Building on Faith
Saint Paul’s Journey
All journeys start long before they begin.
Before his journey began, Paul’s name wasn’t Paul, and his work wasn’t the Lord’s work. He was a devoted worker, but his devotion wasn’t Christianity based. He was an “enforcer” for the Roman fight against the early church. It was on one of his many “business trips” where the man who would be Paul first saw the light.
In the pioneering days of Idaho it is somehow fitting that the faithful who would one day be “Saint Paul’s” were, at first, an unnamed group of far-flung, faithful served twice a year by an itinerant priest.
Beginning in 1883 the Reverend Francis Hartleib of Saxony “…adopted the schedule of visiting his large mission field twice a year, spring and fall.” “Father Hartleib was the first priest to celebrate Mass at Caldwell and Nampa.”
“The Rev. Francis Hartleib, was born in Weimar, Saxony, on March 6, 1854. He was a relative of the famous musician, Franz Liszt… He went to the American College at Louvain with the intention of preparing himself in philosophy and theology for the service of the needy missions of the United States “…[He was] ordained for the Archdiocese of Oregon City, April 13, 1880, at Namur, Belgium, [and] set out for the Great American Northwest shortly after…”
An armchair historian of the Old West would surely picture the disbelief that must have visited the faith filled young priest as he first gazed on the wide, windy, west—sparsely peopled and remote beyond comprehension. Coming from the urban continent of his birth, he can’t have possibly imagined the magnitude of the travel it would take to serve the unpeopled ends of his mission.
The pioneering faithful of Nampa, a remote railroad supply station in the Southwestern Idaho territory, were shepherded by the evolving leadership of the church in the Northwest. Father Hartleib served the Vicariate Apostolic of Idaho under the administration of the Archbishop of Oregon City. The Vicariate would become the Diocese of Boise in 1893.
While a Vicariate, Nampa was served by Rt. Rev. Alphonse John Glorieux, D. D. of Dottignies, West Flanders, Belgium. “Very shortly after Bishop Glorieux came to Idaho, he assessed the building needs of the Vicariate and began his program of the construction of churches and rectories and the repair of old time-worn buildings…” One would wonder how pre-recorded time could wear buildings of the west, when surely buildings generations old in Europe were still considered new.
Ten years after the arrival of Father Francis Hartleib, Bishop Glorieux continued the journey of the Nampa faithful toward a parish home. Since 1883 they had gathered in Nampa homes. “When the regular missions did not demand attention, in between services were given to churches in the Basin or in homes at Nampa, Caldwell, Emmettsville, Jerusalem, and Garden Valley.” Records indicate the Nampa church named “St. Paul’s” was built in 1898.
“A Brief History of St. Paul’s Church,” an article found in a pamphlet created to celebrate Jubilee 2000, tells its readers, “The first Catholic service was held around 1895 in Cottingham Hall. Later a residence on 14th Avenue North was used. In 1900, as the population was increasing, a church was built at 1st Street and 14th Avenue South.”
To the casual observer the 14th Avenue North address would appear to be our beginning. But as with any journey, ours began long before the Nampa congregation had a given place to meet.
The Nampa faithful now had a name and its first church home. Our journey was now undertaken in the name of Saint Paul, “the indefatigable Apostle of the Gentiles.” So much “journey” of the Nampa faithful had been traveled, yet with the establishment of the first building, noted in Diocese records, our real journey began at last.
? Michelle Tanberg