The consecration of Neusiedel church
A red-letter day for those faithful to their nation and religion
The little swabian village of Neusiedel auf der Heide (Uihei), which lies off the main road, yesterday (31st May 1931) celebrated a great day. The community's desire to have its own church was at last fulfilled and yesterday the new place of worship was officially opened by Bishop Dr. Augustin Pacha. Yesterday, the people of Neusiedel could say their prayers in the church for the first time. Up until then, they had done so in the old chapel in one of the parish houses.
The Bishop's reception
A high dignitary of the Church had already arrived on Saturday afternoon, where a large group of people were waiting at Alexanderhausen station, and he was greeted by the local sheriff (Anton Bednar), the president of the church council (Johann Beitz senior) and various officials from Neusiedel. Outside the station, a 'Reiterbanderium' was waiting; a horse and coach decorated with flowers for the Bishop; the Christian Rintje Men's Band and a long column of carts. And so they passed through Alexanderhausen with the local villagers and schoolchildren cheering loudly, towards Neusiedel auf der Heide. Two flags in front, next to the rider, fluttered in the breeze - on the right, the national flag; on the left, the red and yellow swabian flag. As the long column reached Neusiedel, a multitude of little red and yellow flags greeted the arrivals. Neusiedel wanted to show off its swabian character, too!
The previous evening
During the evening, the Bogarosch and Alexanderhausen choral societies arrived, as the official opening of the church was linked to the 25th jubilee of the Neusiedel Men's Choir, and they were greeted by the choral society's president, Theodor Mess, and the conductor, head teacher Matthias Henzl. As darkness set in, the pipes and drums began to play and flaming torches and brightly coloured lanterns made their way towards the house of the flag keeper Margaretha Kronberger, née Beitz, where the three choral societies performed a serenade. After the Neusiedel singers had finished, the flag bearer was greeted by the conductor Matthias Henzl. She thanked him with simple, warm-hearted words, and then the Bogarosch singers (head teacher Josef Schauss) and the Alexanderhausen singers (choirmaster Nikolaus Rikold) all sang. From there, they went to the Bishop who had alighted at the teacher's house. After the singing, the following people greeted the Bishop: Village notary Geza Midowich in the name of the village of Neusiedel; the Freidorfer head teacher Nikolaus Bednar as a born and bred Neusiedler; county engineer Hans Pierre and bank director Nikolaus Bosch who had worked as a teacher in Neusiedel for 16 years. After the Bishop's words of thanks there was an informal gathering in the Schütz restaurant where the elected representative, Dr. Emerich Reitter, and director Nikolaus Bosch, gave welcome speeches.
The red-letter day
The look of the village changed dramatically early on Sunday morning. Cars and horse-drawn carts, which brought more and more new guests, came from the surrounding villages. They came from Gottlob, Lowrin, Pesak, Alexanderhausen, Bogarosch, Billed, Lenauheim, Grabatz, Gross- and Klein Jetscha, Gertianosch and many more villages on the heath. Towards 8 a.m. the number of arrivals had grown to over two thousand, amongst them several hundred singers, male and female. The following choral societies were in Neusiedel yesterday: Alexanderhausen; the Men's Choir from Billed; the 'Sängerbund' from Billed (together with music); Bogarosch; Gertianosch; the Music and Choral Society from Gottlob; the Gertianosch Fire Department Choral Society; Gross Jetscha; the Men's Choral Society from Grosssanktpeter; Klein Jetscha; Lenauheim; the Lowrin Ladies Choir; the Men's Choral Society from Sackelhausen; Saravale; Schag; Knez Choral Society; the Mehala 'Liederkranz' (a delegation complete with flag), and many others. The imposing parade, with resounding music, marching to the flag bearer's house and to the Bishop; the colourful flags of the choral societies; the beautifully dressed schoolchildren; the girls and women in a variety of swabian traditional dresses - this was an unforgettable scene!
The consecration of the church
The consecration ceremony, which was carried out by the Bishop and aided by the Dean, Josef Unterreiner (Billed), Father Emil Fux (Bogarosch) and Bishop's secretary Matthias Willjung, lasted over half an hour. In front of the old chapel, a shrine made of foliage with an altar had been set up where the Bishop, together with his spiritual assistants, held a field Mass and the consecration of the Neusiedel Men's Choral Society's flag took place. The field Mass ended with a sermon which touched everyone's hearts, and with a large number of schoolchildren being confirmed. The Roman Catholic Church Choir sang the hymns under the baton of their conductor, the teacher Nikolaus Riegler. The representative of the people's community, Dr. Kaspar Muth, gave a speech in which he remembered the unspeakable sufferings of the inhabitants of the small village on the heath and the many impeding circumstances which meant that only now had they at long last managed to get their church. He also remembered the many donors who contributed their mite towards the completion of the building. The Bishop hammered the first nail into the new flag of the choral society; the flag bearer and the village representative, Dr. Kaspar Muth, the second, the latter with the words: "In honour of our Catholic Church, in defence of our swabian people". The new flag was made by the Temeswar altar building company, Josef Bittenbinder; it, too, carries the swabian colours of red and gold. One wonderful image was the 'Desilee' of the choral societies before the consecrated flag. This scene was immortalized on film on the instigation of Johann Kronberger, the husband of the flag bearer, who was in Philadelphia. The film will be developed here and will be sent to America in the next few days so that it can be shown to the various swabian associations. The parade was opened by the Rintje musicians, the Neusiedel Choral Society, together with their new flag, and then came the flag bearer with the Kronberger and Beitz family, the parish council, the church building council with Dr. Muth, the individual Neusiedel bodies and after them, the many guest choral societies etc. The festivities came to an end well after midday. The communal meal, in which the Bishop took part, was held at the Lichtfuss restaurant. Dr. Kaspar Muth gave the King's toast and Father Fux greeted the Bishop. Head teacher Matthias Henzl spoke in the name of the Neusiedel villagers and then the following people spoke: Engineer Hans Pierre; representative Dr. Emerich Reiter (in the swabian dialect); director Bosch, head of church building Johann Beitz, and many others. After the meal, the singing took place, in which eighteen choral societies took part and which went very well.
The new church
It was built according to the plans drawn up by Bogarosch Master Builder Matthias Ernst. Building supervisor was architect Matz Hubert from Temeswar. Building manager was Michael Tillger from Alexanderhausen, who built the church. Other individual workers were as follows: Carpenter Franz Schraut (Alexanderhausen); iron and glass work by by Blasius Panitsch (Bogarosch); cabinet makers Josef Jakobi in Bogarosch (doors) and Christian Rintje, Georg Lahm and Johann Ott in Neusiedel (benches etc.); plumber Karl Bakes (Bogarosch); blacksmith Josef Mangol (Neusiedel); grille work Franz Mangol (Neusiedel); church clock (a donation from Neusiedlers living in America) made by clockmakers Polin in Temeswar. The Temeswar firm, Josef Bittenbinder, made the pulpit and the altar. The elaborately decorated altar is a donation from the Bishop. Interesting is the document about the history of the village, which was cemented into the wall at the laying of the foundation stone by Master Builder Michael Tillger on 13th October 1929. Neusiedel auf der Heide (Uihei) was founded in 1844. The number of inhabitants at the time was 620, the first ones coming from the surrounding villages. The Hungarian State at the time leased plots of land to the Neusiedlers and these were used exclusively for the cultivation of tobacco. This went on until 1880 when people began to cultivate grain or cereals. The villagers had to pay high rents and suffered great need so that many took to the road and emigrated to America. The villagers received a donation of 400,000 Lei from the county culture fund which, together with the 600,000 Lei they had raised themselves, made it possible to tackle the building and successful completion of the church in 1930. The document contains the names of Dr. Kaspar Muth, Dr. Franz Kräuter, Dr. Emerich Reitter, Eng. Hans Pierre, ex-prefect Dr. Livius Cigareanu, Director Nikolaus Bosch etc., to whom the people of Neusiedel owe many thanks.
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According to the Donauschwäbischer Heimat Kalender 1955, the Kirchweihfest in Neusiedel is held on the second Sunday after All Saints Day (1st November), or on the third Sunday if All Saints Day falls on a Saturday.
Above is an image taken from an old picture postcard of Uihei showing the old Roman Catholic 'Bethaus' (prayer house or chapel). The pictures below show how the old Bethaus looks today in 2005. The main hall is locked and the building is falling to pieces. It was used as a cinema for a while, and then as a residence but is now derelict. The cross which originally stood erect on the roof was ordered to be taken down by the Communists when they took over the village, but the master builder, who was working there at the time, refused to do so and merely bent the cross over so it now lies horizontally on the roof (see last image).
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Bishop Dr. Augustin Pacha (26.11.1870 - 04.11.1954)
The diocese of Temeschwar, to which we belonged, was set up in 1930. The first Bishop of the new diocese was His Excellence Dr. Augustin Pacha, one of our Heimat's sons from the village of Moritzfeld. Everyone who knew him will remember him as a generous Father and a Good Shepherd. Who doesn't remember how, on his parish visits, he would always be surrounded by a jubilant throng of children and would hang his chain around their necks and place his Bishop's cap on their heads?! He worked tirelessly in building up his diocese and was successful in doing so, when a great catastrophe befell him which destroyed everything in one fell swoop.
The powers-that-be in the new Romania left the Church and the dignitaries alone to begin with, but soon afterwards the first arrests of priests began and he, too, was not spared the burden of imprisonment. His crime: Spying for a foreign power! In a degrading show trial, during which his own priests, who had also been imprisoned with him, had to give prepared evidence against their spiritual leader, he stood upright before his accusers and remained unshakeable. When judgement was passed and he was sentenced to 18 years in prison (he was already over 80 years old) he said, smiling, "You should have sentenced me to life imprisonment, for I don't have 18 years to live!". He blessed the judges and prayed for them, saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Once his health had deteriorated so much during confinement that he could no longer be kept in prison - and also because the authorities could not afford to be held responsible for the death of a Catholic Bishop in prison - he was released, very sick, to Temeschwar where he died shortly afterwards (4th November 1954). People from the parishes of his diocese came to Temeschwar to accompany him on his last journey. A picture found its way through the 'Siguranza' (security police) which shows the throng of people in Domplatz (Cathedral Square) in Temeschwar, who took part in the Bishop's funeral. Bishop Dr. Augustin Pacha found his last resting place in Temeschwar cathedral.
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The article on Dr. Augustin Pacha was taken from the Heimat book 'Gertianosch' (published 1963 by Mathias Hoffmann and Michael Mettler) and translated by Diana Lambing.
P.S. The first child to be baptised in the new church was Heinrich TITTEL, born 12th May 1931, son of Josef TITTEL and Barbara HUBERT (see three pictures below).
The first couple to be married in the church was Anton SCHIMMEL and Magdalena NEUMANN.
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From http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/biserici/episcopi_romano_catolici/episcopi_romano_catolici.pdf :
Augustin Pachaa fost episcop al Timiºoarei din anul 1923. Arestat în martie 1951 ºi judecat în procesul înscenat pentru compromiterea Vaticanului, a fost condamnat în 17 septembrie 1951 la 18 ani de temniþãgrea ºi la 1.200.000 lei amendã. în timpul anchetei a fost chinuit ºi înjosit. Dupã condamnare, în anul 1952 se gãsea în închisoarea de exterminare Sighet, celula 52. Bolnav, din cauza torturilor ºi fãrãtratamentul medical, ºi-a pierdut vederea, în anul 1954. Dupãun an a fost dus la Timiºoara cu domiciliu obligatoriu pentru a nu muri în închisoare. A fost înmormântat în Timiºoara în anul 1956.
Agustin Pacha was the bishop of Timisoara from 1923. Arrested and tried in march 1951, during a kangaroo court, to compromise the Vatican, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison and a 1.200.000 lei fine. During the trial he was tortured and abased. In 1952 he was incarcerated in the (extermination) prison Sighet, cell 52. Ill from torture and denial of medical treatment, he lost his sight in 1954. After one year he was transferred to Timisoara and placed under house arrest, so that he would not die in prison. He was buried in Timisoara in 1956.