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Sacred Heart, Rich Fountain History

Sacred Heart Parish, Rich Fountain was founded in 1838 by Father Ferdinand Helias d'Huddeghem, S.J. The earliest parishioners from Bavaria, Germany, were staunch Catholics, cherishing a faith that has been a "rich fountain " of encouragement and inspiration unto the present generation.

Fr. Helias celebrated the first known Mass for four early Catholic families on May 16, 1838. Within two years the families of Struemph's Settlement had built a small log church on the four acres of land donated by Struemph where the first Mass was celebrated on December 3, 1840. It is thought that the Belgian Fr. Helias renamed the community Riche Fontaine, from the active spring located at the bottom of the church hill. In the early 1850's the parish covered a large part of Osage County, all of Maries County, and also included Durban's Settlement, the present town of Bland. By 1880 the first Mass was celebrated in a new, spacious and artistic church built chiefly by parishioners. It was dedicated on October 16, 1880.

A small log school went up in 1844 and in 1883 the School Sisters of Notre Dame began a ministry that, except for 1891 to 1893, has continued to the present. They received a convent in 1888, which was replaced in 1961. A rectory was added in 1892. The school functioned until a new limestone edifice replaced it in 1904, and the present brick building was erected in 1964.

Today the Knights of Columbus, St. Ann's Socality and the St. Ann's Sewing Circle are active organizations. Annual events that bring many back home to Rich Fountain are the Corpus Christi processions, the annual picnic, and quilt auction in summer. The parish currently numbers more than 262 families, many with the same surnames as the first four families. Sacred Heart has given 40 vocations to the Church.

Pastva, Loretta. Proclaiming the Good News in the Heart of Missouri. The Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.
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