History of St. Boniface Catholic Church
Rev. Kuchenbuch, pastor of
The Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Mary
The Beginning - 1866-1873
The German Catholics in Edwardsville began planning for a church of their own in the 1860s. By 1866, the Rev. William Kuchenbuch, the pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Edwardsville (St. Mary’s), advised them to purchase the ground needed, which they did in 1866. The German parishioners pledged amounts to pay for the ground and, with the purchase of a brickyard in 1867, brick making began in earnest.
On January 1, 1869, Rev. Anton Rustige was appointed the pastor of St. Boniface, thus marking the beginning of the parish. He would lead the parish through the difficult process of building a church and building a solid foundation for the continuation of a parish community.
In the spring of 1869, the contract for the building was awarded to H. Melcher, also of St. Louis, for a cost of $14,000. On June 2, 1869, the cornerstone was laid by Very Reverend Peter Joseph Baltes, of Belleville, Illinois, then Administrator of the Diocese of Alton.
The ceremony of division took place on Sunday, November 7, 1869. A procession formed at St. Mary’s Church, which was at that time located on Main Street. With the Edwardsville Band in the lead, they marched to the new St. Boniface Church where the congregation was officially divided into two parishes - one for the Germans and one for the Irish.
While there was much work to be completed on the interior of the church, parish life was already busy. The first baptism recorded in the books was on January 1, 1869, and the first marriage was on July 22, 1869. In May 1870, Bishop Baltes administered Confirmation to a class of 142. In September 1870, the bishop returned to bless two bells.
Building continued and in 1871, a combination rectory and school was completed. The first floor was used as a school while the second floor was the pastor’s residence.
Plastering of the interior of the church was completed in 1872 and the church was officially dedicated in August 1873. Just a few months later in November 1873, Rev. Anton Rustige retired to St. Mary’s Infirmary in St. Louis where he died in 1874 at the young age of 33. His last contribution to the parish was a bequest of $1,000 in his will.
1874 - 1896
The next several years saw a succession of pastors whose tenures lasted only a few months. In 1876, Rev. Gerhard Janssen was appointed pastor and stayed for four and half years. In January 1881, Rev. Janssen exchanged places with Rev. Augustine Schlegel of Mt. Carmel, Illinois.
Rev. Schlegel remained at St. Boniface for over 15 years and did much to advance the young parish. His first project was to build a new school building and on Thanksgiving Day in 1882, the building was dedicated. In years to come, it would serve many purposes in the parish, including a convent, meeting rooms for boy scouts and girl scouts, a band rehearsal room, and a kindergarten. It was razed during the campus renovations of Project 2000.
Rev. Joseph Metzler
1912 School Construction
1896 - 1918
In May 1896, Rev. Joseph Metzler was appointed pastor. His years as pastor saw many updates to the parish buildings including electrical lighting in the church, stained glass in the sanctuary, and two additional bells in the steeple, bringing the total to four. In 1902 the Rt. Rev. Adalbert of Fulda, Germany, granted the request of Rev. Metzler by giving the parish a relic of St. Boniface.
A major project during Rev. Metzler’s pastorate was replacing the 1882 school building with a new and larger school. A building committee was assembled and they began reviewing local schools. Construction began in 1912, and the school was dedicated in January 1913. Initially, the only classrooms were the four on the first floor. The lower level was to be used as recreation rooms when the students could not go outside for recess. The second floor was a large auditorium with a stage and a balcony.
In 1915, land was purchased for the St. Boniface Cemetery. Prior to this, most parishioners were buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
That year also saw a modification to the exterior of the church. A tornado struck Edwardsville during a Sunday service and Rev. Metzler stopped the service and asked everyone to kneel and pray. The small spires that had adorned the corners of the church were damaged and never replaced.
1919 - 1954
Rev. Ernest Eckhard began his pastorate in May 1919 and immediately set to work. Pew rent was abolished and the weekly envelope system established. In addition, the cost of maintaining the school and providing an education for parish children became the responsibility of all parishioners, not just the parents of those students. The 1882 school building was remodeled as a convent for the Sisters.
A few years later in 1924, extensive termite damage was discovered in the church requiring major repairs including replacement of several pillars, installation of a new floor, and renovation of the pews. In 1928 the school basement was remodeled including the installation of a four lane bowling alley.
The late 1940s and early 1950s saw additional remodeling of the school as the enrollment rose to new record levels. The hall/auditorium on the second floor was remodeled into four classrooms. The bowling alley was removed from the basement and a new kitchen and a large dining area were created which could also be used as a large meeting area for parish events and receptions.
Father Eckhard was always very involved with the school. He frequently taught catechism and encouraged all forms of education. The St. Boniface Band was created in 1936 to provide musical education for any who wanted it. Catholic education beyond eighth grade was another of Father Eckhard’s passions. St. Boniface graduates began attending St. Paul High School in Highland.
On June 9, 1951, Father Eckhard celebrated his 45th anniversary as a priest and 32nd year as pastor with a commemorative banquet. Father Eckhard spent much of the next few years in hospitals until his death in January 1954.
Rev. Ernest Eckhard
School Bowling Alley
June 1960 The convent was dedicated by Bishop William O’Connor on June 5, the Feast Day of Saint Boniface. Immediately afterward, 110 fifthand sixth-graders and 23 adults were confirmed.
1954 - 1961
During this time a new convent was constructed. Bishop William O’Connor dedicated the building on June 5, 1960. After the dedication of the convent, the Bishop administered the sacrament of Confirmation to 110 fifth and sixth graders and 23 adults.
1961 - 1969
Father Ralph Guido was named pastor in November 1961. Just a few months later in January 1962, the first dialogue Mass was said. The church was remodeled with terrazzo floors, new pews, and new stained glass windows. Chimes were placed in the sanctuary. In addition, air conditioning was installed in the church.
Vatican II brought about many changes in the liturgy and also in the church building itself. With Masses now being said with the priest facing the congregation, a temporary altar was placed in the sanctuary. In 1969, the last year of Father Guido’s pastorate, the sanctuary was renovated. The old high altar was removed and a new marble altar replaced the temporary altar. The side altars were removed and replaced with a tabernacle and a baptismal font. A marble communion rail and pulpit were added.
Fr. Ralph Guido
Fr. William Stanley
1969 The Parish’s 100th Anniversary was celebrated in October with Bishop O’Connor.
1969 - 1973
Father William Stanley arrived at St. Boniface in April 1969. His first task was the completion of the renovations in the sanctuary. The Parish house was remodeled to be used as a kindergarten, in addition to band rehearsals and meetings.
In October 1969, the 100th anniversary of the parish was celebrated beginning with a Mass presided over by Bishop O’Connor. A public reception was held after the Mass with a history of the church on display.
Fr. Knuffman, Bishop O’Connor, Fr. Niebrugge, Fr. Cepanis, Fr. Stanley
1973 - 1978
The year 1973 saw Father William Maul installed as the new pastor. The 1871 rectory was razed and replaced with a larger rectory in 1975. The new rectory contained living quarters for two priests, office space, and a lower level designed as a meeting room and fellowship space and included a kitchen and restrooms.
Fr. William Maul
1976 An 8,000 sq. ft. office / rectory was dedicated which contained office space and living quarters for two priests and a housekeeper.
Fr. Robert Meyer
1984 Bonifest premiered and has continued for 35+ years.
1978 - 1985
Father Robert Meyer succeeded Father Maul in June 1978. During Father Meyer’s time, a Parish Council was established consisting of several committees to review all facets of the parish.
A tornado again struck Edwardsville in 1981 and the cross on the steeple was damaged. It was removed and repaired. In addition, the church, school, and parish house were tuck-pointed.
A plan to redecorate the church and build a Parish Center which would include a gym was presented to the Bishop. In August 1982, the Bishop gave the parish permission to start raising money for the projects. Redecorating of the church began in January 1985 and groundbreaking for the Parish Center was in March 1985. The work in the church was completed in April 1985.
1985 - 1995
A new pastor, Father Kekeisen, was assigned on July 23, 1985. The Parish Center was dedicated by Bishop Ryan in November. Father Kekeisen remained but a short time at St. Boniface, leaving in the spring of 1988.
Father Charles Dahlby arrived in September 1988. He restructured the Pastoral Council and made updates to the school building.
With only two Sisters remaining in residence, a house was rented for them and the convent was rented to the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office.
In the fall of 1994, Father Dahlby decided to leave the Diocese and enter Religious Life. Father Gerald Bunse of St. Mary’s Parish was appointed administrator of St. Boniface.
Fr. William Kekeisen
1985 The new Parish Center was designed by Bill Henderson, of Henderson & Associates of Edwardsville, and R. W. Bocker Co. of Hamel was the general contractor.
Fr. Charles Dahlby
External Church repairs
Fr. John Corredato
January 27, 2002 The official groundbreaking was held with Bishop Lucas and Edwardsville Mayor Gary Niebur.
2002-2003 Site excavation began in April 2002, and the construction was completed in November 2003.
Nov. 11, 2003 The 15,638 sq. ft. new church building was dedicated. It was intended to have a “gothic style with a contemporary interpretation.” Fr. John Corredato was pastor.
1995 - 2007
Father John Corredato, Cleric of St. Viator, became the new pastor of St. Boniface on July 4, 1995. He tasked the Pastoral Council with defining a vision for the future of the parish. As a result, the convent, once again empty, was remodeled to be used as a preschool, and rooms in the school were remodeled to accommodate an all-day kindergarten, a music room, and a library.
Another committee, Project 2000, was formed to continue the planning for the facilities. A plan for further expansion of the parish facilities was developed and fundraising began in 2000. A larger church was needed and would be attached to the current church. The current church would be used as a chapel for daily Masses and small funerals and weddings.
But several steps had to be completed before the new church would be a reality. A Preschool was built next to the Parish Center/gym. The convent, which was most recently used as the preschool, was remodeled for use as the parish office. A house was purchased on Fillmore Street as a rectory, since the current rectory would be razed. The Parish house was also razed. The new Preschool was completed in September 2001.
On January 27, 2002, Bishop George Lucas came for the official ground breaking for the construction of the new church. Bishop Lucas returned on November 11, 2003 for the dedication of the church.
Within a few years, updates began on the school with updated electrical service installed first. This was followed by additional computers and window air conditioners for each classroom and office. Remodeling of the classrooms began in the summer of 2006 with the 8th grade classroom followed by the seventh grade classroom over Christmas break.
1998 Project 2000 committee was formed to update the parish census and survey parishioner needs.
2007 - Current
In the summer of 2007, Father Corredato accepted an assignment at the Cathedral of the Guardian Angels in Las Vegas. Father Jeffrey Goeckner became the new pastor in July 2007.
With the retirement of the school principal in May 2007, Father Goeckner began a search for a new principal. Sr. Anna Flanigan of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception was hired as the new principal. In addition, Sr. Kathleen Ann Mourisse was hired to teach art and help with religious education and liturgical planning. To accommodate the Sisters, a house was purchased for Father Goeckner and the Sisters moved into the former rectory on Fillmore Street.
While the school building remodeling continued on schedule, additional work was planned including installing a new roof and windows, remodeling the remainder of rooms and hallways, and replacing the exterior doors.
On December 31, 2008, a New Year’s Eve celebration was held for the parish to ring in 2009 and a year-long celebration of the 140th anniversary of the parish.
In January of 2011, a Hispanic ministry began at St. Boniface. A Mass was added to the weekend schedule with the liturgy in Spanish. Initially, the Mass was held in the chapel but the Hispanic community has since outgrown the chapel and now the Mass is held in the church and draws Hispanic-Catholics from several communities.
As part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of St. Boniface Parish in 2019, major renovations for both the church and school were undertaken. Several events throughout 2019 celebrated the anniversary motto of “St. Boniface - Always Here” while looking to the future of many more years of community.
2009 The year-long commemoration of the Parish’s 140th Anniversary began with a New Year’s Eve Mass to ring in 2009 and also included a celebration for the Feast Day of Saint Boniface on June 5.
2010 A Coat of Arms was developed for St. Boniface Parish with many symbols of our faith. Our Baptismal commitment is at the center with waves of flowing water. The gold in the lower section embodies the warmth of God’s grace, which flows from the waters of Baptism. The red cross in a circle signifies an unending willingness to embrace the Cross.
In the upper section of the shield is a blue star symbolizing the parish’s devotion to Mary, Mother of God, and a crescent moon, which reflects the parish’s fidelity to the Diocese. In the center stands a strong evergreen tree crossed behind with the symbols of Saint Boniface: his German bishop’s crosier and an axe used to cut down the pagan-venerated oak tree which, from its stump, sprang an evergreen tree. Saint Boniface used the evergreen tree as a model that his God is stronger, everlasting, eternal, and – ALWAYS EVERGREEN.
The completed school renovations included the installation of an elevator to make the school accessible throughout for those with special needs, asbestos abatement, and a more secure entrance.
2020 Since the “new” church was planned in Project 2000, the St. Boniface Parish community grew from 1,000 to nearly 1,700 families. The planned new multipurpose center will provide a regulation-size gym, locker room facilities, a space for countless parish functions, and will be available to rent by parishioners for weddings, reunions and other large gatherings.
Fr. Jeffrey Goeckner
2007 The Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception came to serve the parish. It had been 10 years since Sisters had a presence at St. Boniface. Sr. Anna Flanigan (middle) became School Principal and Sr. Kathleen Ann Mourisse (left) became Art Teacher, Director of Religious Education, and Director of the RCIA program.
2012 In August, after six years of planning, fundraising, and support from the Diocese, Father McGivney Catholic High School opened in a temporary wing of St. John Neumann Catholic School. They opened their doors to a group of 19 pioneer students. Fr. Goeckner, a member of the Founders Board, was appointed Chaplain in 2012 and later as President of the new high school when it was built in 2015. Including its new freshman class, the student body in August 2015 numbered 125 students.
In 2019, the school graduated its fourth senior class. Enrollment at FMCHS was 240 students with ACT scores well above average, 5% minority, and 10% non-Catholic.
2011 In January, the Hispanic ministry began with various Spanish-speaking priests celebrating Mass each weekend. This ministry grew with the appointment of Rev. Paul Habing in 2015.