PART XII -ELMIRA (WOOLWICH), ST. THERESA CHURCH
CHAPTER 1.-ELMIRA. A MISSION OF NEW GERMANY.
Woowich the most northern township of Waterloo County, was purchased in 1798 from the Crown William Wallace, who sold 45,195 aeres of it for (euro symbol) 16,364 to the German Land Company in 1087. The present thriving village of Elmira, situated about in the centre of the township, had a late and small beginning. In 1844 it had only a log school and a few houses of the same construction.
The first Catholic settlers appear to have come in about 1840 and located about two miles north of the village. Among them were John O’Brian, Martin Halfpenny, Joseph Ruth, Allan Butler, Mr.Compass, Joseph Sehill, Ignatines Martin and some others, mostly Germans.
It is likely that Father Wiriath officiated here. Joseph Ruth was married by Father Sanderl in Preston in 1814. Ignatius Martin drove with his oxen team to New Germany over very bad roads to get married by FatherBaungaertner on May 28, 1846.
Before the erection of church Mass was celebrated at Halfpenny’s, Sehil’s and Ruth’s once or twice a year.
When Father Holzer came to New Germany towards the end of 1848 he found the church under rood, but without doors, windows or any inside work done.
The catholic church in Waterloo county – Book 1 by Rev Theobald Spetz – 1916
He saw to the completion of the building and used considerable money on it that he received from personal friends and charitable societies in Munich and Vienna. He blessed the church and officiated in it the second Sunday after Easter, 1851. (Holzer’s letter, December 4th 1851)
The church was mostly attended from New Germany although the Fathers Caveng and Fritsch also came from St Agatha. Father Messner had charge of it during a part of his time at St. Clement’s
As the village grew the Catholics also increased in numbers, but found it burdensome to go to church so far on foot.
A deed of the church property, not completed, is extant in the Hamilton archives. On May 10th 1853, Jos, Ruth made a deed of one acre in favor of the Toronto Eiseopal Corporation. The consideration mentioned is (euro sign) 2 10s. This deed has as yet not been transferred to the Episcopal Corporation.
Fathers Glowaeki and Breitkopf attempted from St.Clement’s during the latter sixties and early seventies, the last mentioned about once in two months. The Rev. Dr. L. Funeken also had charge of the Woolwich church for several years, and sent Father Spetz occasionally to have service in his stead.
Towards the 70s the Catholic colony began to decrease through deaths and emigration. Then the villagers began to agitate for a church in the town’s old one at considerable expense. Having lost all hope of getting a church nearby the villagers became discouraged, some moving away, others dropping their connection with the Mother Church.
With the inauguration of the “National Policy” came a new period of progress to the village and the increasing number of Catholics renewed their ery for a church. At last the farmers, having dwindled to only a few, consented to assist in building a church in the village.