[Masthead] Partly Cloudy ~ 62°F  
High: 63°F ~ Low: 43°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Welcome Center dedicated at Maryhill

Friday, June 5, 2009

The new Welcome Center on the grounds at Maryhill was dedicated to the Maryhill parish on Sunday, with several former members in attendance. Photo by Mike Leckband
It's been nearly three years since the 101 year-old Maryhill church was destroyed by winds reaching from 60 to 90 mph. Since that time ,when the church's parish was displaced, parishioners have thad to have their spiritual needs met at other area churches.

Since that fateful August night in 2006 , the future of Maryhill has been uncertain. The Diocese of Sioux City determined that since the population of the rural church had been declining in recent years, a new church would not be built at the site.

That decision did not sit well with the parish that has seen Maryhill as their spiritual home for many generations. The decision to rebuild also never sat well with the Retired Rev. Gene Sitzmann, who was pastor of the church from 1970 to 2005.

Sitzmann was there the night the Church was destroyed. He lived, and still lives, on the grounds at Maryhill, which still house the Maryhill Catholic Cemetery, two houses ,and the former rural school.

On Sunday, many of the former members came back to Maryhill to be part of the dedication of the new Maryhill Welcome Center. The Center is a shelter- style house for families and former members to come home to. It is designed much like the shelter houses that you find in many of the parks in Cherokee County, but there is something unique about this shelter house.

It was constructed using many artifacts from the old church, including some of the stained glass windows, and is finished with wood from the church. The shelter house is also home to a small museum, which showcases much of Maryhill's history. It is a perfect site for gatherings and reunions, or just a family-style picnic. It contains picnic tables and a large grill for use by visitors. Next to the shelter house, there is the Rainbow Playground, built just for kids.

The Maryhill Welcome Center and Rainbow Playground was a gift to the parish from Sitzmann , and is dedicated to his parents.

"I had it in my will to leave money to the Maryhill parish," said Sitzmann. "But after a lot of thinking, I thought 'Why can't I do something for the parish now? ' Plus, I'd be around to see it being used."

Sitzmann's dedication states: "In appreciation for the rural life values that have shaped my life and vocation, I gift this shelter, Memorial Treasury, and adjacent Rainbow play area to the people of Maryhill, the Vineyard Cluster and the Diocese of Sioux City. I do so in fond memory of my parents, Edwin and Irene Sitzmann, who were lifelong Plymouth County Farmers, and with heavenly dedication to St. Isidore, the patron of farmers."

With the pastoral direction and support given by Father Armand Bertrand, the pair blessed the new Maryhill Welcome Center on Sunday with a dedication ceremony. Sitzmann thanked many area businesses and individuals who helped him make this gift a reality: Brian Lunders Construction, along with his family members; Marcus Lumber; Nelson Electric; R.J. Thomas Manufacturing; Holton Signs; Valley Glass; Waldner Landscaping; Ruhland Nurseries; Jim and Annette Meyer; Carolyn Henke; Beth Rupp; Anne Wilberding; Bill Schmidt; John Wiemold; Larry Pitts; Tony Steward; and Mike Lunders. Sitzmann expresses his appreciation to those folks and regrets any others he may have missed.

It is true that this shelter will not replace the destroyed church, but it does ensure that the parish will have a place to gather on their holy ground. It has been stated that a church is not just a building, but rather the people who gather in that building that makes it a church. With the gift from Rev. Sitzmann, the people of Maryhill will be able to gather together for many years to come.

For more photos from Sunday's dedication, see the Maryhill photo Gallery.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on chronicletimes.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

I was baptised at Maryhill, moved away, several years later moved back, and was confirmed at Maryhill. Is there a centennial book or any other book available on Maryhill? If so, it should be brought back and made available. Is the Maryhill picnic a thing of the past too?

-- Posted by oldhickory5 on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 9:53 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: