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Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Almost Yesterday: Holy Family Catholic Church Dedicated

Almost Yesterday
Southeast Missouri State University

It seems like Almost Yesterday that Holy Family Catholic Church was dedicated.  The building, which still stands on South Sprigg Street was dedicated on Sunday October 6, 1940 as a mission of St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau.

The church was created at the request of a number of young African-American residents from the southern area of Cape Girardeau, generally identified as “Smelterville.”  Many of these individuals had been receiving religious instruction from the popular Catholic Priest at St. Vincent’s Seminary, Father Willis F. “Gus” Darling, and they expressed their desire for a church in their area that would specifically address the needs of their community.

The request was approved, and a location for the church was secured.  Nearby residents Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Seyer donated the land a set of plans were drawn and Mr. F. W. Keller was employed as the contractor.  Between June 1 and October 6 of 1940 Mr. Keller’s construction company erected a one-story wood frame structure with a full basement.

The total cost of the 25 by 60 foot building was approximately $1200.00.

On October 6, 1940 the church was readied, the doors opened, and the first mass was delivered to an overflow crowd in excess of 120 people.

Two years later a school was established in the basement with two instructors from the Sisters of Loretto in Nerinx, Kentucky.

For over two decades Holy Family Catholic Church and School served the African-American population, and some white residents of Cape Girardeau’s chronically depressed Smelterville area.

On January 8, 1968 the final mass was held and the building sold.  Holy Family Catholic Church was a brief, but bright moment in Cape Girardeau’s religious history.

It seems like Almost Yesterday.

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.
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