1806 - 1880 (73 years)
||Peter Schneider |
||23 Oct 1806
||Schoenborn, Alsace Lorraine, France 
||Maryhill (New Germany) Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario
|Eby ID Number
||30 Jul 1880
||Verliaison, , Rhône-Alpes, France
||9 Jan 2022 |
- St. Clement's Roman Catholic Church
The first Catholic missionaries in the area were Father James W. Campion, Father Cassidy and Father John Cullen - beginning c.1828. They were followed by the St. Agatha missionaries, Fathers John Louis Wiriath (1834-1837) and Peter Schneider (1838-1844), but it was Father Simon Sanderl (1844-1848), also from St. Agatha, who organized the construction of a church. The deed for the land, located on the northwest corner of Duke and Guelph (now Dolph) Streets and purchased from the Erb brothers (for five shillings), was dated March 9, 1846, but it is thought that building actually began in 1844. The new church was reported to be "perhaps the only substantial Catholic church west of Toronto" (Spetz 1916: 139).
Services were held more or less monthly for many years as priests were in short supply and had to be shared by other congregations. Regular monthly services began in February 1882 with the arrival of Father William Kloepfer of Berlin who looked after Preston as well. Then, beginning in 1889 Preston and Hespeler became missions of Galt. Finally, on March 25, 1905, Preston received its own resident pastor, Rev. Jonas Lenhard. By now it had become apparent that a new and larger church was definitely needed but it was not until January 1907, when Father William Gehl was pastor, that land further along Duke Street was purchased. The cornerstone for the present church was laid September 4, 1911, and the basement of the building was ready for use the following year. The basement continued in use for services until the church was completely finished in 1922. The old church had been torn down in the summer of 1915. Fire on December 26, 1971 caused considerable damage, but the church was not damaged structurally. Repairs were made and the church was rededicated on June 25, 1972.
Waterloo County Churches A Research Guide To Churches Established Before 1900 By Rosemary Ambrose
CHAPTER V.-REV. PETER SCHNEIDER, 1838 TO 1844.
The most active and persevering missionary of Western Ontario was without question Father Peter Schneider. He was an Alsatian, like his predecessor, Father Wiriath. He came to Waterloo County from Amherstburg, Ont., where he had been the first year and a half after his ordination, towards the end of 1837. He made his headquarters at New Germany and served his co-religionists like his predecessor, from Puslinch, and Guelph to Goderich and south of this line.
He began a register here in December, 1837, and entered therein his ministrations throughout his district without giving the place where he performed them.
At New Germany there was then no priest's house. A miserable log shanty was there and was used as church and school.
On April 13, 1838, he writes to Bishop Gaulin, Toronto, not to come for confirmation then, but in July, when the roads would be better and the people better instructed, as some of the young people 16 to 18 years old were still so ignorant that they had not been able yet to go to confession.
Before this, Dec. 11, 1837, he writes from New Germany that there were then 50 Catholic families, all Germans, in the Mission of New Germany, that Father Wiriath had been among them for about one year and then left them on account of dissensions and want of support; that the people had already sent the Bishop two petitions for a priest through Father Wiriath and a third one later. This document is drawn up in French by the school teacher, Theobald Wadel, and shows that the writer was a man of parts. It is signed by 26 heads of families as well as by the Secretary, Mr. Wadel. It is likely that Father Schneider came here in response to these petitions.
Another letter of Jan. 6, 1838, states that there were then 60 to 70 families, all within three miles of the church, and many more further distant; that he had bought two acres of land beside the old school on which he proposed to build a church 40 x 22 ft.; that he had collected $350.00 for this purpose, asking how he should go about electing church trustees and how many; that dissensions had arisen about the site and the deed.
July 3, 1839, he writes that he had to defend himself against vicious newspaper attacks and complains of poverty, debts and poor health.
March 25, 1838, he writes from Waterloo Township (not New Germany) that his difficulties in New Germany were increasing, first, because the people were refusing to give the land title to the Bishop and would not pay their dues. Secondly, that disorders of drinking, sprees, quarreling and fighting were prevalent, that for these reasons he had been obliged to go to St. Agatha, from where he still attended sick calls, etc., when necessary.
April 27, 1838, he gives the population of New Germany at 446 souls, without mentioning the number of families.
Nov. 13, 1840, writing from St. Agatha, he asks the Bishop's permission to stay away from New Germany till they had reformed and come to an understanding regarding the deed and the building of the church and payment of dues. During his absence the people had begun the erection of a presbytery.
In a letter dated Wilmot (St. Agatha), Feb. 22, 1842, he asks the Bishop's consent to complete the presbytery and in the meantime use it for a churchinto which he would only admit the submissive ones. This latter step would likely lead to a schism and possibly make matters worse. Hence his doubts as to the plan he had in view. Apparently he did not act upon it. Whether the rectory then under construction was finished under Father Schneider or not, is uncertain. but the church he had contemplated was not erected then. It also appears that he did not succeed to bring harmony into the distracted Mission, though he continued to give them the most necessary services and labored constantly to bring them together.
The Diamond Jubilee (1856 - 1916) History Of The Diocese Of Hamilton With A Complete History Of The County Of Waterloo By Rev. Theobald Spetz
About a year and a quarter after Fatherin Wiriath's departure from Waterloo County, the Rev. Peter Schneider came and had his home, or quasi home, first New Germany and then in St. Agatha. As he labored much longer and very zealously in the missionary field of the western end of the Province, he deserves a more lengthy mention.
Father Schneider was born Oct. 23 1806, in Schoenborn, Lower Alsace. Having passed the Lyceé (high school) at Zabern, he entered the Novitiate of the Redemptorists at Vienna, Austria, but did not remain there long. In 1820 he came to America, studied Thetoric, Philosophy and Theology at the Montreal College and Seminary, when he was ordained in 1836 (June 19), for Upper Canada. He was at Sandwich and Amhersburg for a little over a year. At Amherstburg he entered his firt baptism July 26, 1836 and the last Dec. 16 1836. From Sandwich he wrote Oct. 5m, 1836 to Kingston saying that he ws there with the Indians (Hurons) and asks for good books and devotional articles, etc. that he met with difficulties in establishing himselft at Marysville and Malten, and ws then ordeder to Father Wiriath's place in Waterloo County, etc. He is said to have lived at O'Loanes with two of his sister for about three years. This may have been before his ordination, at least in part because on his coming to Waterloo Couny he says himself that he took up his abode in New Germany. Mr. O'Loane the Magistrate of Stratford, told the writer the Father Schneider used to stop often at their place for days, and that Mr. O'Loane as a boy used to go with the Father to all the surrounding placeds to serve his Mass, which was held in private houses, so at Centreville, Preston, Blair, Doon, Strassburg, St. Agatha, Berlin, etc.
Father Schneider covered the same territory as Father Wiriath, and more, as the Catholics everywhere increased in numbers and extent. He began his register in New Germany on Jan. 31, 1838, in which he entered all his ministrations, baptisms, marrriages and burials in succession as they happened, without giving the places of them. This register gives a number of baptisms of New Germany people that were administered in Europe, apparently written in Father Schneider's hand at the request of those concerned. This register goes till June 15, 1847, and is preserved in St. Agatha with the certicates of Father Wiriath.
At New Germany Father Schneider found a miserable log shanty that was used as a church and for school purposes, built under Father Wiriath or sooner. There was no priest's house.
On April 13, 1838, he writes to Bishop Caulin, Toronto, that he should not come then for confirmation, hut wait till July, when the roads would be better and the children better instructed. He had some youths 16 and 13 years old that were Mill so ignorant that they had not yet been able to go to con• fession. Before this, Dec. 11, 1837, he writes that there were then 50 families, all Germans, in the mission; that Father Wiriath had been among them for about one year and then left them on account of dissensions and want of support ; that the people had already sent two petitions for a priest through Father Wiriath and a third later. This document is drawn up in French by the school teacher, Theobald Wadel, and shows the writer to have been a scholar and a fine penman. It is signed by 26 heads of families and by the secretary- teacher. It is likely that Father Schneider was sent here in response to these petitions. In another letter of Jan. 6, 1338, he states that there were then 60 to 70 families, all within three miles of the church, and many more further away ; that he had bought two acres of land beside the old school on which he proposed to erect a church 40 x 22 feet ; that he had collected $350 for this purpose, and asking how he should go about the business of electing church trustees, and how many; that dissensions had arisen about the church site, and the deed. July 3, 1839, he writes that he had to defend himself against calumnies published by a vicious newspaper, and that he suffered from poverty, debts. and poor health. March 25, 1838, lie writes from Waterloo (Township?) that on account of dissensions he had to leave New Germany for St. Agatha; April 27, 1838, he states the population of New Germany consists of 448 souls, without giving the number of families.
At St. Agatha Father Schneider apparently found a log church, that was also used as a school by Catholics and Protestants. Mrs. Ferdinand Walter. nee Dietrich, is said to have been the first child baptized in this school-church by Father Schneider.
Father Schneider made his extensive trips mostly on horseback and constantly wore the Soutane. In 1840 he undertook to build a frame ehurch at St. Agatha. When the frame had been erected and partly covered with the roof boards, a storm arose and wrecked the greater part of the frame work Nov. 30, 1840. Undaunted by this calamity, the priest at once began to repair the damage. He called upon the people to procure new timbers, went with them into the woods and handled the axe and saw with his parishioners. March 11. 1841, the priest asks the Bishop's permission to collect funds for rebuilding the church, giving the date of its destruction; April 2, 1842, he complains about a case of calumny regarding a child's burial during his absence, and mentions the difficulty that had arisen concerning the deed of the church property. The church site had been donated by the former owner, but the people did not trust the Bishop enough and did not want. the title to be vested in the Episcopal Corporation. This ugly difficulty occurred its various other places. and was not settled here till May 24, 1848. The Archives of Kingston and Toronto show that priests received a Government grant for many years. In the earliest years it was $200. As the number of priests increased the grant remained at the same old figure in the lump sum, and the amount given the individual priest decreased gradually. In 1836 it had already decreased to £16 at $4.00 a semi- annually. When the grant ceased altogether the writer does not know.
Father Schneider is said to have celebrated his Christmas Masses on vari- ous occasions, one at Stratford, the next at IrisMown, and the third At Goderich. He even had St. Agatha as the starting point and Goderich as the end, according to credible testimony, over 50 miles apart. These trips were possible when the sleighing was good. The priest then could lie down and rest in the big sleigh and thus suffer little inconvenience On the way. In his early years Father Schneider often complains in his letters to the Bishop of his poor health. As the years passed he gained health and strength and became hardened by his outdoor life for all emergencies. This great missionary was of average height. strongly built, broad, shoulded and had a fair complexion and blonde hair. He was full of zeal and activity, agreeable hi his ways, jovial and full of humor. Ilk delight was to be among the people and to help them in spiritual matters as well as in temporal affairs: Having to spend nights wherever he happened to he. he was at home everywhere and welcomed by all. Sometimes, not finding the cooking up to his standard, he turned the home into a school of domestic science. and taught the good housewife how to cook. hake, and even to wash. In those days the feuds between the Orangemen and the Irish Catholics were very severe and dangerous. Father Schneider was the great peacemaker and was summoned wherever trouble was brewing between the factions. Both factions respected and obeyed him implicitly.
When Father Simon Sanderl came to Waterloo County in March, 1844, Father Schneider left the county in charge of the new arrival and confined his ministrations to the west from Stratford to Goderich, where he made his home and remained till 1869.
He came back to Waterloo after Father Sanderl took Guelph, from March 29, 1847 to June 15, 1847, and also served New Germany and Guelph and other places at the same time. Both he and Father Sanded went to Toronto this year during the prevalence of the ship fever there. Father Sanderl seems to have stayed there longer and Father Schneider attended Guelph during the absence of Father Sanded.
St. Paul's Register, Toronto, contains quite a number of baptisms and burials by Father Schneider at this time of typhoid fever, On Father Schneider's return to Goderich he explains his long absence from there by saying that he had to go to Waterloo County and to Toronto, where the Bishop and his few priests were unable to meet the emergency alone. Bishop Power was himself as zealous as any of leis priests in visiting the sick, and fell a victim to the prevailing epidemic Oct. 1, 1847. Having resigned his charge of Goderich and the neighboring Missions in 1869, Father Schneider returned to Europe, travelled extensively, studying Hebrew, and then. retired to some institution at Verliaison, near Lyons, France, where he died .July 30, 1880.
Bishop De Charbonnel in his private notes about his priests, says of Fattier Schneider: " This man has kept the torch of faith burning alone for many years throughout the Huron Tract and far beyond." lie certainly deserved this praise, and more. If anyone, he should have a more extended sketch of his life by someone interested in this kind of work. The Rev. Dr. Kilroy, former pastor of Stratford, is said to have published a sketch of Father Schneider. Thus far the writer has not been able to discover it, although he made a diligent search for it in many places,3a
3aThe Catholic Church in Waterloo County. Book I : with a summary history of the Diocese of Hamilton. Book II : and a list of the clergy who labored in its district from the beginning to the present. Book III
- [S1876] Book - The Catholic Church in Waterloo County. Book I : with a summary history of the Diocese of Hamilton. Book II : and a list of the clergy who labored in its district from the beginning to the present. Book III, 16.