St. Remy Parish unveils 175th anniversary plans

RUSSIA – To launch the celebration of the beginnings of St. Remy Parish in 1846, a 175th anniversary medallion, mounted on the front of the church, will be unveiled to the public for the first time, Wednesday, June 2, at 11 a.m.

Members of the public are invited to view the unveiling and announcement of upcoming events on the front steps of the church.

This event will kick off several months of activities.

• Archbishop Dennis Schnurr will offer Mass Sunday, Aug. 22, at 11 a.m. Picnic will follow the Mass, directly behind St. Remy Church. A re-enactment of the founding of St. Remy Parish (not 100% accurate but 100% funny) will be a highlight of the Aug. 22 celebration, along with live music and refreshments.

• The week prior, historical artifacts and items used in worship will be displayed, with volunteers present to provide explanation and history.

• An ongoing program to assist families with loved ones in St. Remy Cemetery, to repair or replace damage gravestones.

• A pilgrimage to the site of the first Mass offered in Russia.

• T-shirts, sweatshirts and golf shirts will be available to the community Saint Remy parishioners with St. Remy 175-year anniversary logos.

• A prototype for an Ohio Historical Marker to be placed in Russia will be unveiled later in the year, pending approval.

St. Remy Parish began in 1846 with a first Mass offered by the Rev. Louis Navarron, the first pastor, held not in a church but in a farmhouse about a mile southeast of the present church.

At that time, the entire area was being developed as farmland by settlers from Germany and France. Navarron had been recruited from France by Archbishop John Purcell to care for the French immigrants in Darke and Shelby counties, who created the settlements of Frenchtown, Versailles and Russia.

Initially, Navarron tried to serve the three communities with a single church built where St. Valbert’s Cemetery is located. When that proved impractical, he began offering Mass at sites in each of the towns, leading to the establishment of three parish churches that exist today: Holy Family in Frenchtown, St. Denis in Versailles, and St. Remy in Russia. The first St. Remy Church – built of logs – was consecrated Aug. 18, 1852.

“This isn’t just about our parish – it’s about our community, because they grew up together,” observed the Rev. Martin Fox, pastor of St. Remy. “It’s important that the people of St. Remy see themselves as a light of Jesus Christ to this community, and that everyone in our community can draw spiritual strength from this parish.”

St. Remy is part of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, whose 19 counties include Darke and Shelby counties. Russia is located in western Shelby County.