Celebration of farewell, thanksgiving for Precious Blood missionaries, June 23 in Sedalia


Bishop W. Shawn McKnight; Precious Blood Father Garry Richmeier, provincial leader of the Missionary Society of the Precious Blood’s Kansas City Province; and priests and sisters who have served in and around Pettis County through the years plan to take part in a June 23 Corpus Christi celebration in Sedalia’s streets and iconic church buildings.

It will mark the conclusion of almost 14 decades of evangelical service and leadership by Missionaries of the Precious Blood in what is now the Jefferson City diocese.

Precious Blood Father Mark Miller, 74, current pastor of Sacred Heart and St. Patrick parishes in Sedalia and the St. John the Evangelist mission in Bahner, will retire from parish ministry on Aug. 5.

Because the Missionaries of the Precious Blood do not have anyone to send in Fr. Miller’s place, Bishop McKnight has appointed two diocesan priests — Father Joseph Corel and Father David Veit — to minister to the Catholics of Pettis County, beginning July 1.

“Our missionary society and this community share a long history,” stated Fr. Miller, who also served as an associate pastor in Sedalia in the 1970s. “We thank God for these past 137 years of ministering to and with the people of this area. We are confident that God will continue to build on the foundation we and those who came before us have set into place under His inspiration and guidance.”

The celebration of thanksgiving and farewell will take place on Sunday, June 23, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

It will include a 3 p.m. prayer service and outdoor procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament from St. Patrick Church, 415 E. Fourth St., to Sacred Heart Church, 421 W. Third St.

Fr. Richmeier will give the opening message at St. Patrick Church. Bishop McKnight will speak at Sacred Heart Church.

A reception will be held in the Sacred Heart School Gym afterward.

The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood was founded in present-day Italy to renew the clergy and laity through devotion to the Precious Blood that was offered up by Christ at the Last Supper and shed during His saving passion and death.

Precious Blood priests, brothers and seminarians arrived in the United States in 1843 to serve in parishes and schools.

The first of them in Pettis County arrived in Bahner in 1881 and began ministering to German-speaking Catholics in Sedalia the following year.

Over time, Missionaries of the Precious Blood have served in Sedalia, Bahner, Boonville, California, Cedron, Clifton City, Cole Camp, Fayette, Jefferson City, Marshall, Pilot Grove, St. Elizabeth, Sweet Springs, Warsaw and other communities in this diocese.

Precious Blood Father Paul Engerer, as pastor of Annunciation parish in California, drowned in a flood in 1892 while making a sick call. His earthly remains are at rest in Annunciation Cemetery.

Bishop Joseph M. Marling C.PP.S. (+1956-69), the diocese’s founding bishop, served two terms as provincial leader of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood United States Province before his elevation to the episcopacy in 1947.

His bishop’s motto was “Per Sanguinem Crucis” — “Through the Blood of the Cross.”

Fr. Miller and the rest of the Catholic community of Pettis County have been working with Bishop McKnight on plans to combine the Sedalia parishes and Bahner mission into one parish with three ministry sites later this year.

Their goal is to bring about more effective collaboration and grow in strength and unity in living and proclaiming the Gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Plans call for the combined parish to be known as St. Vincent de Paul parish, the name given to Sedalia’s first parish when it was founded in the 1860s.

Church law allows a bishop to entrust the pastoral care of a parish or parishes in his diocese to two or more priests who carry out together, “in solidum,” the responsibilities of a pastor. (Revised Code of Canon Law, Canon 517).

Fr. Corel, Fr. Veit and, for the first month, Fr. Miller will serve as pastors in solidum.