Krebs Community Unites To Restore Historical Church

Wednesday, December 7th 2011, 5:09 pm
By: Craig Day

Krebs is a community known for its rich Italian roots and of course great Italian restaurants.

But, there's another unique place to visit in Oklahoma's Little Italy, built with skilled hands more than a century ago and saved with caring hearts.

In Krebs, you'll find a picturesque old church, almost like a Norman Rockwell scene, or with the feel of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Its towering steeple and stunning stained glass are rivaled only by the beauty of its history.

"Memories you know really, cherished memories here," said church member David Prescott.

Prescott is touched by those memories and proud of the story of St Joseph's Catholic Church, one of Oklahoma's oldest churches.

"We performed a monumental feat bringing this back," he said.

When the original 1886 wood framed church burned in 1902, work began almost immediately on a new church.

Even after long, back breaking days in the coal mines, immigrants from Italy and other parts of Europe found time and energy to re-build a church that is still standing today, nearly 110 years later.

"Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Polish, just a regular melting pot of European nationalities here," Prescott said.

Those immigrants built a wondrous house of worship with Italian stained glass and a glorious altar.

But over a century, time took a toll on St. Joseph's. So a new group with skilled hands and caring hearts lovingly began their work to restore it.

"By in large it was church members, and friends of church members that came in and wanted to help, and we put them to work," Prescott said.

Five years and $600,000 in donations later, St. Joseph's is nearly back to its original condition. A new roof and refinished 120 year old pews.

The same century old stained glass remains. It's a renewed attention to the altar and commitment to the church's past.

"This is a unique church. You don't see them built like this anymore," Prescott said.

St. Joseph's is beautiful again, but something just as beautiful is the story of how the church was made, and how it was later saved.

St Joseph's Catholic Church in Krebs is usually closed on Mondays. The congregation welcomes visitors at Mass, and they'll be glad to let you take a look inside the church, just call ahead to make arrangement