The Pastor’s Workshop

Pastor Stephen F. Bauer

Pastor Stephen F. Bauer

Just a couple of things.  This coming Wednesday, July 26th, I will be having orthoscopic surgery on my right knee in St. Charles.  Age, weight, soccer, baseball, and golf probably all have led to this.  It’s not so serious, but it may or may not have some complications regarding sacramental service next weekend.  I’ll do my best but I don’t want to hurt it any further.  Secondly I thought I would comment on a wonderful article that was in the St. Louis Post Dispatch last week for two consecutive days about the Leadbelt riots. As you may know this is the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States in WWI.  The ‘War to end all Wars’ is not very well remembered by most of us, it is often eclipsed by WWII.  If you wish to know more about WWI go over to Kansas City and spend a day at the WWI National museum – you will be well rewarded. The Post Dispatch article piece on the Leadbelt riots recalled the event in our region for two days, July 1917. You may not be familiar with this event, a lot of people aren’t.  As you know this area has the highest concentration of Lead Ore in the world.  This meant even more with the advent of World War and war production. The article commented on the power of the local Lead companies, Americans (mine workers) anticipating being drafted for the war, the direct fear of losing jobs to  immigrants coming into this area looking for work.  With these issues mixing together and fear of ‘undesirable’ aliens,  a series of riots occurred putting immigrants packing – roughed up badly by local mobs, and forced on trains to St. Louis. The justice system didn’t do much to protect them or their rights, nor were the militia of much assistance.  As most of the accosted were foreign born, the spirit of nativism raised its ugly head. Anyone with an accent was suspect by the mob. “….small bands of looters which swooped down on the foreign settlements after the main mob had driven the foreigners from their homes almost beggars description and many pitiful stories are told by the aliens who have returned to gather up their effects. In every house visited by a representative of the News, trunks were found to have been smashed open, beds overturned, dresser drawers pulled out and scattered about the floors. Many of the trunks had contained sums of money.” What makes this a bit of a St. Joseph story is that many of those foreign born immigrants were most certainly Catholic, and most probably even former St. Joseph members.  In one news report that I found the pastor of our church at St. Joseph, Fr Sevcik, was approached by gangs, shook their fists at him, telling him they were going to run the “Hunkies” out of town. Those hunkies could have been Italians, Germans, Slovaks. But fear can build, and rights are trampled.  We should not forget. History has a way of repeating itself.