Painting Commemorates The Heritage Of Martin County's Parishes
Pauline Holtz, a member of St. John Parish in Loogootee and well-known area artist, has created a painting commemorating the four Martin County parishes that are about to merge as part of the Diocese of Evansville’s Strategic Plan.
Effective July 1, St. John Parish in Loogootee will reflect the merger of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Loogootee, St. Martin Parish in Whitfield, St. Joseph Parish in Bramble, and St. Mary Parish in Shoals. St. Joseph Parish in Bramble had already been merged with St. Mary Chapel in Barr Township. The four churches will remain open.
Several other mergers take effect July 1 across the diocese.
Holtz completed a pencil drawing and a painting of the steeples of the four churches and one chapel together, and this image will be used as the parish’s logo for letterhead, paperwork and other similar needs. Her painting also will be displayed in the vestibule of St. John church in Loogootee, where it will serve as an inspiration to the people.
Holtz had been a member of St. Joseph Parish in Bramble for many years, but began attending St. John Parish in Loogootee with her family in 1970 while her five sons attended the Catholic grade and high schools there. Since then, she has been a very active member of the parish community.
Father Kenneth Walker, pastor, also has deep roots in the community that can be traced back several generations. His great-great uncle, Father Louis Gueguen, built the present church at St. John in Loogootee, was the second pastor of the parish and served 21 years. In addition, two of the stained glass windows in St. John Church were donated by his great-grandfathers, P.M. Walker and Thomas Browning.
Holtz focused on blending the character of each parish into one painting. “I’d do it once, and it didn’t suit me,” she said; “so, I’d do it again.” After several months of work, she finally created one that captured her vision and transferred the pencil drawing to a painting on canvas. “If I have a goal,” Holtz said, “I attain it.”
Martin County is known for its historical connections, and the parishes are no different. St. Mary Chapel in Barr Township was the third parish built in the Evansville Diocese, founded in 1834, led by its first bishop, Most Rev. Simon Bruté. “There are seven miles between each of the churches,” Holtz noted. “The parishes were constructed during the horse-and-buggy time period,” Father Walker added.
Sunday Masses and Saturday Vigil Masses for the new parish will be held at St. John in Loogootee. Eucharistic adoration will occur during the week at the rest of the churches. Father Walker also will celebrate a rotating weekday Mass at the other churches. Father Walker added, “These are close-knit parishes; we are bringing good people together to share their many talents.”
Father Walker said that a key part of the transition is getting everyone engaged. “The Youth Minister and the Parish Catechetical Leader are already involved,” he said, “and we are bringing viable programs already in existence in the other parishes to St. John.” He also noted the diversity evident in the new parish as a result of the merger. “There are four different schools represented,” he explained. “We need to focus on bringing the communities together, while also representing our roots.”
Asked to share her favorite part of creating the painting, Holtz simply said, “All of it.”