Pius Church to celebrate 150 years
You're invited to a chicken dinner Sunday, August 16
Rumsey, Staff Writer
Do you have a hankering for crispy
fried chicken with all the fixings in a peaceful rural surrounding?
Then a visit to the St. Pius Church picnic in Sunman on Sunday,
August 16 is in order.
In addition, St. Pius Church is celebrating its 150 years of service
to the surrounding rural community. According to Johann Graham,
who is compiling the history of St. Pius Church, three acres were
donated by Alexander Volz for the purpose of erecting and maintaining
a Catholic school and meeting house. Currently, the cemetery and
the fellowship hall are located on this original site. It was
in 1859 that the church officially became a parish.
The first parish picnics were held in the 1930s under a tent and
were known as family reunions. According to Mick Braunagel,
lifetime member of the St. Pius parish, those parish members who
have left the area return for the annual picnic to reconnect with
old friends and family.
The church picnic brings the people together, said
Braunagel. He was a 16-year-old when he first started frying chicken.
And, Ive been doing it ever since, he said.
According to Braunagel, what makes the chicken dinner at St. Pius
unique is that a half chicken is served, with a smaller portion
available to the children. Assistants flour and kettle fry the
chickens in the area behind the fellowship hall.
The St. Pius picnic was named the best picnic chicken dinner in
2004 by the Cincinnati Enquirer, who featured Carl Heilman, aka
The Chickenman. Heilman grew up in Lawrenceburg and
would spend Sunday afternoon in the summertime with his family
attending the area church dinners.
When Heilman became a father, he began to fondly recall his childhood
afternoons at various church picnics. According to the 2004 article,
Heilman had visited more than 100 church chicken dinners since
1990 declaring the St. Pius dinner to be his favorite.
Funds raised from the picnic are used for church maintenance throughout
the year, according to Graham. As well as a chicken dinner and
mock turtle soup, there will be games and a silent auction as
well as raffles.
One of the items for the raffle is a quilt created by Braunagels
sister, Marlene Meyers, in honor of their parents, Ed and Edna
Braunagel. According to Braunagel, his mother died in 1987 on
the day of the church picnic, with his father passing on a year
St. Pius is described as a small country church, with only 64
members according to Graham. But, Braunagel sees more new faces
every week. I dont know what brings the people out
here, said Braunagel, but we have to set up folding
chairs and some will stand for the services.
Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. with the dinner to begin at 11
a.m. and will continue to serve until 3 p.m. There will be plenty
of parking, and carryouts will be available.
The church is located off State Road 48 at the intersection of
County Road 500 East and County Road 800 North in the Sunman area.
Pictured above are people who enjoy attending
the St. Pius Church Chicken Dinner. The hall is always packed
as people await the taste of some of the best fried chicken
in the state. Below is the church as it stood years ago.
The congregation is celebrating 150 years this fall in the
church with the land originally donated by Alexander Volz.
The public is invited to the annual picnic this Sunday,