The formation of St. John the Evangelist Parish and the establishment of Delphos are due to the shared dream of the Rev. John Otto Bredeick and his brother, Ferdinand. Since Fr. Bredeick was unable to leave Germany due to his pastoral duties at the time, Ferdinand came to America from Germany in 1834 with a group of pioneers and settled in the area now known as Glandorf. After hearing plans to extend the Miami Erie Canal, Ferdinand purchased 92 acres of land in the territory known as “Ten Mile Woods.”
In 1842, the first group of immigrants was organized to build the settlement in America. Another group traveled the following year. In 1844, Fr. Bredeick was released from his duties in Germany and came to America to fulfill his dream. He celebrated the first Mass on October 18, 1844 – one day after arriving at the colony. In 1848, Fr. Otto Bredeick assisted the German Catholic families in the area at that time known as “Sixteen” – and as a result, established the parish today we call Ottoville. In 1851, four settlements near the canal united, and at the suggestion of Fr. Bredeick, adopted the name Delphos, from the Greek word adelphos meaning “brother.”
The building of the railroad caused an economic rivalry within the community, considering the previous importance the canal played in Delphos. The community and the parish languished and faced numerous setbacks in dealing with trade and financially supporting its progress and development. In 1854, disaster would hit Delphos in the form of a cholera epidemic. Fr. Bredeick administered to the sick and the dying, by consoling those bereaving, performed Mass and sacraments for his parishioners, and gave encouragement in a time of despair. By the time the epidemic was under control, the population of Delphos was cut in half. As leadership was needed, the parishioners stepped up to lay the groundwork to continue progress in the new community of these early settlers.
As much as the parish was gradually moving back on track, Fr. Bredeick’s health was beginning to decline. Despite all efforts through the prayers and petitions of parishioners and friends, as well as the best medical care that could be given, Fr. Bredeick continued to grow weaker. On August 19, 1858, John Otto Bredeick, the priest, founder, leader and friend of the people of St. John’s, was called to join the ranks of God and his angels and saints. In his final will, he gave 18 acres of land to the parish, including the grounds where the church, schools, rectory and convent are now located.
The Civil War would hit in the Delphos community in 1861, with a decent portion of the volunteers being sons of St. John’s parish. Although the nation was facing distress as a whole, the parish at St. John’s came together, and Delphos saw an increase of population before our boys’ return home in 1865.
In 1866, the parish was blessed with the arrival of three Sisters of the Order of St. Francis of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. They took charge of the girls’ school, while the boys’ school was in a frame building on the west side of the cemetery. The Sisters would then reside in the parochial residence, and the pastor at the time took temporary residence elsewhere. In that same year, a need for a parish to be established for families living on the southwest outskirts of Delphos was recognized. Thus, Landeck parish was formed and exists today as St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and parish.
In 1867, the parishioners who lived in the Van Wert and Convoy area would have their own parish established within Van Wert in the formation of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church and parish. Also, in that same year, the building of the new rectory would begin in order to house the pastor. It was a two-story brick structure that would be close enough to the church so work could easily be directed on both projects. Over the next few years, there would be a growing need for a new home for the sisters. This two-story brick building would be completed in 1872, and those Sisters that took residence upon its completion, and their successors, would occupy that home for sixty-six years.
On May 3, 1872, the community of Delphos was hit with catastrophe when the “Black Friday Fire” ignited the town. The church began to burn three times and with great fortune, every time it was extinguished. The new school and Sisters’ home caught fire and narrowly evaded the tragic fate of numerous buildings. The first church, its added school, and the original Sisters’ residence, all being log structures, were completely destroyed.
Although the Sisters of St. Francis served the parish well, the Sisters of Notre Dame would arrive in September 1874. This new Order of Sisters has been a blessing to our school, parish, and community, and they continue to serve at our parish to this very day. Years of prosperity, progress, and good fortune would follow for many decades. In 1894, the parish and city celebrated the golden jubilee of the founding of our community with music, a Solemn High Mass, and fellowship for many days.
The 1890s would usher in the age of technology and many changes to the parish and community. One addition would be the building of a new rectory in 1905, and this structure now serves as the Sisters’ Convent. One of the biggest changes to happen for the faith community occurred May 7, 1910, when the parish would join as part of the new Diocese of Toledo; thus, this parish has been in three dioceses: Cincinnati, Cleveland, and currently, Toledo.
In 1917, our nation became involved in World War I which included 210 sons of our parish. Despite successful times in our parish, tears of sorrow were shed for the sons who would not return home and their blue stars in the St. John’s service flag turned to gold in honor of our fallen men.
In the economic collapse of 1929, the city of Delphos and the parish went through the obstacles and struggles of the Great Depression. This greatly affected the farms, business, and personal finances of numerous people of our community. Throughout this time, funds were still able to be raised to fund the school, despite the economic hardships that faced the parishioners at that time. Eventually, the community and parish would recover with the rest of the nation after many years of woe.
In 1938, the need for a new rectory developed, so work began. The new rectory was modeled after German architecture and is the same rectory that our pastors use to this day. In 1942, the cemetery of St. John the Evangelist was replotted and the centenary year would open in 1944.
World war would strike again in 1941, as nations faced each other in the struggle of World War II. By June 1944, over 450 of our community’s men and women were in the service for our country. Despite all this war, the parish would band together to assist the sustainment and maintenance of our community and school. In the 1960s, our community would be affected by national affairs including the assassination of our nation’s president, John F. Kennedy and other issues of the time.
In 1963, Pope John XXIII called all the world’s bishops to Rome to reconvene the Second Vatican Council. As a result of Vatican Council II, changes were made and began to be implemented. On November 29, 1964, the first Sunday Mass was celebrated in English rather than Latin. A portable altar was moved closer to the communion rail and the priest said Mass facing the congregation for the first time. New liturgical practices and the elimination of announcements and prayers during and after Mass were other changes brought by Vatican II. Beginning in 1969, many groups, outreach programs, and ministries were organized as an outcome of Vatican Council II. Over the next several years, these programs would continue to be developed in accordance with the decisions made by the Council.
In 1970, land was purchased for a new cemetery; and thus, Resurrection Cemetery was established. The first Pontifical Mass was held by Bishop Albert Ottenweller, previous St. John’s pastor, on June 4, 1974. In addition, the St. John’s Parish Foundation was formed and has helped with the financial needs of the parish and school to this very day. Since the 1980s, the vision and mission of the church has been the continuous focus for the development of the parish community and the Catholic education of our students, including the formation of the current preschool program at St. John’s Annex.
Since the 1990s and early 2000s, various ministries have been formed to assist with the needs of the parish and school in our community today, as well as the needs of our global community. We hold a current partnership to support the poor in Chimbote, Peru and have supported numerous groups and charities on a local level, as well. Recently, the parish offices were removed from the rectory, and the establishment of the Ministry Center was completed in 2008. The property that housed the New Delphos Manufacturing property has since been demolished and now serves as an area for recess, school activities, and a rehearsal field for the school’s marching band. Today, we are seeking rejuvenation in our parishioners and students’ faith formation through various programs, and through investing more whole-heartedly in our youth ministry.