A History of St. John the Baptist Catholic Parish

Able Assistants

Father Kostik did not go unaided in these years. Priests of the Society of the Precious Blood provided many able assistants. His first assistant was Father Isidore Stadtherr who came to Whiting in 1927 and was a great help and at times a special line of defense against over-eager salesmen of the depression years. Also noteworthy was Father Cyril Ernst, appointed in 1929 and Father John Lefko, CPPS who was appointed assistant in 1938 upon Fr. Stadherr’s promotion to pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Centerville, Iowa.

It is during this point in the parish’s history that the number of religious, social, athletic and arts-related (drama and choir) organizations became more numerous and active, due in great part to the industriousness and care of Frs. Stadherr and Ernst. For example, the new church had been planned with out a basement. However, Fr. Ernst insisted it should have one. He kept arguing the point even after the foundation and tile for the church floor had been laid. He argued the basement case citing need for meeting and club rooms while noting that no great degree of excavation was needed. He won out to the great benefit of the parish, creating what is now know as Benedict Hall.

SJBHistory_stadtherr_14Father Isidore Stadtherr

Fr. Ernst also managed the remodelling of the old church into a gymnasium, to the joy of the young and the vehemence of the older folks who felt it would be sacrilege to play games where Holy Mass had been offered. Fr. Ernst was an able carpenter, unhappy unless building something, provided assistance to the gymnasium construction along with booths and a large Bingo stand for the big bazaars St. John’s hosted every summer.


Father Cyril Ernst