”
Charlie Doepker is a retired U.S. Army bandsman and has been deployed outside the U.S. while serving in the Army. Because of that experience Sts. Peter and Paul means something different to him than those people who haven’t seen the world in the same way, he said. To him the church is a symbol of something greater, transcending the building and the community it creates.
“It’s not so much about the church as it is about our faith,” Doepker said. “The church is a symbol of our faith and that faith stays with you no matter where you are in the world.”
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