GLANDORF, Ohio — The Labor Day weekend marked a gala twin celebration in the village of Glandorf, Ohio: the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the village (by emigrants from the city of the same name in Germany) and its St. John the Baptist Church, and the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, with historic ties to the area since their arrival in America.
Located in the northwest corner of the Toledo Diocese, in rural Putnam County, Glandorf has enriched the lives of the Precious Blood family of Sisters and Missionaries (priests and brothers) who have ministered there in parishes and schools almost since the village’s beginning.
The history of the village and the church are closely intertwined. Both were founded by German native Father Johann Wilhelm Horstmann. In 1834 – the same year the Sisters of the Precious Blood began in Switzerland — he and a group of settlers from Germany founded Neu [New] Glandorf, named after his German hometown.
With a bronze bust of Father Francis de Sales Brunner behind them, members of the Precious Blood Family pose for a souvenir photo at the Glandorf parish complex during the Labor Day celebration. Pictured, from left, are Fr. Harry Brown (in the traditional cassock, mission cross and biretta of the Missionaries), Sisters Lou Ann Roof and Nancy Recker, Fr. Raymond Seifert, Sr. Noreen Jutte, Fr. Tony Fortman and Br. Jerry Schulte.
Both the Missionaries and the Sisters of the Precious Blood have been serving in the parish since 1848. A few months after the arrival of the priests and brothers, seven Sisters of the Precious Blood came to open the area’s school. The following year, the sisters’ community had almost tripled. A new two-story convent with large chapel replaced their temporary log cabin. On July 2, Feast of the Precious Blood, 20 sisters began perpetual adoration in the new chapel, dedicated to the Sorrowful Mother under the title of Mary at the Holy Sepulchre.
Over the years since their arrival, CPPS Sisters were engaged in a wide range of works and ministries. Many early tasks were typical of pioneer women of the era: farming, beekeeping, weaving and sewing. In addition to teaching and giving music lessons, the sisters’ other ministries were more church-related, including making altar breads and church linens.
Over the course of 148 years, more than one hundred CPPS sisters taught in the Glandorf District School alone, not counting other ministries. Sister Noreen Jutte, the congregation’s archivist, was the last Precious Blood Sister to serve in the school.
This 175th anniversary year, the village’s annual weekend festival took on an historic, international and religious flavor for the celebration, which included firefighters from Glandorf, Germany, a Mass celebrated by Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair, and a parade that included a tractor-drawn float of CPPS women and men – native sons and daughters of the area and/or with long service to St. John the Baptist Parish.
Nineteen Precious Blood Sisters and four Missionaries of the Precious Blood were on hand for the celebration, taking part in various liturgical roles and/or riding on the float that honored both the communities and the parish.
Float-riding CPPS women included Sisters Noreen Jutte, Nancy Recker and Lou Ann Roof; the Missionaries were represented by St. John the Baptist’s pastor, Father Tony Fortman, former pastors Father Harold Brown, Father Raymond Seifert and Brother Jerry Schulte. (Fr. Seifert died unexpectedly Sept. 14.)
In addition to Glandorf’s usual festival venues of dancing, beer garden and home-made chicken dinners, the almost two-hour parade included the floats, bands, fire trucks, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, antique tractors and other celebrations of rural life. Back at the firehouse, an added touch for the anniversary year was the historical display of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.
The Mass with Bishop Blair was celebrated in the cemetery near the Marian shrine erected during the Marian Year of 1954. The celebration would not have been complete for CPPS sisters without a visit to the cemetery to remember all the deceased members of the congregation who served the Glandorf community, especially the 79 Precious Blood Sisters who are buried there.
The current St. John the Baptist church, an architectural jewel, was built in 1878. At the time of its dedication it was the largest Catholic church structure in northern Ohio. Local historian Michael Leach provided a mini-tour of the historic church and also gave a brief history of the CPPS communities in relation to the founding of Glandorf.
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