St. Alphonsus Peru
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After the arrival in the United States in 1835 of Fr. Joseph Prost, an Austrian and Fr. Peter Czakert, a Bohemian, the later was sent to Peru to join Fr. Tschenhens. In October Fr. Prost arrived at Peru to find them living in dire poverty. Fr. Tschenhens was away on missions trying to obtain the means of support, which supposedly his parishioners failed adequately to supply. Fr. Prost pointed out their duty to support their pastor, and threatened to withdraw him if they refused to do so; but his words fell on deaf ears. They believed the subsidies had been sent from Vienna to the American Redemptorist community and that Fr. Prost was not being completely honest with them and they told him so in plain words. (17)

In about 1837, Fr. Prost returned with $900 and ultimately finished the work started earlier. The Church was doubled in length with a hewn log addition at the west end. It contained a choir gallery, new benches and a new bell steeple which Fr. Prost furnished with two bells. The pastoral residence was enlarged so as to accommodate four or five lay priest and two lay brothers. He appointed lay brother Aloysious Schuh, schoolmaster, without salary. He left nothing undone to promote the welfare of his flock. (18)

The parishioners contributed $400 to the improvements made. The people praised their pastors but contributed very little to his support. According to a letter of Fr. Tschenhens they were still obsessed with the idea that he had plenty of money; they reportedly refused even the pay for fodder for one of the two horses he had to keep (19)

But this must be entered in the settlers' defense:

“In those days money was scarce in Peru. The people, though they possessed large tracts of land, had no income. Dense forests covered the land, and the work of clearing for cultivation was slow and laborious. They were all beginners and were struggling hard to clear enough to raise crops to support their families. There was no sale for timber and all had to be burned on the spot where it had been grown. There was no transportation, and therefore only a poor market from produce. Flour might be $40 a barrel in Green Bay, but there was no means of taking it there, not even a wagon road. The only market was at Milan and there wheat usually averaged, in those days, no more than 25 or 30 cents per bushel, and that only in trade, such as coffee, sugar, calico, home-spun and farm implements. Many settlers having large farms, did not handle three dollars in money during an entire year, and hence could pay but little toward church and school, when the demands were to be met with cash. It was also one of the worst periods of American history, when for several years, there was a money panic over all the western country lasting from 1836 to 1840.”

“However, the farmers were quite liberal in furnishing the pastor with produce and horse feed, excepting in the spring of the year when there was a general dearth in these commodities as well as of money.” (20)

On Low Sunday, April 7, 1839, Fr. Prost announced to the congregation at Peru that he was to leave them and Fr. Tschenhens would stay until the Bishop could provide another priest. Fr. Tschenhens remained until January 1840 when he too was ordered to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to join Fr. Prost. (21)

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St. Alphonsus is located in the Toledo Diocese