By Lori Jo Mundstock
In the year 2010, Bishop Paul Swain of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls announced to the Pastors, Parish Representatives, and Lay Faithful of the Parishes in the Redfield Area Study Group that a plan was forming based on the diocesan planning process designed to address the realities of the day which included fewer priests and significant demographic changes. In his words, ďI have made the following decisions relative to your parishes: St. Bernard Parish, Redfield and All Saints Parish, Mellette will be linked under the pastoral care of one pastor, effective July 1, 2011; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Groton and St. Joseph Parish, Turton will be linked under the pastoral care of one pastor, effective, July 2, 2011; The parishes of St. Ann, Frankfort, St. Mary, Zell, St. Anthony, Bristol, St. John the Baptist, Conde, and St. Joseph, Doland, will be without regular liturgies and the records of St. Ann, and St. Mary parishes will be transferred to St. Bernard Parish in Redfield.Ē
Parishioners were encouraged to find a new parish to register. Their churches would no longer be active parishes but residents were told that they could use the facilities for funerals, weddings, or other special occasions or for religious education as long as there was financial resources available to care for, provide insurance for and assure safety on the sites. The Parishioners of St. Annís Parish voted to close the church.
Today, St. Annís in Frankfort stands empty. The pews have been removed by families in the Frankfort area whose ancestors were the founding members of that parish, other religious items such as the stained glass windows have been removed to Sioux Falls, while still other items such as the side altars were taken to NSU in Aberdeen and some items went on to St. Bernardís in Redfield where many of the Parishioners now attend. The tables, refrigerators, stoves, and other kitchen equipment have been donated to the Spink County 4-H building at the Spink County Fairgrounds. Demolition of the Church is expected to take place by the end of June. The Frankfort Fire Department will hold a controlled burn on the inside of the structure and then the outside will be knocked down and hauled away. A monument on the Church grounds dedicated to Father Kelly will be moved to the cemetery as will the St. Annís Parish Bell, according to Geri Robinson who has played an active role in the process.
Here now in tribute is a history of St. Annís Parish Founded in 1883 in Frankfort with the present church being constructed in the summer of 1922.
Father Haire was the first missionary driving a horse and buggy from Aberdeen to Watertown to Huron with stops at Redfield, Frankfort, and the vicinity twice each year. Mass was said in the homes and children were baptized. This would change in 1884 when under the direction of Father Perrault,
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the first church was built. Father Bunning came from Zell once each month to perform liturgies until the fall of 1887 at which time Bishop Marty sent Father Bauer as the first resident pastor. He was succeeded by Father Niebling in the spring of 1888 who served until December of that year. He would be followed by Father Charles Robinson who came to Frankfort in January of 1889 newly ordained. Robinson would served the Parish until September of 1889 and in June of that year, the original First Holy Communion Class in Frankfort received Holy Communion.
Father Guenard succeeded Father Robinson and under his direction the St. Annís Altar Society was organized in 1890 with Mrs. John Kalscheuer, Mrs. Peter J. Valder and Mrs. Stephen Strauss as officers. The first High Mass was celebrated on All Saints Day, November 1, 1890 with Barbar Valder as organist. Father Guenard would be at St. Annís until October of 1896 when he was made resident pastor of Turton. St. Annís would become a mission of Turton until 1900 when it was made a mission of Redfield with Father Hermeling as Pastor. Hermeling was succeeded by Father MacConnachie who came to Redfield in 1901 and was pastor until November 1910.
In December 1910 the present rectory was built and the first pastor to occupy it was Father Harte who was succeeded three months later by Father P.A. Keilty. Under his direction the location of the church was changed facing east instead of south and the Altar Society was reorganized with Mesdames George Haag, Oliver Robinson, and John Noonan as officers.
On March 1, 1914 Father Keilty was transferred and Father McNanus became the new pastor to serve the parish for four years from March of 1914 to March of 1918. Father Brezlin would then serve for a period of three months until on August 15, 1918 Father S. J. MacCauliff came to Frankfort until the fall of 1920. It was during that time that an addition of twenty feet was built onto the west end of the church to accommodate the forty families of the parish.
Father Michael Kelly came to replace Father MacCauliff in the fall of 1920. On March 19, 1922 the church and all its contents burned. The parish received $500 insurance money. That summer, 1922 the present church was built and pews were put in, and Stations of the Cross hung. These were dedicated on Ash Wednesday, 1923. June 19, 1923 the Rt. Reverend Bishop Bernard Mahoney came to dedicate the church and hold confirmation.
A series of pastors would follow after Father Kelly was transferred in September of 1923. These included: Father Duffy -who served 2 months; Father Alfred Rochon - 6 months; Father James A. Reily from 1924 to 1930; Father Eilers who served one Sunday; Father Burkel; Father Ryan, Father Rogan, Father Francis Cronin; Father Walsch; Father Raymond Leiser; Father Fronin; Father MacConnachie; Father Issenhuth; Father Siebert; Father Mulkern; Father Connelly; Father Kelly; and Father Mechtenberg.
In 1959 Father Power became Administrator of St. Annís Parish. It was during his time that an extensive repair and improvement project took place . What was originally a dugout underneath the church became a spacious hall and an extension was added for kitchen facilities, a furnace room, and an enlarged Sacristy. At the same time, St. Annís asked for pledges for stained glass windows and these were installed. These same windows are now in Sioux Falls. In 1960 the ladies Altar Society purchased an electric Conn organ to replace the old pump organ. It was dedicated to the memory of Barbara Robinson who was organist at St. Annís for 65 years.
Father Power was in Frankfort until May 1965 when he was transferred to St. Bernardís. Father Paul Byorth came in September 1965 and remained until 1968 and then Father Frank Majusiak was pastor until December 1969. Father Offerman succeeded him in January of 1970 and was there until September 1970. He in turn was succeeded by Father Edward Lamontagne who stayed at St. Annís until 1981. He was the last priest to live in the rectory there. When he retired in 1981, parishioners attended mass on Sundays and Holy Days at other parishes until 1982 when Father Kenneth Meyer of the Pittsburgh Diocese was sent to Redfield with St. Annís as a mission. He left St. Annís in August of 1983. Father William Osborn, pastor at Conde then came to St. Annís while he administered to the parishes of Conde, Turton and Doland. He worked with the parish until Father Vinslauske transferred to St. Bernardís with St. Annís as a mission. Father Vinslauske was followed by Father Fischer who oversaw Redfield and Frankfort, Father Geditz who was also at Redfield and Frankfort and Father Christopher Hughes who took care of the Mellette, Zell and Frankfort parishes until 2011 when the restructuring of the parishes went into effect.
A final liturgy took place in June of 2011 at St. Annís in Frankfort and the Rev. Paul J. Swain, bishop of the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese, celebrated a Holy Mass of Remembrance and Celebration. Father Christopher Hughes is now at St. Bernardís in Redfield with the retirement of Father William Osborn.
Still in question is what will happen with the parish structures in Conde and Doland as well as the land associated with those as final farewell is bid to St. Annís.