The Start of the Parish, by Fr. Payne - Part 1
Chaplain: Joe E Payne, C.S.C. Appointed by: Very Reverend James Burns, C.S.C. Provincial, Holy Cross Congregation in the United States. Pastor for (Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame) - Reverend Edward J. Finnegan, C.S.C.
Little Flower parish began as a mission from Sacred Heart Parish, Notre Dame, Indiana. The impetus for its beginning came from the Seminarians of Moreau Seminar, Notre Dame, who "discovered" "Dogpatch" because of a run-away horse.
Among the Seminarians who canvassed the area and built the church were Mr. Patrick Payton and his brother Thomas. Others were, Mr. John Haley and his brother, Dean O'Donnell, William McAnliffe, Clement Funke and Joe Miller.
The Seminarians, talking with the people they encountered on their search for the seminary horse, discovered that many of them did not attend Mass on Sunday, though nominally Catholics. The excuse given by many was that they had not the clothes considered suitable to wear to church at Notre Dame. This gave them the idea of building a small church for Sunday services to accommodate the poor people. They presented their idea to Father Finnegan, who approved on condition the Seminarians would do the work of building. Bishop Noll gave his blessing and funds were raised by an appeal made by Fr. Finnegan to his business friends and acquaintances of South Bend. Many small donations of from $5.00 to $25.00 eventually mounted up to over $1,000.
With this money, materials were purchased for a small building. Mr. Bert Kunkle, a member of the carpenter force at Notre Dame gave his services as adviser and overseer.
Work was begun on July 15, 1937. Father Finnegan, just before leaving on his vacation. Turned the first shovel full of dirt and the building was underway.
Fortune would have it that I (Joe E. Payne, C.S.C. one year ordained) was appointed to take Father Finnegan's place at Sacred Heart Church, while he was away. He usually remained away at that time for months.
I was very much interested in the "Mission" as it was called and began going with the Seminarians on their rounds visiting the people to take census. Father Finnegan, according to his custom, took his parish car with him on his vacation, so that I had no means of transportation. With Father Burn's approval, I purchased a second-hand bicycle, since I was living at the Presbytery at Notre Dame at the time.
I spent most of the summer flying back and forth from the Presbytery, often with my cassock trailing in the wind, to the mission.
The mission limits were a tiny area bounded only on three sides. North Douglas south, east Ironwood drive and South Bend drive and west Ivy Road.
A lot on which the church was built was donated by Mr. & Mrs. George Hepler who had at one time owned all the area as farm land, but had subdivided it now and sold it a lot at a time since they were both old and unable any longer to operate a farm.
While the church was being built, a first Communion class was being prepared for Sacraments. Also Catechism classes were taught by the seminarians each day in an abandoned store on Juniper road, across from what is now the fine house. Some forty or fifty children attended these religion classes.
Next week—Part 2 First Mass and Social