December 1, 2022 | Your Stories
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Fr. Augusty Valomchalil celebrates All Souls Day Mass on Nov. 2, 2022 on the grounds of the former St. Raphael Church in Daviess County. COURTESY OF GRADY EBELHAR

All Soul’s Day celebrated at St. Raphael Cemetery


On Nov. 2, 2022, St. Raphael Church grounds was visited by many former family members who gathered for Mass and a blessing of the dead. Fr. Augusty Valomchalil, parish priest of St. Mary Magdalene Parish, presided at the celebration. Approximately 40 people were there to celebrate with him. A candle was lit by everyone present and at the end of Mass and blessing, the candles were placed on the family members’ monuments in the cemetery. The many families included: Cecils, Ebelhars, Hayden, Freels, Murphy, Beyke, Head, Burch, Osborne, Bickett, Mischel, McCarty, Dodson, Li and Coomes. Each family represented a family member buried there in the cemetery.

St. Raphael Church was the second Catholic church built in Daviess County outside of Owensboro. It was established in 1844. In 1857 the log church burned. In 1861 a new log church was built. That log church was abandoned and was moved to the top of the hill in 1878 with a new brick church. The church was damaged by the big tornado that hit West Louisville on April 12, 1890. In 1925, the school was destroyed by fire. The school was built back and remained open until 1963.

Grady Ebelhar on Nov. 2, 2022, at the grave of his mother’s parents, who were both born and raised at St. Raphael. COURTESY OF GRADY EBELHAR

In May 1977 the church was struck by fire once again. The church officially closed when Bishop Henry J. Soenneker announced that Sept. 25, 1977, was to be the last Mass celebrated in the church. It was torn down in 1983. The big 800-lb bell was moved to St. Mary Magdalene in Sorgho. It rang for the first time on Easter Sunday, 1984.

For several years many of the former parishioners would gather in the fall at the cemetery on a Saturday afternoon to celebrate Mass and a dinner gathering. Last year Fr. Augusty celebrated the Mass there for the first time in several years. Mass was celebrated and once again the cemetery was blessed, and candles were placed on graves of family members of those present.

May they rest in peace.

Grady Ebelhar belongs to St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Sorgho.

Fr. Augusty Valomchalil lifts the chalice at the consecration during All Souls Day Mass on Nov. 2, 2022 on the grounds of the former St. Raphael Church in Daviess County. COURTESY OF GRADY EBELHAR

Originally printed in the December 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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